Wooden toys have stood the test of time so well because people just love them. Children now start playing with iPads and iPhones almost as soon as they are able to grasp the devices in their little hands, but for almost all of human history, wooden toys were the norm. Wooden toys have certainly evolved over time, and there are a greater variety of wooden toys out there than ever before.

A well-made wooden toy made with your child’s developmental needs in mind will provide your little one with not only endless stimulation, but important learning opportunities. There are toys out there for all ages, and we have put together the below guide to make sure you know what you’re looking for an how to select the right one.

Key Facts

  • Wooden toys are not just for babies and toddlers. Because you can make so much with wood, there are toys out there for every age.
  • Wooden toys are great because they are simple and educational.
  • Wood is a great option for toys because it’s organic and therefore more environmentally friendly. Some are even completely recyclable.

Ranking: The best wooden toys on the U.S. market

When wooden toys are mentioned, you may call to mind the colorful blocks you enjoyed playing with as a child. While they are still delightful for little guys and gals, they have become so much more sophisticated over the years. Take a look at our short-list of the best wooden toys on the U.S. market.

No. 1: Top Bright – Wooden Race Track Car Ramp

Top Bright’s Wooden Race Track Car Ramp is a “mom’s priority choice” toy that features high quality wood, which is BPA-free, stained with bright and fun non-toxic water-based paint, and is perfect for one to two-year-olds. This toy meets the most stringent U.S. product safety standards and is of the highest quality. This toy features a nice top parking lot for your little one to store their cars while they are getting ready for the big race. Great for two children playing at the same time, this fun, brightly colored game and easy to grab pieces are perfect for young hands and minds.

This toy is designed to not only be fun but to help build important hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It also is great for building teamwork and helping to teach young children to work collaboratively, as well as take turns playing. Top Bright promises that if you are in any way unsatisfied with this product at any time, they will either give you a brand new one or provide you with a complete refund. A very popular, fun wooden toy that your little boy or girl will adore.

No. 2: Melissa & Doug – Geometric Stacker

If Melissa & Doug sounds familiar, that’s because they have been making award-winning children’s toys for more than 30 years now. Their wooden toys are adored by both parents and children for being of the highest quality, fun to use, and educational at the same time. Their Geometric Stacker comes with 25 brightly colored wooden pieces of different shapes and sizes that are to be matched and stacked on the wooden pegs. This is a good gift for children from two to four years-of-age.

Frequently referred to as “the gold standard in childhood play,” the Geometric Stacker help young children learn to recognize basic colors and shapes, count, and develop their spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination. This is a great toy for parents to play along with children, prompting them to identify the different colors and shapes along the way. This wooden toy is well made, contains only child-friendly chemicals and treatments, and will stand the test of time.

No. 3: Hape – Wooden Push and Pull Elephant

Hape is another toy manufacturer that has been making great wooden toys for a long time and their Wooden Push and Pull Elephant is no exception. This toy also comes as a crocodile, giraffe or zebra. Great for children to bond with, this wooden toy is a great introduction to or preparation for pet ownership, as it allows your child to bond with and take care of it. It is recommended for children over the age of 12 months, and features all non-toxic, completely child-friendly paint and materials.

This is a fantastic toy for building hand-eye coordination, creativity, balance, and empathy. It weighs only 5.9 ounces and measures 5.7 x 2.4 x 4.5 inches, so even the smallest hands and arms can comfortably haul this little wooden elephant around. Don’t let the cuteness fool you, this is an incredibly sturdy and well-built toy that will stand up to wear and tear and, with some care hopefully be something that your little one can one day pass along to children of his or her own.

No. 4: Hape – Pound & Tap Bench With Slide Out Xylophone

Another great wooden toy from Hape, the Pound & Tap Bench With Slide Out Xylophone is a multi-use musical instrument that works on both coordination, provides physical exercise, and introduces children to the world of music. Your child will be delighted as he or she pounds away on the keys and sends the balls flying, and will love discovering how sounds are produced. Even better, they will be thrilled to discover that they are capable of making and producing different sounds.

This toy is meant for toddlers and works on important audio recognition skills. This toy was the winner of the 2018 Cribsie Award for Best Introductory Musical Toy for children between 1 and 3-years-old. Giving your child many different ways to play, and working on an impressive array of motor and cognitive skills, this is a toy that will make any parent happy and will provide hours of versatile stimulation and entertainment to any developing mind.

No. 5: Jenga – Classic Jenga

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Who hasn’t, at least once in their lifetime, lost their minds having fun playing the classic wooden block game Jenga. Classic Jenga is one of the most beloved skill and strategy games of the last several decades. It has sold millions of copies all over the world and it is one of the staple games in almost any good games collection. The goal is simple: pull out a block without sending the tower crashing to the ground. As the game progresses, the tower becomes less stable and pulling blocks more precarious.

This wooden toy is great because it is suitable for all ages 8 and up. This is a great game that can help your child develop important strategy and thinking skills, as well as fine motor skills. Designed to be played in groups, Jenga really is great fun for the whole family and is a timeless game that will undoubtedly be just as popular as ever many years down the road. The wooden blocks are durable, easy to pack up, and easy to take with you on vacation, to parties, and to break out and play whenever. A must-have wooden toy for the family.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about wooden toys

Wood is an extremely versatile material, which means that there is a huge diversity of wooden toys available. This ends up creating a number of questions on the part of parents.

Wooden toys have many benefits for children of all ages.
(Source: Oksana Kuzmina: 35163183/ 123rf.com)

Why is it recommended to play with wooden toys?

While most of this article is dedicated to young children and toddlers, wooden toys can be found for all different age groups. They are simple, verstaile, and durable. Whatever you get, you are likely getting something that will be an important part of your child’s physical and cognitive development.

  • Awaken the imagination: Even the most basic wooden toys can help spark imaginative play in young children. What might look like a plain square block, can become a variety of different things for a young mind.
  • Aid with the development of fine motor skills: Because wooden toys are more dense and heavier than toys with plastic components, they work on motor skills differently. Playing with things like blocks and shapes lets children develop their understanding of balance and gravity, as well as their ability to identify weight, shape, and size.
  • Foster concentration: Many of the toys we will discuss allow children to build different characters, animals, and structures, or to engage in everyday tasks like meal preparation and construction. Whatever the task, the goal is to help build important problem-solving skills and it can all be done without anything electronic.

For what ages are wooden toys recommended?

The classic wooden toys, such as building blocks, tend to be made for very young children (a few months to 5 years). But wood toys are made for all ages, including adults. Games like Jenga mentioned above are some of the most popular.

Age range Type of play Examples of Products
Babies and young children (0-4 years of age) Easy to grab toys. Colorful, large and variously shaped pieces Wooden blocks, “Strike the bird”.
Children (5-10 years old) Toys that represent common objects, that allow kids to explore the world safely. Fruits and vegetables to cut.
Preadolescents and adolescents (10-16 years of age) Construction or analysis toys. Games, puzzles. Robotime construction model.
For the whole family Simple toys. Allows competitive games, easy to understand, but addictive Jenga.

Are wooden toys environmentally friendly?

One thing that is especially appealing about wooden toys is that they are a more environmentally sustainable option than plastic. They last longer, can be passed from one generation to the next, and they are often predominantly, or fully biodegradable. many are also recyclable.

While do can’t make a wooden toy if there are no trees cut for lumber, many are made from leftover and scrap wood. This helps reduce the ecological footprint of your toy, which is something to feel good about.

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The toy industry in the U.S. is worth billions, but the rate at which plastic toys are purchased and thrown away means the industry contributes its fair share to the amount of plastic in landfills and, more depressingly, in our oceans

Remember that wooden toys with small, loose pieces may be a hazard for younger children.
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Are wooden toys fun?

Wooden toys are a riot. But because they are so simple many parents worry they aren’t sufficiently stimulating. You can, however, entertain a child for hours without the use of lights and complicated mechanics. The bright colors, interesting textures, and problem-solving aspects of these toys make them fast favorites among children.

Little kids can sit for hours and build houses or entire town out of wooden blocks. With wooden food kits, they can sit and imitate mom and dad in the kitchen, as well as better learn to identify different foods.

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Remember that children’s imagination is infinite and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Are wooden toys safe?

Quality wood products are perfectly safe. However, as with anything you give a young child, parents need to be careful. Anything with small parts should be treated as a potential choking hazard, and you should always keep an eye on your little one while they play. Children under three-years-old shouldn’t play with anything that has anything small enough to fit in their mouths.

Before giving the toy to your child to begin playing with, make sure the pieces are as they should be and adhered together. Make sure paint is non-toxic, and definitely not lead-based. If there is nothing from the manufacturer acknowledging the absence of anything like this, make sure you’re buying from a reputable company that wouldn’t use anything potentially harmful.

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While standards and regulations in the U.S. are very strict, especially when it comes to children’s safety, some other countries around the world don’t have as robust consumer safety legislation.

Shopping criteria

Despite being simple, wooden toys bring many benefits to the development of your child. We want to help you find the ideal toy, with the potential to become your son’s or daughter’s favorite. To get a great toy your child will love, you need to consider the following:

  • The age of your child
  • Type of wood
  • Versatility
  • Quality of the materials
  • Design

Age of your child

As we touched on earlier, wooden toys can be given to children of all ages (even adults). But different age groups have different cognitive and physical requirements. Colorful bricks are great for babies and toddlers. Children older than 4, however, need more sophisticated stimulation, and especially toys that prompt creative and imaginative play.

Most wooden toys are created for young children. Most pre-teens and adolescents lose interest in wooden toys. Finding wooden toys for this age group is trickier. This is usually where games like Jenga, and other puzzle-type games and activities become fun.

Wooden toys have entertained children for centuries and it’s not surprising that they’re still popular today.
(Source: Oksana Kuzmina: 53851907/ 123rf.com)

Wood type

Different wooden toys use different kinds of wood. The best quality toys out there us solid wood. Cheaper options tend to use compressed wood, which can pose dangers because they are usually made using potentially toxic adhesives. Always consider quality and safety over price.

If you are environmentally conscious, always try to get things made from sustainably sourced materials. Bamboo is a great option because it is industrially farmed, readily available, and grows rapidly.

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Illegal logging is a massive problem in the developing world and contributes heavily to deforestation and habitat loss.

Versatility

You are now well aware that one of the main draws of wooden toys is their simplicity. Many wooden toys, especially those made for toddlers and babies, feature just sets of abstract shapes. They can be used in innumerable ways, which is good for helping develop creative thinking skills.

More structured toys have some kind of defined objectives and rules. Both kinds of toys are great, but they have different objectives. It is a good idea to mix up the kinds of toys your kids play with and include both structure and abstract ones. Our above list contains toys that do both.

If you are worried about the environment, look for products made from sustainable wood.
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Quality of materials

Paying attention to the quality of the materials is of the utmost importance. This is of paramount importance with colored and dyed toys. Many brands will tell you on the packaging that they don’t use anything toxic. If there is no such guarantee, you should only buy the toy if it’s from a reputable manufacturer.

Again, it is a good idea to go over the toy and ensure there are no loose parts. You should also make sure the wood is well finished and there are no rough patches that could potentially give your child splinters.

Design

One of the most attractive things about wooden toys is that they are eye-catching. The simple, time-tested designs harken back to older, simpler times. Quality ones from reputable brands are well-made and can be passed on from generation to generation. They are made in a variety of shapes and sizes and are often brightly colored, or not colored at all and conserve the original color and hue of the wood.

Even the most modern wooden toys maintain a minimalist and striking style. Always look for something that is going to be fun to look at first and foremost, especially when shopping for young babies and toddlers.

Summary

Wooden toys have been around forever and they are not likely going anywhere. They are simple, well-made, stimulating and educational all at the same time. Something as simple as a handful of blocks can delight a youngster for hours. They are fundamental items your child needs to have in order to develop motor skills and cognitive abilities.

The possibilities offered by wood are endless. Because of this, you can find something for every member of the family, no matter what age. Wood is more environmentally friendly than plastic, is organic, and most of it is completely biodegradable. Watch and see: a wooden toy might just become your child’s favorite thing in the world.

If you found this buyer’s guide to wooden toys helpful, go ahead and share it with family and friends on social media. Additionally, leave us a comment below with any thoughts, opinions, or suggestions!

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