Four Reasons To Love Wooden Toys
We try to keep things as natural as possible at home and so wooden toys seemed like the obvious choice. A couple of reservations I had initially were that they seemed to cost more than plastic toys and the fact that Arjun (when he was around 21 months) had regular urges to throw things (across the room/at people/up in the air so they would whack him on the head on the way down). Weighty wooden toys + child inclined to chucking stuff. Not ideal perhaps. But the more we got and the more I researched, the more we loved them. And Arjun only chucks them occasionally now. WIN. And he has only ever kind of seriously just missed my eye a couple of times. WINNNNN. And there are loads you can buy that won’t bankrupt you. Hallelujah.
Children playing is serious business. When they are playing, they are doing some serious learning. Here's why I love wooden toys:
1. ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY
Open-ended simple wooden toys that don’t have an obvious single use allow and encourage kids’ imaginations to fly free. June playing with his wooden blocks could be him constructing a house, a tower, some train tracks, the sea, a missile-type device to attack mummy with...basically anything.
2. REFINE MOTOR & PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
They encourage interaction, problem-solving, they are quiet (POSSIBLY THE BIGGEST WIN), help refine motor skills, (while they might seem clunky and awkward for a small child to hold, it actually requires the child to work out different ways of grasping and moving the toys to get them to do what they want them to do!).
3. THEY ARE GORGEOUS
Arjun's wooden kitchen has made a beautiful addition to our living space :).
4. THEY WILL LAST
I love the idea of Arjun’s toys staying with us as he grows up. And because his play with them is based on his imagination, they will grow with him!
So many plastic toys, especially those with an electronic element, offer so little by way of creative play. The flashing ones can also lead to over-stimulation which research has shown can affect a child’s ability to think critically. And then there’s the material used to make them. Not recyclable and often full of harmful chemicals. Also something to be aware of is that some wooden toys are made of cheap, low quality plywood that contains toxic glues. If you have to buy plastic toys, remember that basic is better (June has quite a few little plastic cars that he’s very fond of that are great for his creative play) and check that the plastic is BPA free and PVC-free. Look for labels like eco-friendly and you’re probably on the right track.
As with most things, we’re trying not to go for an all or nothing approach. We don’t buy June plastic toys and we have one small basket for the plastic ones he's particularly attached to. We’ve let our closest family know that we prefer wooden toys but if he’s given a plastic one that is non-flashy and BPA-free and he loves it, then it will replace one from the basket. All plastic toys don’t stifle imagination, of course they don’t - he loves Lego - but in general, toys that are made from quality wood/natural materials are safer and allow kids to think more creatively while they play. :D
I'll be compiling a list of my favourite non-plastic toys that Arjun plays with in the next few weeks!
Also - why being flexible doesn't mean having to compromise your principles.