Wooden toys, in contrast to their plastic counterparts, last longer and biodegrade faster. They’re also generally less flashy, making them popular among parents with more minimalist taste who’d rather not have their home overrun with stuff that looks like this. In fact, a lot of wooden toys can pass for Danish design objects (and wouldn’t look out of place next to a succulent atop a mantle) when not in the hands of a toddler. And because of their long history in the world (the first written reference to a wooden toy dates back to 500 BC) and their popularity in Montessori and Waldorf classrooms, they exude a comforting folksiness and proximity to the natural world. Take it from me, a former Waldorf-school teacher and current Strat reporter who’s spent hours in conversation with child-development experts, toy-trend forecasters, and stylish parents: Wooden toys will not only make your home more stylish, they’ll foster curiosity, creativity, hand-eye coordination, and so much more in your child.
To further guide you, we scoured the internet for the cream of the crop and curated a list of the best wooden toys we could find, including wooden toys for teething babies, ones for toddlers working on their fine motor skills, toys that encourage pretend play, and even some STEM toys made out of wood.
The Homi organic wooden rattle is made in the U.S. and painted with environmentally friendly, nontoxic milk paint before being sealed with organic virgin coconut oil. So it’s safe for teething babies and even your pets.
Toys that make noise or play music are typically bigger hits with toddlers. This chubby wooden bee on wheels makes beeping sounds when kids press down on its back. It’s made with wood from responsibly managed forests and nontoxic paint. It’s also great for fine motor skills and encouraging memory through cause and effect.
Speaking of bees, toddlers will enjoy the challenge of using these wooden tongs to remove wooden bees and put them back in their hive. Matching the bees to their hives also helps toddlers work on color recognition.
CARLORBO Wooden Toys for 2 Year Old - Pretend Play Food
Each wooden apple, pomegranate, lime, banana, and avocado in this set is realistically painted with eco-friendly paint and can be cut in half for serving using a wooden knife and then put back together with magnets.
Grimm's Small Stone Caves Nesting Wooden Blocks Stacker
We featured this a similar colorful Waldorf stacking toy in our gift guide for one-year-olds. These beautifully crafted toys are interactive and encourage babies and toddlers to experiment with building and gravity.
For older children, this simple curved wooden balance board can be used in myriad ways: as a car track, a balance beam, a bridge, a table, or a step stool. It pushes children’s creativity and increases muscle strength.
Though it’s not only made of wood, Baby Einstein’s Magic Touch Piano has made it on the Strategist best sellers top ten list seven times — that’s a lot. It comes recommended by child-development expert Dr. Sarah Roseberry Lytle who says it’s a good pick because “young kids love making music and exploring things, like, Can I make it softer?Can I make it louder?What happens when I hit it harder? That’s a really interesting learning process.” If it’s between this and a junkier-looking toy that makes louder, more aggressive sounds, we’d go with this wood-plastic hybrid toy piano.