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Last updated: June 19, 2020

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Wood toys are iconic, time-tested items that are still around to this day because people love them. They have been the go-to, and for centuries, the only toys available to children. Today’s wooden toys are much more diverse than the ones that previous generations are used to, while still keeping to the traditions and features that made the originals so popular.

High-quality toys are made to be both fun and educations. There is a wooden toy perfect for any age range. The below article will help you learn how to evaluate and select the best wooden toy for your boy or girl.

Key Facts

  • Wooden toys are not just for babies and toddlers. Thanks to the versatility of wood, there is a range of toys which suit all ages.
  • These toys are so popular because they are simple and fun. They are also designed to help build important imagination, creativity, and fine motor capabilities.
  • They are also more environmentally friendly since wood is organic and biodegradable.

The best wooden toys on the Canadian market

When wooden toys are mentioned, you may call to mind the colourful blocks you enjoyed playing with as a child. Although these still delight little ones, the wooden toys now available include so much more than that. Take a look at our short-list of the best wooden toys on the market.

Melissa & Doug – Classic ABC Wooden Block Cart

Melissa & Doug is a name that all parents likely have on the tip of their tongues when it comes to the best children’s toys on the Canadian market. This company makes old classics, along with innovative new products for the 21st century, but their classics are still hard to beat. The Classic ABC Wooden Block Cart is case in point. This well-built, classic block cart comes with 30 solid wood blocks and a rolling cart your child can pull. It is not only fun, but helps build important numeracy, as well as letter and colour recognition skills.

This is undoubtedly a classic wooden toy that is still a staple feature of playrooms all over the country. Great quality that will last for years, if not generations, this is a toy that your children can one day pass on to their children. Whether while stacking, sorting, pulling, and taking it all apart to do it over again, your child will be learning while playing with the great classic wooden toy from a storied and well-respected manufacturer.

Melissa & Doug – Rainbow Stacker

We had to include a second Melissa & Doug classic wooden toy on this list because they are just so good at what they do. Their Rainbow Stacker is yet another must-have classic wooden toy for any parent. This toy gives your child 8 smooth, easy-to-grab and stack wooden pieces that stack on a solid wood base that rocks back and forth. The brightly coloured pieces are fun and enticing, getting your child in the mood to play and learn. This is a good gift idea for children over the age of 18-months.

For over thirty years, Melissa & Doug have been turning out high quality, affordable, and educational classic toys. This durable wooden stacking set is made from entirely child-safe materials and provides hours of joy and entertainment to your little one. The goal of this toy is to inspire creative thinking, as well as help young children 18 months and up to develop important fine motor and colour recognition skills. Wooden toys like these have stood the test of time because of how effective and simple they are.

Hape International – Scoot Around Kids Wooden Ride On Balance Bike

Anyone who grew up before the year 2000 likely remembers wooden balance bikes. Renowned toy maker Hape International’s Scoot Around Kids Wooden Ride On Balance Bike is an old classic that delivers as much fun as the original. This bike has four wheels, so it is easy for kids to stay upright while scooting along. This is a great wooden toy for helping build coordination and muscle strength in young legs, arms, and cores. It is also a great way to help your little guy or girl become more confident in their budding motor skills.

Everything on this bike is non-toxic and child safe. It is a great wooden toy designed to be used by children between the ages of 1 and three-years-old and is capable of supporting up to 50 Kg. With this toy, your little one gets increased mobility and freedom, while you can rest easy knowing that this toy is something that is going to stand the test of time. A great toy that will be around for years, and which harkens back to a time when children’s toys were much simpler, though just as enjoyable.

Orbrium – 52 Piece Deluxe Wooden Train Set

Orbrium’s 52-Piece Deluxe Wooden Train Set is a wooden toy that is just as great today as when it came many many years ago. The set features a tunnel, a bridge, wooden tracks, passenger coach, hopper car, automobile, buildings, figurines, road signs, trees and bushes for a great life-like playing experience. This a great wooden train set because it can be built and expanded upon using existing sets to it. It meets all CPSIA safety standards and gives your child hours of creative, imaginative play time.

The track comes with four different destinations that put your little guy or girl in the conductor’s seat. It also comes with a dual-use wooden storage box that is high-quality and helps keep the pieces in one place. This toy is also compatible with Thomas Wooden Chuggington, Brio Railway System, and other big brands. it includes a number of track layout designs that are accessible via tablet and phone, so you can build and construct with your child until your hearts’ content. This is a great wooden toy for helping to build creative thinking and imagination skills.

Red Wagon Toys – Classic Kendama Toy

Red Wagon Toys is another toy company synonymous with quality and craftsmanship. Their Classic Kendama Toy has been around for over 100 years and is constructed from robust, lightweight beech wood that keeps this toy dent and scratch free (no small task when kids are involved). The nylon string attaches the ball to the hammer without the risk of ripping and fraying. There are tons of tricks and moves to learn with this toy, so your child will enjoy the novelty and challenge of it.

It weighs less than 6 ounces and measures just 7 inches tall, by 2.75 inches wide, so this is an incredibly easy toy to pack up and take with you on the go. A great way to provide your kids with hours of entertainment at friends and relatives homes, at the airport, or waiting in line without resorting to the cell phone or tablet. This wooden toy is a piece of history and something that your children are sure to appreciate now, and well into the future as it becomes even more special.

Shopping Guide: What you should know about wooden toys

Wood is easy to shape into a variety of different objects, so there are myriad wooden toy options out there. There is an equal number of questions that arise for parents to ask too.

kid boy playing wooden toys at home or kindergarten

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?

Although we will focus largely on young children in this article, wooden toys are great for kids of all ages. It’s value lies in its simplicity and versatility. Whichever product you choose, wooden toys are guaranteed to aid with your child’s development.

  • Awaken the imagination: Even simple wooden toys are capable of harnessing a child’s limitless imagination. Even simple shapes can be used to create entire worlds and characters, and children love that potential.
  • Aid with the development of fine motor skills: Wooden toys tend to be denser and heavier than plastic ones, which works on fine motor skills in different ways. Things like blocks and round objects help children learn about concepts like balance and gravity, as well as important spatial concepts and shape recognition.
  • Foster concentration: Many wooden toys are also designed to be tasks in need of completion. Kids can make towns with blocks, make food, or build different animals and structures. This helps build concentration and problem-solving capabilities. Even without lights and sound, your child can have a wonderful time with wooden toys.

For what ages are wooden toys recommended?

Typical toys like building blocks are usually made with young kids in mind, from months to five years-of-age. There are, however, wooden toys for every age range. There are even wooden toys (especially puzzles) made for adults and adolescents.

Age range Type of play Examples of Products
Babies and young children (0-4 years of age) Easy to grab toys. Colourful, 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?

Another great aspect of wooden toys is that they cut down on plastic and plastic waste. This means that not only are they more sustainable, but they will tend to last longer, and can even be passed from generation to generation. Furthermore, since wood is an organic material, it biodegrades, and many of these toys can be easily recycled.

While trees must still fall in order to make a wooden toy, many of them are made with recycled and scrap wood. You get a toy that is great fun, and much less environmentally costly.

Fhater playing with his daugther

Remember that wooden toys with small, loose pieces may be a hazard for younger children. (Source: Jozef Polc: 47049516/ 123rf.com)

Are wooden toys fun?

Wood toys might seem simple, but they pack a ton of cognitive development opportunities into very simplistic-seeming packages. What’s more, children love the look and feel of wood. The colours, shapes, and creativity of these toys make them just as good, if not better at stimulating young minds.

Young children can keep themselves occupied for hours with wooden toys. A wooden ride-on toy provides them with mobility and freedom, while trainsets allow them to build and explore worlds.

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Remember that children’s imagination is infinite and shouldn’t be underestimated. Canadian psychologists recommend providing children with ample opportunity for imaginative free play to help build important problem-solving skills.

Are wooden toys safe?

Good quality wood products that meet Canadian safety standards are perfectly fine to give to a young child. Always make sure any toy is age-appropriate and is not going to pose any dangers with small parts, or sharp pieces.

If you are buying a new wooden toy, always make sure the pieces are correctly fastened to their appropriate parts. You should also make sure any paint is non-toxic. Many paints used in cheap products contain harmful ingredients like lead. The best, most reputable brands use only child-safe products.

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Until not very long ago, it was common for Canadian toys to allow the use of lead paint, and many previous generations of Canadians were exposed to this toxic heavy metal for years.

Shopping criteria

While they look simple enough, Wooden toys contain numerous educational and developmental benefits for young children. You need to know what to look for to get something that will be a quick favourite with your child. The below shopping guide delves into the following essential buying criteria:

Age of your child

As mentioned in the previous section, there are wooden toys suitable for all ages. However, each age group has different needs. Colourful blocks care very stimulating for babies and toddlers. Children over 4 years of age require more complex toys and that awaken their imagination.

The vast majority of wooden toys are made with young children in mind. Teens and young adults are not very interested in them, for the most part. Finding wooden toys that older kids and teenagers will enjoy is tough, but there are a variety of puzzles and brain teaser games out there that the whole family can enjoy, regardless of age.

Little boys playing with wooden train set

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 types of wood are used to make many wooden toys. The best quality ones use solid wood, while cheaper ones use compressed wood. Compressed woods are made with epoxies and adhesives that can sometimes be toxic, so high-quality ones are better.

If you are environmentally conscious, then always look for toys made from sustainably sourced wood. Bamboo is a great option because it is plentiful, farmed, and grows fast. Exotic hardwoods are often illegally and irresponsibly harvested.

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If a toy is for your baby to bite, maple or beech is recommended.

Versatility

As we mentioned in the previous section, simplicity is one of the main advantages of wooden toys. A lot of the toys included in this class of toy are abstract (e.g. blocks). They can be manipulated and used in a variety of different ways and are great at spurring creative thinking and play.

More structured toys have some kind of defined objectives and rules. Both are great options but they are designed with different needs in mind. It is a good idea to have your child play with both structured and more abstract toys to get all of the cognitive benefits of each type. In our list, we include products that satisfy both needs.

wooden train in the play room and many toys

If you are worried about the environment, look for products made from sustainable wood. (Source: Mikhail Rulkov: 46165484/ 123rf.com)

Quality of materials

Quality is always important, and knowing how to spot quality, and avoid shoddiness is important. You need to be especially careful with coloured toys. Many brands explicitly state they use non-toxic paint. If there is no explicit statement on the packaging, then make sure you are buying from a reputable brand to be sure you are getting something safe.

It is also a good idea to ensure that there are no loose or other potentially hazardous pieces before giving your child his or her new toy. Small pieces can be choking hazards. Additionally, if the wood is not finished and cut properly, kids can end up with splinters.

Design

One of the biggest attractions of wooden toys is that they are generally quite beautiful. They are nice because of how simple they are. Many are purposely designed to be either exact replicas of or modernized throwbacks to earlier versions of the toy. They often come in great simple shapes that use naturally-coloured wood which looks and feels great.

Even the most modern wooden toys maintain a minimalist and striking style. It is a good idea to take into account the design features and paint job on the toys you buy, especially if you are getting something for infants/toddlers.

Summary

Wooden toys have been fan favourites for hundreds of years and they continue to be popular even in the 21st century. They are beloved because of how simple, easy to use, but effective they are. Even something as simple as a set of blocks can spark imagination and entertain young minds for hours. They are also great at helping build other important motor and cognitive skills.

The possibilities offered by wood are endless. This means you can get a toy that will be great for any age group. Wood toys aren’t as hard on the environment, and many are fully organic and biodegradable. You might just find that a wooden toy becomes your little one’s favourite plaything.

If you enjoyed the below guide to wooden toys and found it useful, share it with your friends and family on social media. Additionally, you can drop us a comment in the below section and let us know what you think.

(Source of the featured image: Choreograph: 49210539/ 123rf.com)

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