Toys have been excavated from archaeological sites dating back to 3000 BC. Wooden toys in particular are said to date back to ancient Egyptians, where dolls were made of wood and pottery. Past civilizations used natural materials that were widely available, with wood being one of these materials. Wooden toys have always been available, although the use of plastics and other man-made materials has fallen out of favor with many parents.
Times are changing once again with environmental issues in the news every day, many parents are eager to reduce their use of plastic and are choosing wood as an eco-friendly alternative. I especially like toys made of rubber wood. Rubber wood has a very attractive grain and a solid feel, it is easy to machine and shape, making it ideal for making toys with charming shapes. In terms of the environment, rubberwood was in the past a by-product of the latex industry. The trees were discarded and burned once they reached the end of their latex production life. These discarded trees are now used to produce toys, Plan toys and I’m Toy are two manufacturers using this method and the toys produced are really lovely.
Wooden toys are durable and relatively safe, although as with all toys, you should make sure that your child plays with age-appropriate toys. Be especially careful around toys with small parts that can pose a choking hazard to young children. If you have children of different ages, it is a good idea to have a play session with both children using toys suitable for the younger child, the older child will have fun interacting and teaching his younger sibling and will enjoy checking out old favorite toys.
Inspect your child’s toys regularly for signs of wear and tear and loose parts, as even the strongest toys can eventually show signs of damage. I look for wooden toys that use water-based stains instead of paints, they look great since you can still see the grain of the wood instead of a thick layer of paint. It is a good idea to look at the type of adhesive that is used on the toy, there are child-safe adhesives on many wooden toys.
Wooden toys now come in all forms, from simple building blocks to parking lots and train stations. The benefit of wooden toys is that they remain simple, there are no flashing lights or distracting music. Children will benefit from using their imaginations to create their own games with or without siblings, friends, or parents. Role-play situations with garage or kitchen toys are great for cognitive development and fine motor skill development. I’d also recommend non-gender-specific toys – boys love to play in the kitchen as much as girls, so why paint them pink? Dollhouses are another example of a traditional toy for girls that boys should and can enjoy.
So in short, wooden toys have a long history for a reason that they are durable, safe for your child, and probably better for the environment. They will offer years of quality play value and can then be passed on for another child to enjoy. I firmly believe that they represent an excellent investment