Anyone who knows me will have noticed that my children have a lot of wooden toys. I LOVE wooden toys, and that's probably why my boys have quite a few.
Not all my children's toys are made of wood (in fact, far from it), but whenever I can, I'll try and add to our collection, and here's why.
1. Wooden toys are more durable
Let's face it. Children aren't exactly gentle when they play. Well, mine aren't - not always. Plastic toys with small bits tend to break a lot more easily. And as you'll know, that causes upset in little people. But it also puts you, the parent, in a position to either throw the toy away or help your child accept that it just won't work as it was originally designed to. And no one needs that headache!
2. Wooden toys have more texture
If you've ever come across the idea and practice of introducing children from 6+ months to treasure baskets, you'll know that the more texture-rich objects you put in there the better. Babies love experimenting with objects with different weights and things that 'feel' different. And let's face it, plastic has its uses, but when it comes to texture it's a little bit boring, and it certainly doesn't provide the same sensory experience that wooden toys give.
3. Wooden toys encourage more creative play
Of course it depends on what type of toys you're looking at here, but a lot of 'modern' and very popular toys do everything for you. They move, they make lots of noise (sing?!), and even light up!
So if you observe your child playing with them, you'll probably notice that most of the time they're just watching them do what they do. With a smile, of course, but toys that don't move and make sounds can stimulate a child's imagination a lot more. So you'll hear a lot more 'choo choo' sounds during play. And you can really start to see your child bring their 'knowledge of the world' and reasoning into play. It's a great thing to watch actually.
4. Wooden toys can grow with your child
I have three children who are approximately three years apart from each other. They might all be boys, but they have different interests and preferences, and my eight-year-old definitely won't play with the plastic caterpillar baby toy that sings the alphabet!
But he will still play with his wooden train tracks. A lot. And so will his brothers. The only difference is that he can do different things (fine motor skills maybe?) that his younger brothers (aged five and two) can't do yet.
5. Wooden toys are more versatile
It's just amazing to see how the same toy can be used in different ways to achieve different purposes, depending on your child's age and level of ability. We see this with our train tracks and sets, for example, but we've really noticed this in a big way when our children started playing with these little men.
Our Little Guy will try and put them all in a row, because his fine motor skills don't allow him to stack them together as yet. My five-year-old likes to use them for drawing - his favourite activity is to trace them and then colour the little men in. My eight-year-old, on the other hand, likes going through the instructions and resources that came with the set and make patterns or replicate images.
So you can easily see how toys that don't come with a specific purpose or a set use open a whole new world of imagination and fun play for your children.
6. Wooden toys are safer
We've already established that wooden toys are harder to break and therefore less likely to leave small, (dangerous-for-the-little-ones) parts around. But a lot less chemicals go into making them - regulations and standards (with European ones being stricter than US ones) mean that they are a lot 'greener' than their plastic counterparts. And you can also add unique, handcrafted toys to your collection.
Which leads us to our last point...
7. Wooden toys are beautiful
Ok, maybe this is a matter of personal preference and one that's in line with my slight obsession with wooden toys (maybe I just didn't have enough of them as a child?) But to me, wooden toys just look nicer. They are timeless and beautiful, and there's no doubt about the fact that a lot of other toys that my boys have owned have either ended up broken (and in the bin) or donated or sold. Wooden toys though, I'm sure, will remain part of our household for years to come. And if my children don't want to play with them anymore, I'm pretty sure I will!