Monthly Archives: March 2011

Wooden Toys: Why they are (and always have been) Best for Babies

What mother hasn’t experienced a moment of panic at the sight of a small or dangerous object making its way into her baby’s mouth?  Perhaps a small treasure picked up off the floor, something discovered inside of mama’s purse, or worse yet- a toy that should be safe.

How often does that same mother shudder to imagine what substances coat that toy that inevitably becomes the object of baby’s oral fixation?  While baby contentedly sucks and chews away, mama wonders how safe it really is.  How can we really know?

In a world filled with plastic, countless product recalls, confusing labels, warnings, and fine print, all of this information and misinformation can quickly overwhelm a new mother, who should at least be able to relax a bit when she hands her child a toy.

And yes, babies will be babies.   Try as we might, curbing this oral fixation of theirs is not entirely within our control.  So why not try to surround them with toys that are actually safe to chew on?  Wooden toys, for example, are a much safer alternative with countless benefits.

A few of the (many) benefits of wooden toys:

  • Wooden toys are Safe:  Let’s face it- babies put anything and everything in their mouths.  Wooden toys that are either completely unfinished or that are painted with non-toxic paint such as water-based, milk-based, or beeswax finishes are much safer than plastic toys, which often contain chemicals that leech out and unsafe paints and finishes.  This is the type of toy that allows parents to truly relax and enjoy watching their babies play and explore their toys in every way they desire.
  • Wooden toys are Educational:  There is no doubt that simple, old-fashioned wooden toys leave a great deal of room for a child’s imagination as opposed the overly flashy, glowing, sparkling, noisy alternative.  This concept dates back to the early 20th century when Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner.  The simple, beautiful designs of wooden toys stimulate children’s imagination and enhance their sensory development.
  • Wooden toys are Durable:  Well-constructed wooden toys, particularly those that are handmade, last a very long time.  They may seem like more of an investment up front, but they certainly are not toys that will be thrown out or sold at a garage sale.  Instead, they are likely to last through many children and even generations of play.

There is a reason that traditional wooden toys have been around for centuries, outliving every other new fad of toys.

The fact is, parents have enough on their plates with a curious baby to have to worry about toys.  Toys should be the least of our concerns!  We already spend hours chasing after our young explorers, attempting to scan the floor and sweep away any dangerous objects before it is spotted by baby.

Choose Quality over Quantity

The solution to the toy dilemma is simple: when it comes to toys, focus on the quality of the toys as opposed to the quantity.  Somehow our society has us all convinced that once baby arrives, our homes must be filled with useless garb, mostly made of chemical-laden plastic, and that for some reason babies require the use of multiple contraptions that will swing, carry, rock, and entertain them while we continue our busy lives.

Invest in a few high quality wooden toys as well as replacing conventional synthetic plush toys with soft, organic cotton or organic wool toys.   Though not a new concept by any means, these “old-fashioned” toys are growing immensely in popularity as more parents become aware of the many safety issues of plastics.

Next on the Blog: The Dangers of Plastic & other Synthetic Toys


“Section 108: Products Containing Certain Phthalates.”  US Consumer Product Safety Commission: Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  16 March 2011

Rider, Kimberly.  Organic Baby: Simple Steps for Healthy Living.  San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007.

“Six Tips for Choosing Safe Toys.”   Organic Baby Resource.  16 March 2011.

“Your Baby’s Environment.”  March of Dimes, 2009.  16 March 2011.