Go Back To The Basics With Wooden Kids Toys
There is something sweet and sturdy about a nursery filled with wooden toys. From birth to two years of age, children experience an especially rapid rate of mental and physical development and they are uniquely susceptible to the long term impacts of environmental exposures. As a first time mother, I poured so much of my nesting energy into curating a collection of early childhood items with as few plastics and synthetics as possible—glass bottles, wool rugs, and of course wooden toys.
Little did I know that 18 months later my rough and tumble toddler would reveal several other worthy attributes of that investment. Wooden toys last, they are sturdy enough to be passed on for generations and simple enough to inspire imaginative play without all the lights and batteries of their plastic counterparts.
Here are thirteen of our favorites. From mom-and-pop stores and family businesses to independent artisans and large manufacturers, there are wooden toys for all ages of children and all types of play.
1. Manhattan Toy Company
Best For | Wooden infant toys
One of the oldest wooden toy manufacturers that is still a favorite today, many of us grew up with their wooden Skwish which we still buy decades later for our children. Designed in Minneapolis, MN the company produces toys that inspire joy, are safe for kids of all ages, and use sustainably sourced wood and water-based paints.
Best For | Wooden trains
A classic in so many households and a staple in ours, Brio has been producing wooden toys since the 1800’s and their wooden trains have graced the floors of nurseries around the world. The Swedish company is still small, it has just 70 employees but its products can be found in more than 20 countries.
Best For | Wooden magnetic blocks
Believing in the potential for play to inspire imaginations, Tegu produces a simple line of magnetic wooden blocks that evolve with children as they grow by helping toddlers learn to start stacking while older children can build creative masterpieces. The company manufacturers in Honduras, pays local employees a living wage, and sources from sustainable wood cooperatives.
Best For | Wooden balancing blocks
A small company based in New York and Ohio, among other gift and home goods Areaware designs a beautiful collection of architectural building blocks through which children can create beautiful cityscapes. Collaborating with independent designers on a royalty-basis, the company brings playful ideas to market.
Best For | Wooden vehicles
Bajo is a Polish design and manufacturing company that prioritizes bringing sustainable solutions to market. For the past 25 years, the company has designed thousands of wooden toys, many that roll and spin, including a refreshingly simple and gorgeous collection of cars and trucks to ignite your child’s imagination.
6. Petit Collage
Best For | Wooden pull and stacking toys
Founded by Argentinian artist Lorena Siminovich, Petit Collage has a robust line of wooden toys including puzzles, pull toys, and stacking sets for young children. Combining natural wood with bright primary colors, this small California company prioritizes a modern aesthetic and rigorous sustainability standards in all its playthings.
Best For | Wooden animals
Designed and manufactured from solid wood, this German company produces a line of beautiful wooden animals. Each toy is made from beech or maple and is hand painted with non-toxic water-based paints. The soft colors and smooth curves fit small hands and inspire imaginative play among toddlers.
Best For | Wooden push toys and musical toys
One of the more widely available brands on this list, Hape creates among other toys a line of sturdy wooden push toys through which children can explore the world around them. The company prioritizes charitable collaborations and has donated more than 10,000 toys to children in Afghanistan, China, Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Syria.
9. Plan Toys
Best For | Wooden toys for creativity
Based on a principle of sustainable play, Plan Toys are produced from natural rubber trees without fertilizers, they are dried in a chemical-free kiln, assembled with organic colors and dyes and using non-formaldehyde glue. The final product is a line of colorful wooden toys for all ages, inspiring creativity, movement, and music.
Best For | Wooden stacking toys
Grimms is a family-owned company that produces a line of soft, inviting, stackable wooden toys in bright colors and fun shapes. Based in Germany, the company collaborates with a few European manufacturers, and all products are sanded by hand to give a unique soft finish unlike machine-finished toys.
11. Pinch Toys
Best For | Wooden vehicles
Inspired by minimalist design and quality handmade construction, Pinch is a very small company with a beautiful collection of natural wooden vehicles. With raw wood, soft curves, and simple pops of color their cars and trucks are add a touch of simplicity and style to any nursery.
12. Tree Hopper Toys
Best For | Wooden memory games
A small family-owned business based outside of Chicago, Tree Hopper Toys produces creative wooden memory games for curious children. They prioritize safe and playful designs that help children explore and learn while being durable enough to be passed on for generations.
13. Uncle Goose
Best For | Wooden alphabet blocks
Uncle Goose does one thing very well: building blocks. The company innovated on the simple cube design, adding incredible colors and illustration to provoke creative, imaginative play. All sets are handcrafted in Grand Rapids, MI using local materials and nontoxic child-safe inks.