Children have been playing with wooden toys for centuries.
And although plastic has dominated the toy market in the last decades, toys made of natural materials haven’t disappeared and have stood the test of time.
As a matter of fact, thanks to the growing popularity of various educational approaches focused on purposeful and imaginative play (such as the Montessori method or the Waldorf education), wooden toys are returning to children's playrooms more and more.
In this short guide, we’ll take a look at wooden toys and their benefits recognized by both educational experts and parents all around the world.
Humankind has always had a special relationship with wood. Not only has it been a practical and most affordable building material throughout history, it also connects us to nature in a way other materials can’t.
It’s been proven that wood has a calming effect on us - when we touch wooden objects or look at wooden surfaces, it activates parts of our brains that contribute to our well being. Several studies suggest that people who are stressed will calm down easier in a room that contains wood.
Wood is a natural material that helps children to understand their environment and connects them to nature more easily. This is something we should keep in mind, when furnishing our children’s room, but also when choosing toys for them, as these are first real world objects they come in contact with.
Wooden toys don’t have any batteries in them. They don’t produce any artificial sounds or lights. You may say they are rather simple.
But it’s this simplicity that makes them so great for the healthy, natural development of your child. Children that have been overstimulated with too many sensory impulses may have problems focusing on one thing for a longer period of time.
Wooden toys don’t try to overwhelm children, quite the contrary, they improve their ability to focus, encourage imagination and create an opportunity to play creatively. After all, the experience of many parents is very similar - the toys their children spend the most time playing with are usually simple, open-ended toys like wooden blocks.
Another important point is that wooden toys are usually made with the aesthetics in mind. There’s certain beauty in the timeless look of a simple wooden toy.
As French philosopher Roland Barthes said: “Wood is a familiar and poetic substance, which does not sever the child from close contact with the tree, the table, the floor. Wood does not wound or break down; it does not shatter, it wears out, it can last a long time.”
This special kind of beauty is impossible to be replicated by human-created materials. Exposing your child to this beauty has a variety of positive effects and helps to develop their sense of aesthetics.
Wood is an environmentally friendly material. Toys made of wood are biodegradable and recyclable and do not create any unnecessary burden on the environment.
Also, most wooden toys (including the ones by HABA) are made from timber from sustainable forestry that contributes to the ecological balance of the forests around the world.
There are many great materials and books teaching children about the importance of eco-conscious behavior. By buying environmentally-friendly wooden toys, you can show your little one what it means in practice.
A quality wooden toy may be a little bit more expensive than its plastic counterpart. But it is much more durable, which means it will last longer and provide endless hours of play time.
Last but not least, wood is very sturdy, so you don’t have to worry that the wooden toys will break and create sharp, potentially dangerous parts.
That brings us to the last point...
Wood doesn’t contain any artificial components. What’s more, it has naturally antibacterial quality - it has a porous surface that absorbs moisture and doesn’t allow bacteria to multiply the way it does on other materials.
This is great news for parents worried about their children putting every toy in their mouth. Unfinished wood, or wood finished with solvent-free lacquers and water-based colors is perfectly safe to be chewed on. After all, using all the senses is the best way for little children to explore the world around them.
Wood is a natural material that provides a unique sensory experience for your child and toys made from wood provide many benefits. They are simple, beautiful, environmentally-friendly, durable and safe.
The benefits of wooden toys are undeniable. This doesn’t mean you should look down upon plastic. Just make sure you’re more conscious about the quality of the toys you give to your children.