I was determined, whilst pregnant with Hector that he would only have wooden toys in his toy box, once he was old enough to play with them that is. You know the ones… the homely creations that you intend to be passed on from generation to generation. I was so adamant that I became a bit of a prima donna when family members expressed their desire to buy something for his arrival; “don’t buy him any toys…unless they’re wooden ones” became my war cry. Yeah….funny how life turns out.
Because Hector likes tat, brightly coloured plastic tat that is…the kind that makes it look like Fisher Price has vomited all over your living room. I blame baby sensory for his predilection for these garish toys but I’m told that bright colours are good for their development so I acquiesce. Currently there is a jumperoo, a jungle gym and a miniature paddling pool that’s been converted into a ball pit taking over our living space. A friend summed it up recently when she remarked ‘man, you’ve changed!’.
In an attempt to regain some control however I’ve summed up the best wooden toys that Hector is lucky enough to have in his toy box and which he really genuinely loves and plays with rather than because I want him to. I’d be interested to know which ones if any that you have or if there’s something I’m missing but I really need to get for him.
I ordered these bespoke wooden blocks which spell out Hector’s first and middle name a few weeks after he was born. Made by Little Sapling Toys on Etsy you can choose from maple, walnut or cherry woods or a mixture of all three and choose whichever letters you need to spell out whatever it is that you want them to say. I opted for all three woods inscribed in upper and lower case and they came in a sweet drawstring muslin bag for safekeeping once playtime is over.
He hasn’t quite mastered spelling at age 8 months, darn it, but he’s happy enough getting them out of the bag and chomping down on them or banging them together.
Hector was given this toy by a friend of the family who guaranteed that this would be the most loved toy in his play box . Officially named the Skwish and made by The Manhattan Toy Company this brightly coloured contraption has various nicknames (which we’ve bestowed on it), ranging from the science toy to baby Einstein. I can’t see the attraction myself, granted it’s light and brightly coloured and thin enough for babies to grasp even at a young age but it doesn’t do much for me but then I guess that’s the point. Regardless it keeps Hector entertained for hours and I’ve watched the eyes of literally every baby I’ve come across light up once they see ‘Skwish‘ so now it’s become a toy staple for all of my mummy friends; we even bought one for one of our pregnant friends due to pop in the next two weeks.
Ok so these aren’t exactly ‘wooden toys’ but I’m going along the ‘paper/card it’s still from a tree’ angle with these woodland inspired flashcards by Wee Gallery. I actually purchased these from Molly Meg – an online kids haven that will do no favours for your bank balance. Seriously I come away every time having visited the site with something new and I currently have this, this and this on my wishlist. But I digress.
Hector loves looking at the monochrome images on these flashcards which have a white background with the graphics in black on one side and then vice versa on the other side. The edges are softly rounded so perfectly safe for tiny mouths and the cards themselves are sturdy enough to cope with bucketloads of drool from teething babies. We have the woodland version but they also offer “Farm” and “Jungle” variations too.
My mum actually purchased this for Hector’s stocking last year and it’s by far and away a firm favourite. The bright colours capture his attention but it’s the ability to twist and contort the toy into different shapes of his choosing that really wins him over. He spends hours puzzling over it and chewing on the eyes to soothe his aching gums. I should probably note that the toy is labelled as age one plus but Hector has been playing with this from about six months and there’s never been an issue per se.
P.S. There is still some confusion as to whether the ‘animal’ is a caterpillar or a worm – I say caterpillar but my husband insists it’s a worm. What do you think?
Pull Along Dachshund and Red Crab
I have a wee confession to make. This pull along dachshund and the red crab aren’t strictly all wooden; the ears on the dachshund and the claws on the crab are both clearly plastic but I’ve chosen to include them anyway. Both are made by Brio and are available at Amazon for easy purchasing.
Hector adores watching the crab’s claws shake as you push the toy along the floor and plays frequently with his eyes which ‘boing’ if you push them. The same goes for the dachshund’s tail. It’s worth making clear here to be extra careful with the long cord on the dog when babies play with the toy for fear of it getting caught round their necks.
Julian The Cubebot
Part robot, part Rubix cube, Julien the Cubebot is a wooden puzzle that’s for daddies and babies alike. It folds down into an unassuming wooden cube but then when unfolded forms a robot that can be manipulated to be posed in lots of different ways. We were bought Julian as a present but you can buy him from Firebox. We have the large version but they do a smaller one too.
Again it’s marketed as age three and above but Hector happily plays with him without much of a problem.
A word of caution though – once unfolded it’s pretty darn impossible to get him into cube shape again. We managed it once but it took an entire evening when Hector went to bed and lo and behold he was unfolded again the next morning – we blamed my sister.
A classic from years gone by, the wooden stacker has stood the test of time. I don’t really need to explain this one and I imagine that many of you have the toy in your possession already but I couldn’t not include it in this round up.
Hector is yet to grasp the concept of stacking the rings up and at the moment I only allow him to play with the wooden rings rather than the pole for fear of some tragic dracula-style staking accident occurring but he seems happy enough chewing on the differently coloured discs.
This version is from Ever Earth who provide themselves on their green credentials – so you can feel good whilst your baby plays too!
So there you are – my favourite wooden toys. What are yours? And do you hate plastic as much as I do?