Best Wooden Toys

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

63 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
835 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best wooden toys

Last Updated September 2020

There’s something incredibly sentimental and timeless about wooden toys. Many adults still own the wooden toys they played with in their childhood, and some choose to display them around the home or office as personal nostalgia.

One reason wooden toys remain popular is that they’re built to last. Unlike plastic and metal toys, wooden toys tend to feature simple yet dense designs. Many have fewer articulating parts than their plastic and metal counterparts, too.

If you’re thinking of buying one or more wooden toys for your kids, you may be wondering where to begin. To help narrow your choices, we created this guide. In it, we cover essential tips to keep in mind as you shop, such as how to spot a quality wooden toy and how much you should expect to pay for it. If you’d like specific product recommendations for the best wooden toys on today’s market, we’ve got those, too.

If your kids have an extensive collection of wooden vehicles or building blocks, invest in a large storage bin to house them.

Perks of wooden toys

Wooden toys are undoubtedly durable, but that’s not the only reason why parents gravitate toward them. In addition to their long-lasting designs, wooden toys are safe and eco-friendly, and they encourage open-ended play.

Safety: No matter how well-made plastic and metal toys are, they still pose a safety hazard if they have parts that can break off. Wooden toys tend to have simpler designs that are less likely to break.

Eco-friendly: Wooden toys are naturally derived and recyclable. Some are sustainably manufactured, and many are made with reclaimed or recycled wood.

Lifespan: Wooden toys far outlast other toys and are often inherited by younger generations. Although they may be costly, the investment is worthwhile because they’re unlikely to break and need replacement.

Open-ended play: In a digital age with countless electronic and interactive toys on the market, wooden toys stand out for their simplicity. Because they are so basic, kids must use their imagination for play.

EXPERT TIP

Wooden toys are ideal gifts for expecting parents who aren’t revealing their baby’s gender until after birth. Since they’re gender-neutral and encourage open-ended play, all children can enjoy them.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations

Signs of quality

Wooden toys have a solid reputation for being durable, but some are made better than others. A telltale sign of a quality wooden toy is soft, smooth edges and corners. This means the toy has been made in such a way that prevents splintering.

Another sign of a well-made wooden toy is detail. Paint should be evenly pigmented. Engraving should be well-defined and symmetrical. Articulating parts should move seamlessly from one position to the next.

Popular types of wooden toys

It’s not a stretch to say that most plastic or metal toys have wooden versions. Here are some of the most popular categories of wooden toys on the market today.

Baby and toddler toys
When you think of a wooden toy for a very young person, you might picture an abacus or a wheeled toy featuring vehicles or animals. Other popular wooden baby toys include blocks, letters, number puzzles, and webby cubes. Wooden toys in this category often remain simple in design to be as safe as possible.

Doll toys
Doll-themed or doll-inspired toys comprise an extensive category. You will find full-fledged doll houses and mini doll house furniture. Many of these wooden toys can be used with dolls made by other manufacturers, like Barbies or American Girl dolls. Magnetic doll fashion sets, in which a flat wooden doll can be “dressed” with magnetized outfits, are also popular.

Vehicles
Some of the most popular wooden toys include cars, trucks, planes, and trains. These vehicles often have spinning wheels or feature magnetic ends that allow vehicles to connect to one another. The vehicles vary in size depending on the playset as well as the intended age group.

Building blocks
The simplest wooden toys are building blocks, which take on a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and themes. Alphabet blocks are popular for babies and toddlers, while slightly older kids graduate to sets of plain blocks with various shapes for stacking. Lincoln Logs, which have been around for over 100 years, are perhaps the best-known wooden toys for kids ages three and older.

Lifesize furniture and toys
Lifesize furniture and toys are often made of wood. These may include fun houses, pretend furniture and playsets, rocking horses, wagons, and even some go karts. They have the most complex designs by far, namely due to a wide variety of moving parts. Wooden play furniture, for example, may have functioning doors, drawers, knobs, or pulley systems that help bring the fun to life.

Board games
Many parents invest in classic board games in all-wood sets, such as Jenga, chess, checkers, or Scrabble. While these games are often more expensive than their plastic versions, the wooden ones tend to be safer and last much longer.

Some manufacturers subject their wooden toys to rigorous voluntary testing by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which has high standards for toy safety. If a toy has received the ASTM seal of approval, the packaging will don its emblem.

Wooden toy prices

Inexpensive: Wooden toys priced between $5 and $50 include a range of small toys like puzzles, vehicles, and building blocks, to name a few. Quality is hit-or-miss in this price bracket, though you’ll find many reputable wooden toy manufacturers here.

Mid-range: Toys priced between $50 and $150 include larger wooden play sets that feature life-size furniture as well as deluxe toy sets. Toys in this category often have articulating parts: spinning wheels, rotating gears, hinged mechanisms, and so on.

Expensive: Wooden toys priced $150 and above include those made by specialty toy manufacturers. They’re usually incredibly well-made by craftsmen and feature a high level of detail.

DID YOU KNOW?

Rather than having pieces that snap together, wooden toys often employ magnets that connect pieces to one another. The magnets are typically embedded into the wood, so they won’t dislodge and pop off.

Tips

  • Invest in wooden toys to help young people develop motor skills. Wooden toys invite little hands to grasp them at unfamiliar angles, which in turn helps kids develop motor skills and coordination.
  • Save wooden toys. When kids outgrow their wooden toys, save a few of their most cherished ones. These old favorites might become beloved hand-me-downs one day.
  • Keep wooden toys away from pets. Pets often mistake wooden toys for their own toys, which is why it’s a good idea to keep them out of reach or off the floor when they’re not being used.
While many wooden toys have fairly simple designs, quite a few of them foster STEM skills, especially wooden building blocks and puzzles.

FAQ

Q. Are finished wooden toys superior to unfinished ones?
A.
Some say yes and some say no. The point of contention boils down to safety disputes. There are a number of toy-safe nontoxic finishes, but some experts say it’s not so black and white. Some finishes, like vegetable oil, are kid-safe but will eventually spoil — which isn’t something you want if it’s a baby toy your little one will chew. For that reason, some parents stick to unfinished wooden toys.

Q. What types of wood are used to make wooden toys?
A.
Hardwoods are the most common woods used for wooden toys because they’re dense and hold up well to intense play, which ranges from gnawing to dropping. Popular woods in this category include poplar, birch, beech, maple, oak, and walnut. These are superior to pressed wood, plywood, and MDF, which are less durable and often rely on toxic glue to hold them together.

Q. How can I clean or sanitize wooden toys?
A.
If you’d like to use an all-natural solution, try a diluted mixture of white vinegar and warm water. It’s not recommended to fully immerse wooden toys; rather, simply scrub or spot-clean them. You can also use a kid-safe, nontoxic, all-purpose cleaning formula. With these, make sure you wipe them down with warm water at the end to remove any residue.

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
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