For the first year of Elijah’s life, it was all plastic electronic toys. I just went into chain stores and bought whatever I thought looked good, with very little thought. We got our first Grimms piece when he was 6 months old which was a medium rainbow, but this was pretty much our one and only wooden toy for the remainder of that first year. All I knew was that it was beautiful to look at and felt nice to play with. It wasn’t until Elijah was 12 months old that I delved into the world of Montessori, thus discovering the true benefits of open ended and wooden toys along the way. I then made the conscious decision to switch and our collection grew from there! It is pretty clear from my Instagram that I have a bit of an obsession with wooden toys, so I am going to break down exactly why that is for those who would like to learn more about it.
1. They are timeless and durable. I know they won’t break and therefore will last through all our children (if we have more) and then their children too because you better know I’ll be hoarding them that long!! We are yet to have a wooden toy break on us.
2. They are open ended. This is probably the most important benefit to wooden toys. What I dislike about plastic, battery operated toys is that they entertain the child while they themselves do very little. It basically does the playing for them, often they just have to press a button then sit back and watch. They generally have a pre perceived, limited use which in turn, confines the child’s imagination. “Open ended” toys mean toys that can be played with in many different ways with no predetermined limitations, the options are endless which means a child’s imagination and creativity can really flourish and come to life!!
3. Social interaction. Being open ended promotes children to be socially interactive with each other eg role playing and/or building worlds together, rather than electronic toys doing everything for them. Toys that talk and make noise actually promotes solo play since the child gets the interaction from the toy itself rather than another child.
4. They’re eco friendly and safe. High quality toys like Grimms and Grapat for example, use nontoxic paint and since they are a natural material, it means they are completely safe and chemical free. Plastic doesn’t decompose so is awful on the environment and the rate in which they break, makes the consumerism of them that much higher. Wooden toys are biodegradable and can be recycled. And because they last so long, you aren’t buying as much.
5. Concentration. Toys that flash and make all sorts of crazy noises actually distracts the child as they play and breaks their thought processes. So in this case, less is more! Wooden toys allow the child to be in control of how they play with the toy without having their imagination and focus broken.
6. Wooden toys are quiet…Need I say more?! I would rather hear the sounds of children’s chatter and laughter than electronic noise.
7. They are beautiful! Wooden toys are so aesthetically pleasing that even I want to be in our playroom. It is my favourite room in the house. They look so nice that even if you don’t have a playroom, you can set up a small play space communally and have it blend in without it becoming a total eye sore.
8. They grow with your child. As mentioned earlier, I still remember our very first Grimms piece being the medium rainbow when Elijah was 6 months old. It was perfect for his little hands, and for when he had just begun sitting. Now that he is three, it is STILL used all the time! Yes we have since added two large rainbows but the medium is still used a lot in many different ways. This is just one example but it pretty much applies to all wooden toys. Because open ended toys have unlimited uses, your child will find different ways to play with them as they grow.
9. Texture. The texture of natural wooden toys stimulates the child’s senses, drawing them in to feel and explore. This is why I absolutely love wooden toys that are unsealed with a matte finish, such as Grimms and Grapat! Our Grimms large stepped pyramid in particular; the pieces are so big and chunky with an amazing raw texture to them that they are just absolutely lovely to handle!
There you have it, the top benefits to wooden toys that have personally stood out to me most. I have seen SUCH a difference in the way Elijah plays and not only that but when he is not playing too! When we are out and about, he doesn’t need to rely on anything to be entertained in order to be kept happy and stimulated. His imagination is always on fire so that he can make do with whatever is available to him. I do believe kids can become reliant on having things entertain them. So while wooden toys can be quite a bit more expensive than plastic toys, I do see the incredible value in them which is why we are happy to make that investment.
Now for some questions that I am commonly asked regarding wooden toys:
Do I avoid ALL plastic toys?
No! I make some exceptions, so long as they are open ended! What I do completely avoid, is battery operated toys. Some examples of plastic toys that I am a big fan of are Schleic figurines (being plastic allows them to look incredibly realistic which I think is great for educational purposes), Duplo and magnetic tiles. Our plastic toys are definitely limited, but by no means completely excluded altogether.
What did I do with our old toys when we made the switch? Did I get rid of everything?
I donated everything we were clearing out but I did keep a couple of things that Elijah absolutely loved at the time that I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. However, as time went on, I couldn’t bring myself to bring them out of storage and onto the shelves anymore! Marie Kondo would be cringing at the thought! I do really need to just get them out and give them away.
The question I am asked MOST asked is , What toys do I recommend for particular ages?
This is going to be covered in another blog because I can’t possibly answer in just a few sentences 🙂
Where do I get all my toys from?
The Creative Toy Shop stocks most of my favourite brands so the majority of our collection comes from there. They ship worldwide too! Other shops I love are The Freckled Frog, Baby Noise, The Small Folk, Nestling and Nook. Any brands I am looking for that aren’t stocked by these shops I source elsewhere just by using google and seeing what pops up.
I hope you have found this blog helpful and now have a bit more understanding of what my obsession is all about! Please message me on Instagram or comment below if you have any other questions or suggestions on more topics you’d like to see covered in upcoming blogs 🙂