There are many reasons why wooden toys are increasingly popular, but here’s why you shouldn’t shun plastic toys completely…
With the surge of beautiful, handcrafted wooden toys readily available and affordable in the market in this day and age, coupled with all the negativity surrounding the environmental issues caused by plastic toys, there has been an overwhelming bashing of plastic toys in favour of wooden toys in recent times.
This whole filling-your-children’s-childhood-with-wooden-over-plastic-toys ideology has honestly been one of my biggest pet peeves about play. Now before you scoff and decide not to read the rest of this article because you absolutely love all things wooden and/or are extremely passionate about environmental issues, please give me the chance to explain because just to make it extremely clear, I am a massive fan of wooden toys myself and I care about the environment, too.
So yes, wooden toys are timeless and durable.
Yes, wooden toys are definitely more environmentally friendly.
Yes, wooden toys are tactile, safe, less distracting and more interactive.
Yes, wooden toys encourage imagination to flourish and grow with your child.
BUT, those wooden toys that you have in mind and are picturing in your head when you think about some amazing toys? They are great toys NOT because they are wooden, but because they are OPEN-ENDED (see link above with more on what this means!).
This myth that wooden toys are better than plastic toys stems from the fact that most wooden toys ARE indeed open-ended, whereas a large proportion of plastic toys in the market are battery-operated, light-flashing and single-purpose toys that don’t do anything to inspire a child’s imagination or creativity, and get thrown out soon after a child gets bored of or grows out of it.
“But plastic is destroying our planet! Every plastic toy ever made is sitting in a landfill!” someone would argue. Well to that I say the same can be said for wooden toys that aren’t open-ended, too. And what about the issue of deforestation to cope with the surge in demand for wooden toys?
Now, I am in no way advocating for the mindless use of plastic and wholeheartedly agree on the importance of reducing our plastic consumption and preserving our world for our children. But my point here is if you are intentional and selective about purchasing good quality open-ended toys, it doesn’t – and shouldn’t – matter if they’re wooden or plastic, as those will not end up in landfills. They will be well-loved and passed on from generation to generation. My kids have inherited LEGO and Lasy from their dad which my mother-in-law has carefully kept for over 30 years now, and in addition to that, we absolutely LOVE our magnetic tiles, Duplo and animal figurines.
Read more: 7 Single-use plastic swaps to reduce waste
I believe in reducing our plastic use. But more than that, I believe in our responsibility as parents of making mindful and intentional toy purchases. I believe that there are good toy choices out there, and there are some really-not-so-good options out there — and the material that they’re made of has nothing to do with determining their quality. I am 100% confident that all the wonderfully open-ended plastic toys in my household, they definitely won’t be rotting away in landfills in my lifetime or my kids’ lifetime. #SavingItForMyGrandkids
Swipe through the gallery for my top plastic toy picks!
This is honestly the most played-with toy in our house and I’ve written up an entire blog post about the 10 different ways that my children have played with them as babies and toddlers which you can read here so I shall not elaborate on them further. In short, they are worth every cent and more.
Click here to read more about why I love Magnetic Tiles!
Find them in Singapore at: Barefoot Toys
These were probably the first few toys that really encouraged my firstborn to delve into pretend play and role-play. We started our collection with zoo animals and farm animals as those were the ones my child recognised and identified with most from the books we read, and frequent visits to the farm and zoo. Some of the ways we’ve used our animal figurines include props for sensory play. Because they are plastic, they are easy to wash and clean after use. We also use them to complement and enhance book-inspired play, for retelling familiar stories and creating small worlds for imaginative play.
Find them in Singapore at: Barefoot Toys
This is such a versatile open-ended resource. A construction toy to create and build with, great for developing fine-motor skills, as loose parts, to make prints for painting or with playdough, colour matching and sorting etc. The possibilities are endless.
This is yet another construction toy like duplo and LEGO but it connects in a very different way as compared to the former. This is slightly more challenging to build with and requires more developed fine motor skills but the creative possibilities for creating 3D objects makes this such a wonderful addition to our toy collection. My girls love using these as loose parts to extend on their imaginative play and I have to say that in our household, the adults love playing with them, too.
Find them on Amazon.com