As an antidote to the plastic which can surround living with a baby and a toddler, I have tried to fill my life with some lovely wooden things. Apart from wood, we have some toys which are second hand (strict parameters apply for these in our house!) and handmade.
Wood, as a natural substance, is lovely to look at, hold, touch and play with. It is biodegradable and, if well made, wooden toys can last a lifetime. If I could have a house full of wood, I’d be a very happy lady! Wood brings my thoughts closer to nature and closer to my dream of living a simpler lifestyle.
Wooden toys can be just as colourful as plastic, great for teaching colours and patterns to small minds. A stacking train is always a winner and rainbows have endless possibilities for imaginative play when combined with small figures (we love sylvanians). The rainbow has also been enjoyed by several teething babies 🙂
Stacking rings help with counting, a threading apple is great for fine motor skills and our caterpillar is really good for fiddling with! The only issue I have with stacking rings is that it can be hard to keep track of all the rings!
I found these stacking monkeys in the Traidcraft online shop who have a nice wee collection of wooden toys. Although not produced locally, they are fair trade so therefore meet with my approval! The beauty of these monkeys is that they are incredibly light but because they are handmade, each monkey has slightly different colourings and patterns on it, making them a thing of beauty.
A timeless classic has got to be bricks. Let me introduce you to Tegu bricks, an innovative company based in Honduras. They place magnets inside colourful wooden bricks which allows children’s imaginations to run riot with endless possibilities for play. This is a company who looks after their employees by paying a good wage and helping them achieve career goals. They look after the planet by planting 983 trees for every 1 tree they harvest, and they help fund a school for children who had been working to earn money from collecting rubbish at a dump.
These bricks are completely ageless – my youngest and my mother in law like playing with them! I think the older you are, the more knowledge you have about things you could make! Check out their website for inspiration, there’s some really fab ideas! They come packaged in a lovely cardboard box also with minimal plastic, very much a winner.
A favourite with both my 3 and 1 year old, a wooden dolls house is an essential in a family home! Ours is not only wooden but also second hand from a very good friend, which ticks all my green boxes and is a lovely reminder of our friendship every time I see it! This is where our sylvanians hang out along with the occasional car or musical instrument! (Technically my sylvanians, from my childhood…many fond memories of many a happy hour and I’m glad they’ve lasted this long!)
In the city where I live, we have a really good second hand charity shop called Good Green Fun that specialises in babies and children. It started out life just to save stuff from going to the rubbish dump, but now they have become a firm favourite for parents and carers. It is always the first shop I mention that parents-to-be need to know about! I would hope that each city in Scotland could have a shop like it! It has saved us a lot of money.
Two of my favourite buys so far are push along toys. My children have races up and down the living room with them. When they first arrived in our house before our youngest was born, number 1 loved to take one out for a really long walk all round the streets where we live, hence to well worn paintwork!
Below is an example of how wooden toys can last for a long time. This skipping rope was my granny’s when she was a girl at primary school some 80+ years ago. My children are not ready for skipping yet but when they are, I will let them use this. I love the connection that can be made between generations just by a simple object.
Wooden toys can be educational if you want them to be! My oldest, 3 and a half, loved playing with this lace-up shoe today. She is nowhere near ready to tie shoelaces (she doesn’t have a pair to practice on) but it will give her the skills she needs when the time comes. My youngest loves undoing all her good work and using the laces to pull the shoe round the house behind him!
It goes without saying that wooden puzzles are always a good idea, especially when they are hand-ons! They can be chewed, bashed, thrown and stood on without any harm coming to them (unless you’re a really big kid). They are bright, colourful and easy to hold. We have several different puzzles (all hand-ons) but I keep them in separate bags due to my slight OCD fear of them getting mixed up or pieces getting lost!
Last but not least for my brief introduction into the wonderful world of wood is wooden instruments! I have a very low tolerance for anything that flashes, plays tunes or even worse…does not have an off switch!! However, I do appreciate music. In fact, I love music. I play the piano and clarinet and since becoming a Christian, have learned to sing a bit and really enjoy singing in church.
Making a noise is especially important to those who do not yet have a voice, namely, my 18 month old son. We also have wooden bongo drums, which he really loves bashing as loud as he can. His very favourite thing is bashing a saucepan with a wooden spoon, but failing that, he carries two shakers around the house, shaking and bashing as he goes! There’s a very cute bum-wiggle that goes along with shakers when there’s any music playing!