This is a reprint of an article I wrote for last year. It’s a topic that comes up often, so I thought it would be good to share it here.

Wooden Toys – the Economical Choice

I often hear parents say, “I’d like to have all wooden and natural toys in our house, but they seem to cost so much more than plastic toys.” But, once parents hear how economical wooden toys really are, and how easy it is to make the switch, most parents can’t wait to get started.

The most economical aspect of wooden toys is that you need fewer wooden toys to replace plastic ones. Why? Because wooden toys can be and do more than one thing, as they stimulate the child’s imagination and allow the child decide how to play with the toy. For example, our sons have a wooden cone sorter that cost less than $20. But it’s not your average sorter with a pole and five plastic rings. It has a base and eight other shapes in various colors, so a child can create all sorts of different shapes and designs as he stacks the pieces, and he doesn’t even have to stack them at all! Our sons use the pieces in their building activities, which would be hard to do with wobbly plastic pieces. One of the pieces in the sorter is a long cylinder, so that has been used as a flute, a flag pole, a (pretend) goo squirter, and more. So by purchasing one $20 toy, we’ve replaced several plastic toys that each had only one purpose.

I’ve also heard many frustrated parents say that they have a house full of plastic toys that their kids never play with. Well, that’s not very economical! Here are a few reasons why this happens:

  • Children feel a stronger connection and respect for wooden toys since they are made from a natural, living thing, so they are treated better and last longer. As an adult, you probably feel the same way. If you were offered your choice of a wooden bookshelf or a plastic bookshelf, which would you choose?
  • When kids have too many toys around, it can be overwhelming to them. Rather than choose one toy, they either quickly cycle through several of the toys, not spending much time with any one toy, or they feel like they can’t choose a toy at all. When a house has fewer toys, the children can easily see them all, and they appreciate them more.
  • Plastic toys are easy to crack and if they are battery-operated, the motors and parts seem to break easily. My son’s birthday was this week, and within one day of opening plastic presents that he received from friends, two of the presents were broken, and no rough play was involved. And now where are they? Filling our landfills.

Finally, since wooden toys last, they can either be saved and passed down to future generations or given as a new baby gift (the toys will likely look new, and even with minor blemishes the new mom will be thrilled to receive natural toys). They can also be sold on ebay for a large percentage of the toy’s original cost. And because they are so beautiful and made from a living thing, it is very hard to throw away a wooden toy, yet surprisingly easy to toss a plastic toy. This means there are tons of plastic toys in landfills, but far fewer wooden toys. So, in addition to the economic benefits that a family gains by purchasing wooden toys, perhaps the greatest benefits are the immeasurable savings to the earth.

– Sheri Novak, owner of

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