Are wooden toys better than plastic?

Are wooden toys better than plastic?

Some babies play exclusively with wooden toys. Others engage with a mix of plastic and wooden. Some parents may not think much about the materials used, while others meticulously curate a play area of strictly wooden toys.

Well-known toymaker Fisher Price recently released a line of wooden toys “made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified sources,” meaning the wood was naturally grown without chemical pesticides or removed from indigenous cultural sites. The wooden toys are “designed to encourage the development of fine motor skills, sharing and creative play.”

So what’s the difference between wooden and plastic toys? 

“Well-made wooden toys tend to be safer for infants and children because babies put things in their mouth. So, toys made from natural elements are safer,” explains Dr. Markeita Moore, a pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Hospital.

She points out that some researchers suggest wooden toys boost imagination and creativity, therefore enhancing cognitive development.

“Especially when compared to plastic toys that make sounds or have flashing lights, wooden toys promote learning because of their open-endedness,” says Dr. Moore. “There are countless ways to interact with a wooden toy, whereas many plastic toys are limited in how a child can play with them.”

The integrity of wooden toys is another feature that sets them apart from their plastic counterparts.

“Good wooden toys tend to not break easily,” she says. “Plastic toys do, creating unsafe edges. Although, wooden toys can also become dangerous in their own ways. Make sure your child’s wooden toys don’t have old, chipped paint and splinters.”

Are you trying to find a pediatrician? Find one in Illinois or Wisconsin. 

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.