AS CHRISTMAS APPROACHES, parents are looking for toys that their kids will love and want to play with. Many are also seeking out alternatives to plastic toys that a) seem to take up every inch of space in their homes and b) aren't very good for the planet.
Wooden toys never go out of style, from the first set of wooden blocks you give a baby to the wooden kitchen set you purchase for toddlers looking to practise 'baking'. Wooden toys are also built to last, so can easily be passed down from one child to the next - or from a grandparent to their grandchildren.
While wooden toys used to serve more of a background role in a child's play space, they're now front and centre. It could be that they're gorgeous and very Instagrammable, better for the planet, non-toxic...
It's also that as toy brands innovate and experiment, wooden toys aren't just the ones that adults want to have on display. Toys like rainbow stacking blocks, wooden books, wooden doll's houses (that we'd quite like to live in ourselves) have tons of appeal for kids, too.
One wooden toy maker that every parent should have on their radar is Muro: a toy slash educational activity centre, it's made of rubberwood (a waste product that works well in durable toys) and comes as either a cube or a wall board covered with various toys that transform it into a bespoke activity centre to suit your child's age and interests and adapt with them as they grow.
Other brands that have a dedicated wooden toy selection include GLTC, Le Toy Van, Djeco, Melissa & Doug and JoJo Maman Bébé, which has an extensive collection of wooden toy play sets with a big emphasis on pretend food play (you can even get a wooden Christmas dinner set for your little one).
Petit Collage is another wooden toy brand to watch: the eco-friendly award-winning brand makes wooden kids' toys out of recycled and renewable materials, in bold and bright colours and patterns, for babies and beyond.
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1. Best wooden pushing toy
Brio is well-known as the must-have wooden toy train manufacturer, but this wagon red pushing toy is another high-quality design from the brand. It includes an adjustable handle and safety brake, and ample space for kids to stuff whatever they want in there.
Reviewers love that it's a 'fab walker', 'strong, sturdy and attractive' and 'easy to put together'.
- (AD) BRIO Toddler Wobbler - Red/Yellow, for £33.99 on Amazon - buy here
2. Best wooden puzzle toy
A quick scroll through Instagram will inform you that every single aspirational nursery and children's room has a wooden stacking rainbow - and we can completely see why. This colourful seven-piece toy falls somewhere between a puzzle and building blocks, and the arched shapes offer all kinds of unconventional learning possibilities for little ones. The arches can be used as houses, rocking chairs, doll beds, hills... the possibilities are endless.
It perfectly manages to be both educational and fun and is well suited to a baby.
- (AD) Lewo Wooden Rainbow Learning Toy Geometry Building Blocks Educational Puzzle Toy 7 Pcs, for £13.99 on Amazon - buy here
3. Best wooden travel toy
This adorable wooden board book has beautiful illustrations of bright vehicles across six pages connected by a cotton strap, which affixes onto strollers, bags or car seats. Durable and captivating for babies, it has the added benefit of making an enjoyable clacking sound little ones enjoy.
- (AD) Petit Collage Things That Go Wood Stroller Book, for £12 on Amazon - buy here
4. Best wooden toy doll's house
Le Toy Van's Cherry Tree Hall is a spacious 92cm doll's house spread across four stories, giving siblings and friends plenty of room to play side by side. Customers love it, saying it's 'very well made', 'my daughter plays with it constantly', 'absolutely beautiful' and 'well worth every penny'. This is one of those timeless toys that grows with your children - and
the next generation will adore it, too.
- (AD) Le Toy Van H150 Daisylane Wooden Cherry Tree Hall Doll's House, for £185.15 on Amazon - buy here
5. Best wooden stacking toy
Ideal for helping tots develop their hand-eye coordination and motor skills, this 22-piece stacking game (with 12 different burger ingredients) is ideal for young babies or food role-play loving kids.
'I love this toy. It's beautifully made and has the challenge of hand/eye co-ordination for little hands. Some stackers are size graded which for young ones is not an easy concept to grasp. The hamburger is perfect for a fun language and maths developer'.
- Burger Stacking Game, for £15 on JoJo Maman Bébé - buy here
6. Best wooden toy kitchen
If you can find the space, a wooden play kitchen is a delightful toy for toddlers and young children: it looks nice, serves up endless imaginative play scenarios, from tea parties to cooking for restaurant customers, and it works well for kids of different ages and genders so suits siblings and friend groups. Also, we've found it comes in handy when you need to chuck a load of mess away behind closed doors.
This particular design from GLTC ticks every box - it's compact yet spacious enough to play with, and basically looks like a smaller-scale version of the dream kitchen we'd want for ourselves.
As one parent says: 'Absolutely gorgeous kitchen bought for my son's 3 year old birthday. Easy to build and it’s just beautiful! Lovely sweet details such as the hot and cold tap, rotating oven knobs with cute labels, shelves on back of the cupboard door, tiles and raised hob rings. The colour is fab and matches our decor perfectly. So well made!'
- Pantry Play kitchen, for £104 on Great Little Trading Co. - buy here
7. Best wooden crafty toy
From glitter to pom-poms, crafty toys are fabulous - but also terrible in terms of the amount of waste they generate (that's all non-biodegradable, unless you plan to spend a fortune on eco-glitter for a five-year-old, which you definitely don't).
Djeco's wooden bead box in pastels and floral motifs not only suits the crafty 7-10-year-old keen to make jewellery for the whole family, it's also a great counting, sorting and organising kit.
- (AD) Djeco Feuilles et fleurs, for £14.72 on Amazon - buy here
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This article and any featured products have been independently chosen by The Sun journalists. All recommendations within the article are informed by expert editorial opinion. If you click a link and buy a product we may earn revenue: this helps to support The Sun, and in no way affects our recommendations.