16 of the best wooden toys

Trains, tea sets, carousels, skittles: whatever their shape or size, the best wooden toys have a timeless, top-quality appeal

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Toy Awards wooden toys

There’s something quite special about a beautifully crafted wooden toy. True, they often cost a little more than their plastic equivalents but they look gorgeous and feel so appealing to little (and big!) hands. And they’ll withstand lots of rough-and-ready play – often from a whole succession of siblings.


Here’s our pick of the best wooden toys, as rated and tested by children…

1. Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Wooden Playset, £14.99 – best for fine-motor skills

Age: 3-5 years
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Wooden Toy – Gold

What it is: A 17-piece set of wooden play food with a knife. The whole set comes with a wooden crate (30.1cm x 28.3cm x 5.3 cm) to store the pieces in. Each “slice” of food has Velcro on it, so the pieces can stick together and can be easily cut.

Why we love it: We love how beautifully made this set is. The detail on the wooden food looks pretty realistic, too.

Lindsay, MFM tester and mum to Evelyn, age 4, says, “My daughter loved it. It’s a learning toy which will teach them the safety of knives and how to chop up food.” The tray it comes with is as good quality as the food, too.

Another MFM tester, Natasha, mum to Ethan, age 4, says, “My son said, ‘I like chop-chopping it. The melon is my favourite, because it’s my shop and I sell all the food. And I make sandwiches for Daddy’.”

Available from: Amazon and Bright Minds

2. Wooden Kids Play Mud Kitchen, £199.99 – best for outdoor play

Age: 3-6 years
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Wooden Toy – Silver

What it is: A wooden, treated – so safe for outdoor use – mud kitchen (measuring 88cm x 81cm x 46cm) with a working sink. It includes 2 hobs, 1 sink, and 4 clicking dials. Pots and pans sold separately.

Why we love it: We love the water function! When children push down on the tap, water comes out. The water is then drained back into the tank, and used cyclically. It is also a beautiful toy – which is a bonus, since it’s pretty big and will be in your garden.

Christy, MFM Consumer & Reviews Editor, and mum to Audrey, age 4, and Claudia, age 6, says, “I think this is great value (at the reduced £69.99 price). It feels quite sturdy, so as long as we treat it every 6 months it should last a long time. Being wooden means it’s more eco-friendly and easier to update with a fresh coat of paint than a plastic garden toy. The water feature is a real bonus, as it keeps them away from the (forbidden!) hosepipe when they’re playing in the garden.”

Available from: Studio Retail

3. MURO, £195 – best for variety

Age: 1 to 5

What it is: A large, shape-shifting, modular play centre, made from birch and rubber wood, developed with educational psychologists. Essentially a super high-quality busy board, with cogs and pegs and wheels and switches and beads – and all sorts (you get to choose). Available as a 40cm floor cube or wall board (75cm x 40cm).

Why we love it: It’s colourful, durable and packed with so many different things to touch and move and play with that it more than lives up to its price tag.

Appeals to a wide range of ages (1 tester even reported her 8-year-old enjoying it). We think this one’s a keeper.

Heather, MFM tester and mum to Brooke, age 2, says, “WE LOVE IT! Easy to put together, it’s sturdy and substantial – perfect for inquisitive toddlers. The entertainment value is priceless: we can see Brooke really using her imagination and learning new skills. We’ve all (the big kids, too) been playing for hours.”

Our testers also noted its longlasting, sturdy credentials.

Tania, MFM tester and mum to Ella, 3, adds, You can tell it’s been made with care, and would last a long time. I was very impressed with the quality. Ella’s very excited by all the colours and trying to work out what each thing does.”

Available from: Muro

4. Fishing Around Wooden Fishing Game, £25 – best for multiple players

Age: 3+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Wooden Toy – Bronze

What it is: This brightly coloured fishing game comes with 10 wooden fish (10cm long) with elastic loops, 2 fishing rods, a dice, and instructions. Everything is coloured with non-toxic inks, and made from FSC-certified wood.

Why we love it: We love that there are a variety of different ways to play this game, meaning you can adjust the difficulty levels as your child grows. You can roll the dice to see which fish needs to be caught next, or simply use it as a simple fishing game.

Laura, MFM tester and mum to Darcie, age 4, says, “Great-quality fish and rods, nice and chunky for smaller children. Colours are amazing – really eye-catching. Although my 4-year-old loved the game, she struggled to get the hooks on, and many have a magnet option to get them started.”

Rachel, MFM tester and mum to Teddy, age 4, and Herbie, age 3, says, “My two boys were able to play happily together without our assistance – keeping them occupied while I got on with other things! Great for teaching colours and improving controlled hand-eye coordination. The fact that it’s wooden makes us love it even more!”

Available from: Kidly, John Lewis and Petit Collage

5. My 1st Years Personalised Colourful Wooden Xylophone Toy, £22 – best for a gift

Age: 3+

What it is: A 31cm wooden xylophone with brightly coloured keys. Comes with free personalisation (up to 2 lines of 12 characters), and a natty gift box.

Why we love it: It’s lovely to look at and very well-made – and we particularly like how you can have 2 lines of personalisation to make it really special. This would make a beautiful gift.

Available from: Not On The High Street

6. Brio Smart Tech Engine Set with Action Tunnels, £79.99 – best for train fans

Age: 3+

What it is:  A small but perfectly formed train set with ‘action’ tunnels that react to the train going under them by starting and stopping it, changing its direction and speed, honking its horn and flashing its lights. Comes with engine and carriage, buffer, 3 tunnels, 9 pieces of track, a bridge and a little figure. Requires 2 x AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: Our testers were all wowed by the ‘action’ tunnels – and we liked the solidity and versatility of the track (made from FSC-certified wood).

It’s a pricey but high-quality buy. Samantha, MFM tester and mum to Lily, 3, says, “Lily loves playing with this train set. The tunnels are very clever in how they make the train make noise, stop and reverse! She plays with it for hours, rearranging the track and the tunnels.”

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

7. Le Toy Van Honeybake Cafe Machine, £30 – best for role play

Age: 3+

What it is: A brightly-painted mini (19cm x 11cm x 21cm) replica coffee machine, with 2 wooden cups, spoon, ‘milk frother’ and a selection of coloured pods to place inside the removable filter.

Why we love it: This toy has the most gorgeous (water-based-paint) detailing and is perfect for old-school role-play. Our child testers loved choosing which colour pods to slot in to make a flavoured latte for their parents. Only down side is: the coffee’s not real!

Available from: Amazon

mfm petit collage ferris wheel

8. Petit Collage Wooden Ferris Wheel, £32 – best for small world play

Age: 3+

What it is: A 35cm-high moving wooden Ferris wheel with a crank handle. Comes with 3 painted solid beech wooden characters which fit inside the carriages, and a built-in bead abacus to count the spins.

Why we love it: Our parent testers thought this was absolutely beautiful, being both sturdy and good-looking, and actually even better for the under-3s.

The abacus is a nice educational touch, allowing young learners to count the spins or ‘tickets’ for each ride.

Available from: Hurn and Hurn and Not On The High Street

le toy van activity cube

9. Le Toy Van Petit Activity Cube, £29 – best for babies and toddlers

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 13cm wooden activity cube with plenty of bits & bobs for little fingers to play with. Features 6 different activities including sliding birds, spinning wheels and cogs, and a xylophone.

Why we love it: Long-lasting and beautifully made with a cute woodland theme, little ones will love exploring all the different activities in the cube.

Available from: Amazon and Look Again

10. Melissa & Doug Car Transporter, £14.99 – best for car fans

Age: 3+

What it is: A 35cm-long wooden truck with split-level transporter attachment and 4 cars. The top level hinges back to create a ramp for loading and unloading the cars.

Why we love it: Sturdy, stylish and simple, yet – what with pushing the cars up and down the ramp, and raising and lowering the top level – there’s lots to keep little hands busy.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys 

11.  Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run, £75.99 – best for children aged 6 and over

Age: 6+

What it is: A 54cm x 13cm x 34cm wooden marble run, with 176 pieces, that comes with glow-in-the-dark stickers and both regular and glow-in-the-dark marbles. Pieces include a cosmic dome, glowing loops, curved rails, bases and a marble pool. Can be built into a variety of different runs, using the colour-coded blocks. Comes with an instruction booklet.

Why we love it: This marble run is both beautiful and cool to construct, and you can either interconnect them using the ideas in the booklet or free-build using your imagination. It was a huge hit with all our child testers who found the set exciting to build, and ‘awesome’ when played in the dark!

Available from: Argos and Amazon

classic world carpenter box

12. Classic World Carpenter Box, £24 – best for construction lovers

Age: 3+

What it is: This 24cm x 13cm x 13cm set, made of sustainable wood, contains a hammer, spanner, screws, bolts, wood pieces and screw driver.

Why we love it: We really like the range of tools in this box – the stuff of great carpentry imaginings, as well as good and proper fine-motor-control play, tightening screws and so on.

Available from: Kidly

grimms 6 piece rainbow

13. Grimms 6 Piece Wooden Rainbow, £24.50 – best for versatile play

Age: 3+

What it is: This 17cm x 6.5cm x 9cm rainbow is carved from a single piece of lime wood and each of the 6 rainbow blocks are hand-painted in different colours.

Why we love it: It looks beautiful and is a really versatile toy: you can use the rainbow pieces as a bridge, tunnel, or winding path or even as a baby doll’s cot or wooden animal shelter. A toy with many open-ended play possibilities.

Available from: Babipur

melissa and doug music set

14. Melissa and Doug Beginner Band Set, £30 – best for music toys

Age: 3+

What it is: A colourful music set including xylophone, castanets, a kazoo, a harmonica, and a jingle stick, all in a wooden storage crate.

Why we love it: We particularly like the cute xylophone and the jingle stick: a colourful and nicely made beginner music set.

Available from: After Noah

hevea rubberwood stacker toy

15. Kawan Rubberwood Stacker and Pull Toy, £36 – best for stacking and sorting

Age: 2+

What it is: A 15cm rubberwood duck pull along that also features stacking rings and head.

Why we love it: It’s such a beautiful toy and it’s been made with sustainable materials. It’s also just the right size for toddler hands: our testers kept coming back to this one…

Available from: Kidly

16. Great Litle Trading Co Piccolo Play Café, £65 – best for creative play

Age: 3+

What it is: A small but perfectly formed wooden café, with a pizza oven, hob, and an array of Italian meal ingredients for little chefs to create. Also comes with 2 plates, 2 bowls, and a full set of seasonngs and condiments including a twisting pepper grinder and bottle of olive oil.

Why we love it: There are cheaper, large plastic alternatives, but this sturdy countertop café is beautifully made, and we feel the quality really offers value. The attention to detail, such as a pepper mill that makes authentic grinding sounds, and a grater to finish off your pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan, is fantastic.

MFM consumer and reviews editor, and mum of 2, Christy, says, “We assembled this in about 15 minutes, and the kids (4 and 6) immediately spent a happy hour serving us up ‘meals’. Each ingredient is individually wrapped, so they loved discovering what each one was. The café is smaller than they expected it to be, but you get lots of accessories, which means they can make a new creation each time, and so spend quite a long time playing with this.”

Although it’s not a cheap buy, it feels strong enough to last several children, if you can keep all the pieces together.

Available from: Great Little Trading Co

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