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12 of the best wooden toys

Doll's prams, tool boxes, activity cube and quacking ducks: we've found the best wooden toys for toddlers and preschoolers

best-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’re way more environmentally friendly, and 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.

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We’ve been finding and rating loads of wooden toys and, with the help of our child testers, have picked out the most beautifully made ones that are also the most fun to play with…

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

1. Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Wooden Playset, £14.99


Age: 3+

What it is: A 17-piece set of wooden play food with a knife. The whole set comes with a 30cm x28cm wooden crate 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, they ‘chop’ very satisfactorily  – and we like how they divide differently, giving children an opportunity to learn about quarters and halves and thirds and slices. Natasha, mum of our child tester Ethan, 4, pretty much summed up our child-testers’ verdict with: “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. MURO, from £119

Age: 12 months+

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, super-high-quality  and packed with so many different things to touch and move and play with that it more than lives up to its price tag. Our child testers’ parents were simply blown away: Heather, mum of Brooke, 2, said: “WE LOVE IT! It’s sturdy and substantial and 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.”

Available from: Muro and Babipur

3. Le Toy Van Sweet Dreams Pram, £69.95

Age: 3+

What is it: A 53cm-high vintage-style pastel-pink rubberwood pram with retractable hand-sewn cloth canopy and soft padded mattress. It’s scaled to fit 30cm to 35cm-high dolls and soft toys and comes with a detachable matching changing bag. Some self-assembly required.

Why we love it: It’s a beautiful, sturdy doll’s pram that’s just the right height for a pre-schooler – or even a toddler, who could use it as a walker. It’s also easy to assemble – despite some rather daunting-looking instructions. We like its smooth ride (there are rubber grips on the wheels) but it’s worth noting that the wheels don’t turn so changing direction can be a bit tricky. The changing bag was a big hit with our child testers – the odd toy ended up in there, too!

Available from: Le Toy Van, Bright New Things, Rockaway Toys and Amazon

4. Fishing Around Wooden Fishing Game, £25


Age: 3+

What it is: This brightly coloured fishing game comes with 10 10cm-long wooden fish 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: The rods are nice and chunky and the colours are beautifully vibrant. 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. It is quite tricky to hook the fish on, though – some of our 4-year-old child testers did struggle a bit– so it’s a game to accompany with plenty of encouragement.

Available from: Amazon

5. Le Toy Van Honeybake Cafe Machine, £30


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 downside is: the coffee’s not real!

Available from: Trendy Baby and Amazon

6. Le Toy Van Petit Activity Cube, £29

le toy van activity cube

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 13cm wooden activity cube with 6 different activities on its sides, including sliding birds, spinning wheels and cogs, a door to open, ABC/123 flaps, and a xylophone.

Why we love it: This dinky little cube is proper multi-sensory adventure toy, with something to turn or push or open or tap on whichever way you turn it. Our child testers were enthralled – particularly by the brightly coloured flower cogs you can turn around and the fox door you can open and close. Lovely.

Available from: Le Toy Van, Amazon and Look Again

7. Melissa & Doug Car Transporter, £14.99 


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: Stylish and simple. And what with pushing the cars up and down the ramp, and raising and lowering the top level and wheeling the loaded transporter around, there’s lots to keep little hands busy. It’s maybe not as sturdy as some of the other wooden toys we’ve chosen here but our child testers’ reactions were so positive, we felt we had to include it.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys 

8. Tender Leaf Toys Weather Watch, £47.50

Age: 3+

What is it: A 43cm x 31cm wooden picture board with moveable features so you can display the season, temperature, rainfall, phases of the moon and how windy it is. Comes with 2 double-sided season cards, 9 magnetic weather symbols and a drawstring bag to keep them in.

Why we love it: It’s both educational and beautiful to look at. We love that it include moon phases and also that it displays yesterday’s and tomorrow’s weather, as well as today’s. Our child testers’ parents were particularly charmed by the windiness indicator which lifts the hat further off the little boy the windier it gets.

Available from: JoJo Maman Bebe, Bird Kids and The Toy Centre

9. Classic World Carpenter Box, £24

tool set

Age: 3+

What it is: A 24cm x 13cm x 13cm tool set, made of sustainable wood, containing a hammer, spanner, screws, bolts, wood pieces and screwdriver.

Why we love it: We really like the range of tools in this box – the stuff of great carpentry imaginings. And there’s loads of nice fine-finger skill development to be had tightening and undoing bolts and screws. Our child testers’ parents were particularly impressed with the holes in the sides where you can attach the bolts and screws – genius idea!

Available from: Kidly

10. Grimms 6 Piece Wooden Rainbow, £24.50

grimms 6 piece rainbow

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 even, as one of our child testers did, a baby doll’s cot and a toy animal shelter. So many open-ended play possibilities!

Available from: Babipur

11. Kawan Rubberwood Stacker and Pull Toy, £36

hevea rubberwood stacker toy

Age: 2+

What it is: A 15cm-high recycled rubberwood duck pullalong that also features stacking rings and head.

Why we love it: It’s such a sleek, well made toy, made impeccably sustainably, and we’re impressed by how immediately our child testers pounced to take it for quacky walks – and then knock its head off for a spot of dismantle and stack.

Available from: Kidly

12. Great Litle Trading Co Piccolo Play Café, £65

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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 seasonings and condiments including a twisting pepper grinder and bottle of olive oil.

Why we love it: It’s small and it’s pricey but the attention to detail is fantastic: we’re thinking of the little cheese grater, the pepper mill that makes authentic grinding sounds and the raised edges on the pizza that stop the veggies falling off when you pick it up. Our child tester particularly liked the little brick pizza oven. Easy to assemble (about 30 mins) and offers great long-term play value.

Available from: Great Little Trading Co

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