15 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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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.

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Here are 15 of the best wooden toys, as rated and tested by children…

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1. Carousel Wooden Train Set 60 Pieces, £15

GOLD winner, Best Wooden Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 3+

What it is: A 60-piece wooden train set, with straight and curved track pieces that you can flip over to make into a road instead. Includes trees, people, animals and traditional village buildings, such as a sweet shop, fire station and hospital. Made from FSC-approved wood.

Why we love it: It looks lovely, the pieces are chunky and nicely detailed – and it’s amazing value for money! A perfect first train set.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Lots of pieces, and lots of options to change the track layout. Grace plays for hours with this. She enjoys taking the track apart and attempting to build her own track.’ Kara, mum to Grace, 3
  • ‘Well made, nicely coloured and looks durable. Finley loves this toy – he was playing with it before I’d even got it set up!’ Helen, mum to Finley, 3

Available from: Widely available in Tesco Superstores (not online).

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2. MURO, £195

SILVER winner, Best Wooden Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

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 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.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘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.’ Heather, mum to Brooke, 2
  • ‘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.’ Tania, mum to Ella, 3

Available from: Muro

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3. My 1st Years Personalised Colourful Wooden Xylophone Toy, £22

JOINT BRONZE winner, Best Wooden Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

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’slovely to look at and very well-made – and we particularly like how you can have 2 lines of personalisation. This would make a beautiful gift.

What our child testers made of it:

  • Eliza just loves it this.’ Tasneem, mum to Eliza, 3

Available from: Not On The High Street

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4. Smart Tech Engine Set with Action Tunnels, £79.99

JOINT BRONZE winner, Best Wooden Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 3+

What it is:  A small but perfectly formed trainset 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 pricey but a high-quality buy.

What our child testers made of it:

  • 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.’ Samantha, mum to Lily, 3
  • Charlie says he loves his new train and wants to play with it every day. He and his older sister have fun moving the tunnels about to see which way the train will go.’ Zoe, mum to Charlie, 4

Available from Amazon and John Lewis

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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! A gold winner in our 2017 Toy Awards.

Available from: Amazon

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6. Bigjigs Toys Tea Set on a Tray, £31.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 10-piece 22cm x 12cm x 28 cm wooden tea set with a tray, 2 cups, 2 saucers, 2 spoons, a teapot with lid, a milk jug and a sugar pot. You can buy extra plates and pan sets to match.

Why we love it: It’s perfectly sized for preschool fingers, lovely quality and charmingly gender-neutral. Our child testers last year particularly liked that the teapot had a lid you can take off and put back on, awarding it Silver place in our 2017 Toy awards.

Available from: Wooden Toy Shop

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7. Petit Collage Wooden Ferris Wheel, £32

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

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8. Le Toy Van Petit Activity Cube, £29

Age: 2+

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

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9. 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: 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 

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10.  Hape Quadrilla Space City Marble Run, £75.99

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

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11. Classic World Carpenter Box, £24

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.

Where to buy it: Kidly

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12. Grimms 6 Piece Wooden Rainbow, £24.50

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.

Where to buy it: Babipur

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14. Melissa and Doug Beginner Band Set, £30

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.

Where to buy it: After Noah

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15. Kawan Rubberwood Stacker and Pull Toy, £36

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…

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Where to buy it: Kidly

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