It wasn’t until I had my first child that I ever really thought about the ingredients used to make many common household objects or their potential dangers. Once I had a little one who completely relied on me for his safety, I started to really research what was in common items like cleaners, scented candles and detergents.
When I discovered the problem with plastics, I started to really think about the safety of many children’s toys. I watched the documentary Unacceptable Levels and it confirmed what I suspected: that there are many harmful ingredients in children’s toys.
Since that time, I’ve been working to find natural, organic and sustainable alternatives to many common toys for my children. I’m a firm believer that the best plaything for children is the great outdoors and building a treehouse that promoted outdoor play was a big priority for us. You can view our finished treehouse here.
Of course, some times during the year, outdoor play isn’t possible so we have a collection of natural indoor toys as well. I haven’t completely weeded out all of the plastic toys yet, but we’ve mostly transitioned to toys that are wooden, metal or other natural materials. These are the favorites at our house:
1. Basic Wooden Natural Toys
By far my favorite toys, especially for little ones. I love finding handmade wooden toys at farmers markets or on Etsy. My boys especially love the handmade wooden swords, shields and knives from Frost Lane on Etsy.
I love Haba brand toys for babies and little kids and they are made to European standards, which are stricter than US standards for safety and avoidance of chemicals. These natural Montessori inspired baby teething toys are also a big hit with my babies.
I’m a huge fan of toys that encourage creative play. Legos are one of the only plastic toys we have, and I make the exception because they encourage hours of imaginative play. For little kids, plain wooden blocks are a great thing to have on hand. We still have some blocks that my husband’s father made for him when he was young, and I also got these all-natural lead-free blocks.
4. Dress Up
We have a variety of play silks that the children use for dress up and imaginative play, as well as many homemade costumes. I’ve found that these encourage hours of creative play at our home. Melissa and Doug also makes a great line of dress up costumes.
5. Wooden Trains
A huge favorite at our house. I’ve found some great wooden trains and tracks on Craigslist and at yard sales and we also have this set.
6. Craft Bins
I love having pre-made activity and craft bins that I can pull out and do with the kids. i’ve chronicled many of our favorites on Pinterest. We also have a wooden tabletop easel for drawing and painting.
7. Musical Instruments
This one isn’t for the feint of heart. Seriously. If you have more than one child, musical instruments can quickly turn a room of otherwise quiet children into a rock band that rivals a crowded stadium in sound levels. Instruments are, however, really fun for children. We have these simple wooden instruments and the children love creating their own songs with them.
8. Dolls & Dollhouse
I lost my last remaining grandparent earlier this year, but one of my most fond childhood memories is playing for hours with the dollhouse she and my grandfather made when I was young. Instead of plastic dolls with fake faces, I had five rooms of wooden doll furniture and a little wooden family with yarn for hair. I redecorated that dollhouse, rearranged furniture, made miniature books for them and took them on vacations in the backyard. My children may not all remember my grandmother, but I have a heck of a dollhouse to pass on to them one day and some great memories to share.
9. Bow & Arrow and Slingshots
What toys are favorites at your house? Share below!