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Back to Basics: the joys of simple toys

With so many toys available on the market today, the task of choosing children’s play items can become an overwhelming and daunting experience. It seems the greater choice we are given, the harder the selecting process becomes and finding children’s toys that are safe, durable and engaging is proving a challenge. Although there are toys that do everything from educating to entertaining children, often the simplest items are the most cherished.

My inner-child still rejoices whenever I find lovely wooden toys. Growing up, my absolute favourite toy was a small pink wooden trolley. It was perfect. Small enough that I could push it round independently, but large enough to fit soft toys, food, clothes and on one occasion, the family puppy. My trusty trolley remained a big part of my childhood before my mother eventually gave it away (much to my dismay) as I no longer used it. Flash forward several years and I’m now a doting aunty of many children. It’s lovely to see my nieces and nephews play with the same wooden trollies that I loved in a variety of colours and sizes. There has always been something attractive and magical about simple toys that children (and adults) adore.

Even now when I buy presents for children, I try and find something wooden which I know will last. I also feel less guilty handing over a present to parents that doesn’t make a noise, light up or require batteries. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the reliability and functionality of wooden toys.

Whether you choose wooden toys or other basic play items, the benefits of keeping it simple are many. Here are a few of my reasons for choosing simple:

1. Classic and timeless

Wooden toys are timeless and it is not hard to see why. With their quality structure and strong nature, wooden toys can be handed down through families and generations, enjoyed by grandparents, parents and children alike.

2. Durability and safety

It’s quite a reasonable assumption that when children are playing with toys they are hardly going to be careful. With this in mind it seems futile buying fragile toys with a short life expectancy. Wooden toys and items excel in durability and safety. From wonderfully well-made wooden trains to basic stacking blocks, there are many options out there that are safe for little ones, 100% natural and resilient to being dropped, dragged and dribbled on.

3. Build on fine and gross motor skills

Basic wooden toys are great for further developing little one’s fine and gross motor skills. From creating towers with wooden blocks to grasping wooden puzzle pieces, children’s motor skills can be further encouraged through safe play with durable items.

4. Encourage imagination and creativity

Basic toys are great for letting children’s imagination run wild. The no-fuss nature of these toys encourages children to develop their own themes, places, ideas, characters and stories. Mass-produced items often don’t allow for much originality or creativity in play, with many toy themes and characters pre-established.

5. Quality over quantity

Sourcing quality products (and ideally local wherever possible) can often be more expensive and time consuming, but long term have many benefits for children and families. Wooden toys may cost more than plastic, but they can save you having to buy more toys down the track. And if you can purchase quality, local products, you’ll be supporting small business and local families which is always a positive.

Whatever toys you choose, at the end of the day it really comes down to finding what items suit you and your family. But as a wooden toy loving enthusiast, I encourage you try simplifying what you buy. Scout op shops, garage sales and local producers for quality wooden toys, and let us know what you can find!

Hannah xx