With so many options available, choosing safe, quality toys for your kids can be challenging and overwhelming. Fun toys that inspire creativity and imaginative play are an important part of learning and growing. But with so many bright, flashy toys on the market, your house can easily become cluttered with a sea of neglected plastic playthings. To keep your sanity and best steer your child’s development, let’s get back to basics.
Choosing Simple Toys
If you look at the toys that have stood the test of time in your household, chances are they are among the most simple. Toys made from natural materials like wood or cloth are among the most durable. When choosing toys that engage our children instead of just entertaining them, we need to look at quality over quantity. Simple toys can often be used in different ways, growing with your child. Purchasing a few high-quality, safe, eco-friendly and locally or handmade toys for your child is a much greater investment than buying dozens of cheap plastic toys.
What to Look for in a Toy
- Safety – Toys without lots of small pieces or batteries are recalled less often than more complicated toys.
- Quality – A well made product made from quality ingredients like solid wood, or is hand made, will last generations.
- Made in USA – Products made locally supports our economy, are subject to stricter safety standards and are made with fair labor.
- Eco-friendly – Toys that are made from renewable resources and are recyclable have a smaller environmental impact.
- Natural – Toys made from natural materials contain less toxins like lead and phalates that are often found in cheap plastic toys.
- Creative – Toys that encourage active learning require a child to interact with them and can be used in multiple creative ways.
Five Favorite Simple Toys
Classic Wooden Stacking Rings
Brightly colored stacking rings encourage the development of motor skills, color recognition and shape identification. The rings can be stacked, spun, banged together and spilled. Made of natural kiln dried hardwoods with non toxic paints. Made in USA by Holgate Toys, $21.95
Cardboard Building Blocks
My sisters and I have found memories of building forts, castles and walls out of these cardboard boxes. These colorful blocks are made from recycled cardboard and are recyclable. They are printed with non-toxic inks and are sturdy but lightweight for years of creative play. Made in USA by ImagiBRICKS, 40 Piece Block Set for $49.87.
This adorable soft panda bear is made with organic bamboo and recycled soda bottles terry stuffed with bamboo fiber. Handmade in South Carolina, this cuddly guy is free of chlorine and formaldehyde. Made in USA by Bamboosa, $25.
Mancala Wooden Board Game
Mancala is classic game enjoyed by kids of all ages. This set is handcrafted from pine in Vermont and is sealed with a non-toxic finish. Encourages memory and problem solving skills. Made in USA by Maple Landmark, $17.95.
Zoom Scoots are small wooden cars are perfect for a toddler’s small hands. Handmade in Vermont, they are available in a dozen varieties, from an ice cream truck to a duck on wheels. Made from solid wood and non-toxic paint by Maple Landmark, $5.45 each.
Places to Find Quality, Simple Toys
888 Toys – solid wood toys and furniture
Heirloom Wooden Toys – handcrafted wooden toys
Silly Creatures – educational and therapeutic plush toys
Tiger Candy Arts – handmade sock puppets
Wikki Stix – educational waxed yarn toy
Hearth Song – quality toys and gifts
Magic Cabin – handcrafted toys and gifts
Pure Play Kids – battery-free natural wooden and cloth toys
KangarooBoo – wooden and handcrafted toys
Made in America Marketplace – locally made toys
What factors do you consider in choosing a quality toy for your child? What are some of your kid’s favorite toys?
Sarah Mazzone is a writer, nurse and Mom living just outside Philadelphia, PA. She founded made in usa challenge to detail her mission to find goods made in USA that are safe, ethically made, eco-friendly and awesome. Her blog has become a resource for conscious consumers looking for the best products made in America.