Okay, so this isn’t entirely building related, but we did make a few wood toys in our shop last year! Since we focus on building more sustainable homes that focus on quality over quantity, it makes perfect sense that we carry these same values towards our child’s toys. As you know from reading previous blog posts, we have always been against buying much of anything from China. Even in the busy house building world, we always take the time to search for the best product available. So, naturally with something that is going to be put in our child’s mouth constantly, or next to him for an extended period of time, it made even more sense to continue doing this. The hunt for safe, wood and organic toys (with the exception of a few Green Toys) that were not made in China began before our little one was born, and slowly over the past year, I’ve been coming across more and more options.
So far C does not have any toys made in China (except for one that his Grandma bought). 90% of his toys are wood or organic cotton, while the other 10% are plastic Green Toys, made in USA. These toys may be a bit more expensive than some plastic toys, but we don’t buy a ton of toys. Just like everything we own, we choose quality over quantity. I wanted to share my current list for new or expecting parents because it’s a challenge to research all toys and make sure the manufacturer is not being sneaky.
We made a wooden stacker for C before he was born. It consisted of 5 stacking blocks, made of maple and butternut with a beeswax/jojoba oil finish. We had the time (and ambition) back then, and we wanted to try and make him at least one toy. Unfortunately,we just do not have any time to make him anything else, thus the following list. My mom also sewed him several homemade toys. The crinkle tag toys (basically a fabric square with ribbons all along the edges and a wax cereal bag in the middle to make noise) and fabric balls are his favorites.
I really like Haba’s wood toys. You have to be careful, though, because a lot of their soft toys or less expensive wood toys are made in China. They do a good job of clearly labeling every German toy on their website with a “Made in Germany” icon. We have the following from Haba:
Whirlygig Clutching toy, Trix Rattle, Discovering Ball Paletti Clutching toy, Rattling Caterpillar, Lighthouse Stacker, and Wooden Walker Wagon. www.habausa.com
Banner Toys is a toy company that started off selling on Etsy. Located in Des Moines, IA, they design and craft wood toys and finish them with beeswax and flaxseed oil. C only has a few of their maple and cherry teethers, and he seems to really like the smaller ones that fit in his hands. www.bannortoys.com
C just loves his set of Uncle Goose blocks! They make a variety of alphabet basswood block sets, some come in a neat case or pull wagon. C has the wagon set and loves to push it around. They are printed with non-toxic, lead-free child safe inks and are handcrafted in Grand Rapids, Michigan. www.unclegoose.com
I only have a set of the maple teethers from this company, as C is still a little too young for many of their toys. All of their finishes are child safe, and several of their products even have no finish (like the teethers). They make a variety of educational wooden toys and games in their shop located in Middlebury, Vermont. When he is old enough, I want to get him one of their NameTrains, shape sorter, and a fire truck. www.maplelandmark.com
C just got a few Plan Toys for Christmas – well he hasn’t played with them yet, but I’ve inspected them, and in my opinion they are pretty good for a commercially produced toy. They are made in Thailand out of sustainable rubber wood, which is why I didn’t buy any toys for him when he was younger (putting everything in his mouth, I’d much rather have it be USA grown maple, walnut or cherry). Now that he’s a bit older I feel more comfortable letting him play with a few of these toys. We got him the Drum, Dancing Alligator, and the Kangaroo Push Toy. www.plantoys.com
When C was first born, I purchased two organic plush toys for him, a lamb and a fox. They are beautiful and soft and he loves to snuggle with them, but they are actually made in Romania, not Germany as their website makes it sound. Not that it makes much of a difference, but it’s just another instance where you have to distinguish between words like “From Germany” or “German Company” and “Made in Germany”. Their organic plush toys may seem expensive, but they are made from organic cotton from Turkey and
pure lambswool from Australia. They are also machine washable, which is a huge plus for me! www.sigikid-usa.com
Green Toys definitely goes against the “no plastic” rule, but we have decided to make an exception, especially if we keep them to a minimum. C only has 4 Green Toys (the Tug Boat, the stacking cups, the scooper, and the dump truck). He can’t really play with the scooper or dump truck yet, as he just throws them and ends up hitting his feet! However, his tug boat is his favorite bath time toy, and he enjoys knocking down the stacking cups. Green Toys are made in USA out of recycled plastic. The company is really committed to safety, and all of their toys surpass international standards for BPA and Phthalates. www.greentoys.com