12 best wooden toys

Ditch the plastic and keep the kids entertained with some high-quality puzzles and play sets

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The Independent Online

Besides looking a lot nicer than plastic toys, wooden ones have so much going for them – they’re timeless; they encourage imagination; and they’re tactile, safe and quiet. Our round-up brings you the best of them, so you can get going with your Christmas shopping.

1. Great Little Trading Co. Jamm Scoot Ride On: £56, Great Little Trading Co.


This scooter also comes in pink, but there’s no need to make it gendered, in our opinion. The red one, however, is gorgeous, as well as being easy to assemble and it’s extremely well-made. Although it is quite heavy, so you might only want to push really tiny tots along. Suitable from 12 months.

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2. Oops Imagine Hedgehog Wooden Toy Puzzle: £15.99, Amazon


We love this Italian/Swiss brand that creates high-quality wooden toys featuring fun animal characters and vibrant colours, and they’re made of strong wood that lasts for years. This magnetic puzzle was a particularly big hit with the littluns we tried it on, gently guiding them to placing the right sections in the right places. But it’s recommended that you only let little ones who are 12 months or older loose on this puzzle. If you have younger tots though, Oops do a range of other suitable toys. 

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3. TimberKits Wooden Skateboarder: £24.99, Bright Minds 


Proving that wooden toys aren’t just for younger children, these wooden kits for ages nine and above include everything you need to make the model and create movement. Put plenty of time aside as they’re not easy, but with a bit of adult help, they’re great fun to make and the result is extremely satisfying. Other models include drummer, Stephenson’s rocket and trebuchet. 

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4. Ikea Mula Building Blocks: £12, Ikea


In true Ikea style, these building blocks are great value and have a contemporary twist. They’re fantastic fun to pull around and kids will also enjoy removing all the differently coloured and shaped blocks to build their own creations. It’s a lovely tactile toy. Suitable from 18 months. 

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5. JoJo Maman Bébé JoJo Wooden Toy Garage: £39, JoJo Maman Bébé


Toy vehicles – especially cars and trucks - are a winner among both young boys and girls and have been for decades. Which means you’ll be hard pushed to find a young child whose eyes don’t light up at the sight of this detailed garage, complete with car wash, moving barrier and helicopter pad. Designed for ages three and above.

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6. ELC Retro Diner Kitchen: £150, Early Learning Centre


There’s no shortage of wooden toy kitchens on the market, but this is the jewel in the crown due to its funky, retro look and sturdiness, as well as the attention to detail. Together, with the fact that it’s built-to-last, means that it’s bound to become as central to your kids’ lives as your actual kitchen is to you. It’s easy to assemble too. Made for three-year-olds and above. 

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7. Orange Tree Peter Rabbit Skittles Set: £15.99, John Lewis


Orange Tree was founded by two sisters, who specialise in recreating classic toys they remember from their own childhoods – and they’ve come up trumps with these six delightful Peter Rabbit-themed skittles that are fun, colourful and top-drawer quality. They’ll look great in a nursery, while slightly older kids will love knocking them down with one of the two balls, then starting all over again. Suitable from three years.

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8. Little Baby Company Wooden Bendy Caterpillar Toy: £5.95, Not on the High Street


Despite this only setting you back just over a fiver, it’s one of those toys that can instantly become a firm favourite among tiny tots. The jointed body sections, which are joined by an elastic cord, can bend into several different positions and help children develop their fine motor skills along the way.  

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9. Areaware Medium Cubebot Multi Colour Puzzle: £27.11, Amazon 


Inspired by Japanese Shinto Kumiki puzzles - that’s Japanese wooden puzzles to you and me - this hardwood cube is made up of lots of pieces joined together with elastic-bands, which can be turned into a wooden man in a range of different poses. Although it’s designed for younger children (three years plus), older ones – and even grown-ups – won’t be able to put it down. 

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10. Bee Smart My First Wooden Activity Calendar: £17.94, Born Gifted


This interactive wooden board is a great way to keep children on top of time, days, dates, seasons and even the weather – giving them an opportunity to rotate dials, move sliders and turn knobs to their heart’s content. It’s educational and fun, while they also have good reason to play with it on a daily basis. Designed for three years and above. 

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11. BoxSet Casdon Wood Play Beach Villa: £22.38, Amazon  


Kids will enjoy hours of playtime with this beach villa set, complete with all the accessories they’ll need for imaginary seaside fun. Best of all, it is all contained in a portable wooden box, which means it’s a great option for taking to those relatives and friends where your offspring normally do nothing but complain they’re bored.

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12. Museum of London Shop London in a Bag Play Set: £18, Museum of London Shop 


Including all the icons of London from the London Eye to Big Ben, which are scaled down into tactile and colourful wooden shapes, this makes a great gift for young children all over the world. The little drawstring storage bag means nothing should get lost and you can educate littluns with a little history lesson while they play. Suitable for three-year-olds and above.

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The Verdict: Wooden toys 

For older kids, the Timberkits are genius – although you’ll need a child with patience to appreciate them. For younger ones, the Great Little Trading Co. Jamm Scoot Ride On is a stunner, as well as being great fun.

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