Wooden Versus Plastic Toys: Which One Should You Buy?

The majority of mass-produced toys on store shelves are made of plastic. But eco-conscious parents looking for better quality and more sustainable alternatives should know that there’s a growing segment of wooden toys. 

If you have trouble choosing between plastic and wooden toys, here are the pros and cons of each material. Teachers Choice brings you a wide selection of wooden toys. Browse our collection today.

The pros and cons of wooden toys

  • Environmentally friendly – Many wooden toys are made from sustainably sourced wood while some are made of repurposed, recycled, or upcycled wooden material. And compared to plastic, wooden toys are less likely to end up in the landfills because they’re easier to recycle or repurpose. This makes wooden toys a wonderful option for families that want to teach their children sustainability at a young age.  
  • Open-ended design Wooden toys often come in classic and open-ended designs that encourage imaginative play and creativity in small children. With open-ended designs, kids are free to use the toys however they wish. This sparks their imagination and lets them play with no restrictions on how the toys must be used or arranged. 
  • Durability – Wooden toys, particularly those made from hardwoods like birch and maple, are highly durable. These toys can withstand constant dropping and banging, making them ideal for small children who like smashing their toys against hard surfaces. Hardwoods are also less likely to splinter when dropped, making them the safer choice for small children. Wooden toys are so durable that they are often passed down from sibling to sibling. 

Wooden toys are also easier to repaint as the designs and print fade over time. Plastic toys, by comparison, are often adorned with stickers that can be hard to replace once torn. 

  • Timeless designs – Wooden toys often have a timeless quality to them, especially when they have open-ended designs. This makes them versatile pieces that are more likely to hold your child’s interest in the long-term. However, wooden toys are not as trendy as mass-manufactured plastic toys. Although wooden toys are not as popular as mass-marketed plastic toys, they will outlast passing toy trends. 

The pros and cons of plastic toys

  • Readily available – Plastic toys make up the mass market, and parents can buy them almost anywhere. Mass-manufactured plastic toys offer a lot of variety in terms of design and concept. Wooden toys, by comparison, make up a smaller segment of the market and can often be found in specialty toy shops. 
  • Cheaper The upfront cost of plastic toys tends to be lower, though some of the trendier and more popular toy brands can certainly put a dent in your wallet. Affordable, mass-manufactured plastic toys are also easier to replace when they do break since they’re cheaper to buy.  
  • Trendier Nearly all of the toys being featured in YouTube vlogs and TV adverts are plastic collectible toys. The ubiquity of plastic toys will inevitably make them more appealing to children who see their peers playing the same toys. But the trendiness of these toys means that children will soon lose interest and quickly move onto the next toy craze
  • Not durable – Mass-market plastic toys tend to have poor construction and low-grade material, making them more prone to breakage. Cheap paint and sticker designs also chip, fade, or get torn over time, affecting the aesthetic quality of these toys. As any parent knows, small children aren’t very gentle with their toys, and plastic ones are less likely to withstand constant dropping and banging against hard surfaces. 

Wood or plastic toys?

Wooden toys are durable and versatile pieces that will grow along with your child and spark their imagination. The upfront cost may be higher, but the longevity and timeless quality of these toys will help you buy less in the long-term. Think of wooden toys as investment pieces for your child’s toy box.

They’re also made more sustainably than plastic toys. Wood is a natural material that is easier to recycle or repurpose. Some wooden toys are made of either reclaimed or ethically sourced wood, which means that the manufacturing process has less of an impact on the environment. 

Plastic toys, on the other hand, are trendy, less expensive (in the short-term), and easy to replace. On the downside, they’re more prone to breakage and they don’t age as well as wooden toys. Children might lose interest in trend-driven plastic toys as soon as a new one gets advertised in the market. 

Most plastic toys end up in the landfills within months, if not weeks, of purchase. These are harder to recycle, especially if they contain parts made of steel or metal that can’t be separated from the plastic body. 

Deciding whether to buy plastic or wooden toys is a personal choice. At the end of the day, it’s about the values that you want to instill in your child. 

Buying wooden toys is a wonderful way of introducing them to sustainable living. And if you want to buy less and reduce waste, wooden toys are the better option. Teachers Choice offers a variety of wooden educational toys to pique your child’s interest. Browse our collection of educational toys today. 

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