My husband and I really didn’t want a bunch of plastic toys littered all over our house. It was one thing that we both felt strongly about when I was pregnant. Then I started doing more research about toys and felt even stronger about our no plastic toys rule. Plastic toys can have BPA, phthalates, and lead in them. There are studies showing that plastic, even if it is BPA free, still leaches harmful chemicals. After our son was born we made a second rule about toys – they can’t be from China. There have been too many toys that have been found to have high levels of lead that have come from China. Even my pediatrician, unprompted by me, told me not to buy toys from China because of the potential for lead. My son, like I’m sure every other baby in the world, LOVES to put things in his mouth. Lead isn’t good in any amount (nor is BPA or phthalates). So no plastic and no toys from China for us. This does come with its challenges at times. Sometimes manufactures are really sneaky about saying the company is from Germany (for example) then in really small print somewhere else on the box it says made in China. As my son gets older I see that this is going to be more challenging but I love a challenge! I’m happy to say at a year and a half old, he has no toys from China and no plastic.
Wood toys may be a bit more expensive than some plastic toys. We don’t buy a ton of toys. We have a good stash going but I feel we probably have less than other people. I would rather spend my money on quality toys. Quality over quantity! Also, don’t under-estimate the hours of entertainment a wood spoon and some measuring cups can provide.
Healthy Stuff has a database of toys that they have tested for toxic chemicals. Check them out here and see how the toys you have rank. I love the Healthy Stuff database – such a great resource!
The safest of all toys is unfinished wood. There are several toy companies that will finish toys in beeswax and an organic oil (like jojoba). This is a great option too. If you want to purchase some beeswax and organic jojoba oil for your toys (or other wood products) this Three Beeauitful Bees All-Natural Beeswax Polish is great! They have 3 different types of polish and only the All-Natural is made with organic oil! Just a note, if a toy is finished with a food grade mineral oil that means it is a petroleum-based oil. Just a FYI. You can decide if you want petroleum rubbed on your kids toys. I personally don’t. I also find it disturbing that food grade oil is made from petroleum. For wood that has paint, I always look for non-toxic water based paints or, preferably, vegetable dyed wood. I also really like to support local companies so if there is a choice I will buy something made in the USA first before other countries. Below is a list of companies that I like, companies I think are ok, and companies that look like they might be good but I don’t like. I just took some of the most popular wood / eco / organic toy brands out there otherwise this list could go on forever.
Disclaimer: I use affiliate links at times. It doesn’t cost you any more but does help support my time running my blog and this page. Other affiliate links might get you a discount which is a win, win! I appreciate you supporting my links as a way to help me offset my time by bringing info to you. I will never be swayed financially, and I will only post products and companies that I would, and do, personally use for my family.
Companies I like:
Plan Toys – I really like Play Toys. They make all of their toys in a sustainable factory in Thailand. In my opinion, they are the best non-toxic commercially produced toy maker out there. They are starting to make composite toys with their left over saw dust. I don’t love this (they use a non-toxic, formaldehyde glue) because it definitely looses the wood feel. You can easily tell which is composite and which is wood just by looking at the toy (you can even tell when looking online – it looks fake for lack of a better word). I don’t buy the composite toys. I get the no waste concept that the company is going for and it for sure is cheaper for them to make toys out of the left over saw dust than buying wood but I still prefer wood. We have quite a few toys from them. Some of our favorites are: the Happy Engine pull toy, the Dancing Alligator pull toy, the Punch and Drop, the Baby Car, the Oval Xylophone, the Roller, the Mini Recycling Truck, and the Drum. Also, their customer service is great. I needed a replacement drum mallet (because our dog ate ours) and they responded quickly and got one out to us for a small replacement fee.
Here is a statement from their website on where the toys are made and the quality: Q: Where are your toys made? A: Our toy factories are located in the city of Trang, which is located in the southern region of Thailand. The area is rich with rubberwood which we have successfully recycled for manufacturing toys. Our toys are produced entirely within our own facility, so we have complete control over every aspect of the manufacturing process. The wood we use is non-chemically treated; we use non-toxic, water-based dyes and non toxic glue. Our facilities and our toys reflect our respect for the environment and our commitment to designing unique natural playthings for children. Q: How can I be sure that PlanToys® quality and safety is superior to other brands ? A: You can always feel confident with PlanToys® because our wood is non-chemically treated and we use water-based colors that are safe for children of all ages. Our research teams have developed non-formaldehyde glue, which is non-toxic and totally free from unhealthy formaldehyde emissions.
Camden Rose – LOVE them! – I am pretty sure they are my favorite toy company. Everything they make is beautiful. They use high quality wood like cherry, maple and walnut. They are made in the US or in Peru where they support two fair trade, non-profit organizations. To read more about them click here. Really, their toys are beautifully made. Each toy I have from them always gets compliments. We have this hardwood stacker (my son loves this toys), the zoom car, wood eggs, wood milk and cups, we have a wooden rattle from them that is just beautiful to look at but I can’t find a link for it, and finally we splurged for my son’s first birthday and bought this kitchen. Yes, the kitchen is expensive and thankfully we had gift certificates to Amazon but even if we didn’t it’s worth it. It’s so nice to look at and made really well. We have it in our living room and I wanted something that I didn’t mind looking at every day. My son absolutely loves it and plays with it every single day. I looked at a lot of kitchens and this was the best option in my opinion. UPDATE: I was just made aware that Camden Rose uses a beeswax and food grade mineral oil (petroleum) polish on all of their furniture and toys. They use their All-Natural beeswax and organic jojoba oil polish on all of their spoons, forks, bowls, plates, etc.. I called them about this and talked to the owner in length. She told me the amount of food grade mineral oil in the polish is a small amount compared to the beeswax. She also told me that it is non-toxic. From the quick research I did, I found the same to be true. There was a study done on rats and after 2 years of exposure to food grade mineral oil there was no difference in the rats. Camden Rose will ship any toy or piece of furniture you would like unfinished. It may take several more weeks but they will do that if you call them. You can then finish it yourself. I can not stress enough about the quality of their toys and how beautiful they are. We get compliments on all of his Camden Rose toys. So if not using food grade mineral oil is important to you just order it unfinished and finish it yourself.
Maple Landmark Toys – they make wooden toys in the USA. They have a huge selection that can be seen here. I first bought this teether from them and since have bought a few more things. I only buy unfinished toys from them as I don’t love what they use to finish their toys with. I have several things on my want list too!
Grimm’s – they are made in Germany. They use a water based paint or vegetable dyes on their wood. Their toys aren’t cheap but I am fixated with them. I really want this rainbow stacker but just haven’t wanted to pay the $40 for it yet. We just were in a toy store and my son was obsessed with a bus that they make. For some reason I thought the price was around $20 so I asked my husband to buy it. When we got home I saw the price tag and it was more than I thought it was! Oh well, my son loves his buses and he carries this bus around with him everywhere now.
Little Sapling Toys on Etsy – I really love this Etsy shop. Isn’t this wooden engraved camera the cutest!? They finish their toys with beeswax and an organic jojoba oil. Check out their shop to find a lot of great teethers, rattles, blocks and toys.
Little Wooden Wonders on Etsy – My newest find! I was on a mission to find a wooden push lawnmower toy for my son that had a non-toxic finish (I found several wooden push lawnmowers from other companies which used a petroleum finish). I found exactly what I was looking for here! They use beeswax and an organic jojoba oil to finish their toys. Check out their selection of wooden push toys, teethers, puzzles, and other toys here. The push lawnmower is beautiful my son loves to play with it.
Smiling Tree Toys on Esty – I’ve ordered several things from them and am always happy. They use a homegrown organic camelina oil/beeswax finish on all of their toys. You can find all of their toys, teethers, step stools, and ornaments here.
A note on Etsy: There are quite a few people making organic wooden toys on Etsy. I haven’t purchased from these people but have looked and them and they use organic finishes on the toys. Manzanita Kids and Bannor Toys (I would buy the natural, polished toys not the painted ones personally but it sounds like they use a non-toxic paint).
Under the Nile for soft toys – Under the Nile has organic, GOTS certified, soft, plush toys. I really love the veggie toys they have. My son loves chewing on the carrot! We also have the dog, the blanket friend toy, and sleep doll. I love that they are all non-toxic and GOTS certified to be free from harmful chemicals. They make all their plush toys with left over fabric from their clothes.
Elves and Angels – They make beautiful wooden toys, playstands, kitchens, house plan, doll furniture, and more. All made in the USA. Most of what I have looked at is unfinished which I love. I like the ability to finish it myself with Three Beeautiful All-Natural Beeswax and organic jojoba oil. You can check out their beautiful toys here.
North Star Toys: I purchased North Star’s busy boat for my son’s bath time. He LOVES it. It is now just a regular toy around the house. He loves the little people in the boat too. I did choose to have them make it unfinished which means that it can’t stay sitting in water for hours on end. I just let it air dry on the side of the tub when we are done with bath time. They use a food grade mineral oil on all of their toys.
Companies that I think are just ok:
Haba – They are a German company that has toys made in different parts of the world. A lot of the toys are made in China but they do have some that aren’t. So read the box if you are concerned about buying toys in China. Here is a statement from Haba on their quality and where their toys are made. Some of their toys don’t rank very well for toxicity on Healthy Stuff. If I were to buy a toy from Haba I would reference Healthy Stuff first.
MiYim – they use to be all organic and use organic cotton filling in their plush toys. They have started using a poly fill on some of their toys. I would just read the labels before purchasing. I prefer an organic fill in the plush toys especially with a baby that is going to suck on toys. Without doing a ton of research on this it looks to me like they were possibly bought out. I don’t buy their toys anymore so I’m not doing any research on this. Just read your labels on these toys before buying since they seem to be making some changes (not positive ones)
Companies that I don’t love (and won’t buy):
Melissa & Doug – they seem to be the most popular wooden toy company. They moved production to China and for that reason they are on my do-not-buy list. They also had a lead paint scare multiple years ago. The results on Healthy Stuff are mixed as well.
Hape – Wooden toys made in China
Wonderworld – Wooden toys made in China.
Dandelion – claims to be organic but aren’t all organic. They use corn as a filling and I am not a fan of supporting Genetically Modified corn. I am making an assumption that they aren’t using organic, non GMO corn here (based on the fact that 86% of our corn supply is GMO corn). According to their website they are also made in Asia (probably China) but they do state they have a new Florida warehouse. Just read your labels if you purchase from them. Made with organic cotton is not the same as 100% organic cotton.
Websites I like: I buy a lot of toys from Amazon, Etsy, and a local toy shop but there are a few websites that have become my go-to sites when I’m looking for something new. I really love Palumba (maybe because they carry a lot of Camden Rose products), Rosie Hippo, Nova Naturals, Little Spruce Organics (is one of my all time favorites!) and Pure Play Kids. I always make sure I know info about the toys I’m ordering from. Just because they are on a non-toxic toys website doesn’t mean they are up to my standards! In full disclosure I have only ordered from Pure Play once and never from Rosie Hippo but I do go to both of these sites occasionally for ideas or if I’m on a search for something.
If there is a toy company you love that isn’t on this list please share it with me!