Plastic or wooden toy?


Plastic or wooden toy?

The eternal dilemma and a thorn in the side of practically every parent. The arrival of wooden toys on the market has caused confusion. The thousand-and-one affordable plastic toys now have competition. As a result, parents have so much more choices and the desperate search for the best toy for our precious children can begin. We all want only the best for them. But how do we know what is really best?

To make the decision easier, let's focus first on the choice of plastic or wood. For help, we've turned to a lot of research and our friend Google. We all do it. To save you a hefty chunk of time and worry, here are some essential facts about plastic and wooden toys. In the end, the choice is always yours - on your shoulders.

Let us briefly introduce ourselves at this point. We are members of the Kočevje Wood Festival cooperative, which for 10 years has been bringing together wood-related actors to create new skills, new uses for wood, new forms, and new business models. Yes, this means that we will be increasingly inclined towards the use of wood. But today we want to put our cards on the table and talk openly about both the advantages and the disadvantages of wood, not just plastic.

How do we feel about plastic toys?

Let's start with plastic first. It is difficult to say what all parents and educators feel and think about plastic toys, as opinions can vary widely. But the research speaks for itself. The most common opinions include:

  • Convenience: Many parents appreciate the affordability and accessibility of plastic toys, as well as the fact that they are often lightweight and easy to clean.

  • Durability: some parents appreciate the durability of plastic toys, especially younger children who like to put things in their mouths or play rough with toys.

  • Safety: Some parents consider plastic toys safer than other materials such as glass or metal, as they are less likely to break and cause injury.

  • Environmental concerns: On the other hand, some parents have concerns about the environmental impact of plastic toys and the amount of waste they generate. Plastic toys can take hundreds of years to decompose and often end up in landfills or in the ocean, causing harm to wildlife and the environment.

  • Development: some parents also consider the educational and developmental value of plastic toys, as well as their impact on children's imagination and creativity.

It is important to remember that some plastic toys contain toxic chemicals such as lead, phthalates, and bisphenol A (BPA), which can leach out and pose a risk to human health. It is important to pay attention to the labels on products to prove that they are safe for your child.

Despite many concerns, plastic toys are still popular because of their affordability, convenience, and versatility. There is probably not a family that does not have at least one plastic toy in the home.

But what about when the scales tip in favour of wooden toys?

Let's see what the research says about wooden toys:

  • Wooden toys have a long history and have been used by children for centuries. In fact, some of the earliest wooden toys were discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs (logically, they didn't know plastic then).

  • Wooden toys are often made from sustainable materials, making them a more environmentally friendly choice than plastic toys.

  • Wooden toys are often durable and long lasting, making them a great investment for families who want toys that can be passed down from one generation to the next.

  • Wooden toys are made without the use of harmful chemicals such as lead and phthalates, making them a safer choice for young children who can put toys in their mouths.

  • Wooden toys can be used to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in young children.

  • Wooden toys often have a simple, classic design that can encourage imaginative play and creativity in children.

  • Wooden toys can be recycled (well, so can plastic toys, the issue is decomposition).

These are just some of the facts about wooden toys. Whether you want a sustainable alternative to plastic toys or a timeless classic to pass on to future generations, wooden toys are a great choice for families who want to encourage play and creativity in their children and are environmentally responsible.

The drawbacks?

Usually the price, and the weight of the products, they do not include various lighting and sound effects and they have fewer options for different shapes and colours.

Buying a plastic toy does not mean that you are being environmentally friendly.

No, we are not of the opinion that if you buy a plastic toy, you do not care about your child or the environment in which we live. We know that the reality of our world is different. Sometimes it just isn't possible, or your child simply wants a certain plastic toy and dreams about it for days and nights. But you are not going to cause a system collapse or an apocalypse by doing that.

What we want above all is to raise awareness. To present the facts and, in the end, always leave it to the individual to decide. But at this point, let us focus on another aspect - what does a toy stimulate in a child? Is it important that it is only pleasing, or is it essential that the child develops his brain during play?

All parents want their children to be successful in life. This also includes the development of skills and competencies at an early age.

Research confirms that wooden toys stimulate imagination and creativity.

Yes, there is research to support the idea that wooden toys can encourage imaginative play and creativity in children. Here are some of the studies that prove it:

  • A study published in the 'Journal of Child Development' found that children who played with traditional wooden blocks showed more advanced problem-solving and creativity skills compared to children who played with electronic toys.

  • Another study published in the 'Journal of Early Childhood Research and Practice' found that children who played with wooden toys showed higher levels of imaginative play, creativity, and critical thinking skills compared to children who played with plastic toys.

  • A review of the research literature on the benefits of wooden toys published in the 'International Journal of Play' showed that wooden toys can support children's cognitive and socio-emotional development by promoting imaginative play, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

These studies suggest that wooden toys can indeed stimulate imaginative play and creativity in children, helping to promote their cognitive and social development. However, it is important to remember that different children may respond differently to different types of toys and that other factors such as the child's age, the type of play, and the context of the play may also influence the impact of toys on a child development.

Of course, there are quite a few plastic toys that also promote the development of children's skills, but the percentage of such toys out of all existing plastic toys is quite small. Whereas wooden toys are mainly created for this purpose (Montessori techniques).

In the end, what matters is what you feel in your heart.

At this point, we could list a few more benefits of using wooden toys for you and your child, such as the fact that, despite the higher price range, a wooden toy means less of a hit to your wallet in the long run. But it seems to us that we have already sympathized too much with wooden toys. We just can't help it.

What you choose is up to you. We only hope that we have saved you some grey hairs and time and helped to paint a clearer picture of this urgent and endless debate. If you think plastic toys have other "superpowers", please let us know.

Thank you for your attention and if you find the text useful, please feel free to share it with your friends (parents).

See you later,

The Wood Festival team

P.S. Unfortunately, we can't get past this. If you are still with us, you might be interested.

We recently restored a 45+ year-old wooden toy design by renowned designer Niko Kralj and launched it in December with the help of the Museum of Architecture and Design and the media. We called it Konstrukta because it's a construction toy (like Lego bricks). It's made from Slovenian wood! We have to admit, we were pleasantly surprised by the response. So we decided to let as many parents and children as possible get to know it.

Playing with Konstrukta unleashes creativity and imagination, and the group assembly of different shapes and figures builds a functional and empathetic community, as it encourages cooperation and a lively exchange of ideas. It is therefore ideal for family evenings together and for various workshops in educational centers.

So much about it in a nutshell, and you can read more about it here. Even if you don't click on the link, we would be extremely pleased if you at least read today's content or gave us the opportunity to give us your opinion on the subject.

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