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What to Buy for Kids: Plastic or Wooden Toys?

What to Buy for Kids: Plastic or Wooden Toys?

With a plethora of toys in the market, parents are bound to get confused. While buying toys for their child, parents need to consider the child's safety and the toy's durability as well. This is the reason why more parents are opting for wooden toys instead of plastic ones. This AptParenting article provides differences between the wooden and plastic toys, to help parents make the right decision.
Parul Solanki
"People used to play with toys.
Now the toys play with them."
- Idries Shah, Reflections
Toys play a major role in the development of a child's imagination, thinking, and language skills. Even in the age of computer games and gaming consoles, toys form an essential part of a child's development. This is the reason why parents need to be careful about the toys that they choose for their child. Careful while buying toys? But aren't toys just for fun? Yes, they are fun, but toys should also allow the child to use his/her imagination and train his/her inquisitive mind.

As parents, you are exposed to a plethora of toy options, from cheap and colorful, inexpensive plastic toys to beautiful and expensive wooden and fabric toys. Apart from the intended use of the toy, you need to consider its durability, safety, and maintenance as well. If you are wondering whether to select that expensive wooden toy or opt for a cheaper plastic alternative, here are some pros and cons of both wooden and plastic toys that can help you make the right decision.
Wooden Toys
Wooden Toys
Wooden toys are great for sparking a child's creativity and imagination. Toys made of wood have been around since ancient times and continue to fascinate us even today with their simplicity and elegance. Here are some pros and cons of buying wooden toys for your kid.
Advantages
Simplicity
One of the main reasons why wooden toys are so appealing is because they are simple and versatile. Although most parents believe that a whirring, beeping toy may appeal to a child, the truth is that most children love toys that inspire inventive and imaginative play. This is the reason why you see children stuck to the box that the toy came in rather than playing with the toy itself. Instead of the dictated play with plastic toys which make sounds and run on batteries, wooden toys are simple and help develop problem solving and fine motor skills. Instead of thinking for the child and stifling the creativity and imagination with plastic toys.

Durable and Reusable
Unlike most plastic toys, wooden toys last for ages. Some wooden toys are used for generations. Although, these days, plastic toys are heavily marketed and wooden toys are almost non-existent, most of these cheap plastic toys end up in landfills. On the other hand, the durability of wooden toys means that they can be reused for a long period of time.

Safe and Non-toxic
Made of organic material and decorated with natural dyes, wooden toys are considered safer than their plastic counterparts which have toxic chemicals, such as phthalates, that are responsible for a number of endocrine disorders, neurological, and reproductive problems. Even when you are choosing wooden toys, it is important to check and choose ones that contain non-toxic paints.

Moreover, since wooden toys are smooth, well made and less prone to damage, they do not break as easily as plastic toys. The sharp edges of a broken plastic toy can harm your child.

Good for the Environment
What do you do when your child gets tired of playing with a toy. You probably throw it away just like everyone else. Unlike plastic toys that take years to degrade, wood is a renewable, biodegradable resource, which means that by using these toys you are doing a world of good for the environment. Also, wooden toys are often made by local manufacturers, which reduces the need for fossil fuels that transport plastic toys halfway across the world.
Disadvantages
Expensive
Wooden toys are definitely quite expensive and not readily available. Having said that, it is also important to consider that although the initial investment may be more, your child will probably be playing with a wooden toy for a longer time and probably, even pass it on to someone else.
Plastic Toys
Plastic Toys
Plastic toys are extremely popular. There are countless toy manufacturers producing different types of plastic toys. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of plastic toys.
Advantages
Cheaper
The fact that they are much cheaper than wooden toys is what makes plastic toys popular among parents. Since children tend to get bored of the same toys, parents prefer not to spend a whole lot of money in getting expensive ones. So, instead of spending more money for buying wooden blocks, a parent might choose to buy simple plastic blocks. They are also very easily available in almost all toy shops.

Washable
Plastic toys are easy to maintain as they are easily washable and can be easily wiped down. So, if your child decides to drop it in a bowl of soup, you can pick it up, wash it, and hand it over to your child.

Colorful and Attractive
One of the best things about plastic toys is that they are bright and colorful, which appeals visually to the child. There are many wonderful designs of plastic toys that make them fun and entertaining for a kid. On the other hand, wooden toys may appear boring and dull.
Disadvantages
Toxic and Unsafe for Kids
A common ingredient in plastic called Bisphenol A (commonly called BPA) that causes endocrine disorders can leach into your child's system when they chew on their plastic toys. There are also concerns about the PVC phthalates from vinyl found in some toys, which are known to cause lung, kidney, liver, and reproductive organ damage.

Risk to the Environment
Plastic toys, especially the cheap ones, pose a great risk to the environment. Since they are not recyclable, they go into landfills and may take years to degrade.
Plastic Vs. Wooden: What to Buy
Although plastic toys may seem stimulating and fun to a parent, it is important to consider the safety of your child as well. Children play with simple things, and most of the plastic gadgets do not really interest them. Simple wooden toys, such as construction sets, shape sorters, and wooden trains, would hold as much appeal as their plastic counterparts. Check out some amazing wooden toys by popular brands such as Melissa & Doug, PlanToys, Maple Landmark, and HABA. However, if you are buying plastic toys, ensure that it is BPA-free and safe for the baby.