Ok so first I have to say I love love love wooden toys. I think they last longer are better developmentally and just plain look nicer. I’d rather have only wooden toys over only plastic any day.
That being said not all wooden toys are equal. With all the recalls going on parents have to pay close attention and some have jumped on the band wagon of wood is better/ always safe. Well in my opinion wood is better, but not necessarily safe.
You have to know what kind of wood, where it is made and who makes it. If the company is not forthright about this PASS. Please note this does not include homemade toys. Most of those are awesome, but often need to ask rather than printed on ‘label.’
You can also just tell the difference in quality. I have an awesome stacking train, not sure who made it, but quality. I received a walmart brand stacking train for Christmas. I rotated the two because we wanted to honor the giver. The walmart one broke pretty quickly while the other…well I think it will last us though our grand kids.
Melissa and Doug is a company most people think to buy from, I’m not a big fan any more. They used to be awesome. The best example I have is two sound puzzles I owned, one was like 1/2 inch thick and made in Thailand the ‘newer’ one was 1/4 inch thick and made in china. I have puzzles that used to be painted and now are ‘stickers.’ Number one reason I don’t like them in November of 2009 three toys were recalled in Canada for high levels of barium. These same toys were not recalled in USA, because they were different? NO because US doesn’t have same standards. So Canadian children get to play with safer toys because M&D didn’t feel the need to protect US kids as well. I think it says something about a company when they only follow ‘law’ to protect kids.
I will say, though, that barium is not usually found so high in their toys, so its not like they are constantly putting out unsafe toys. AND their customer service is excellent.
Walmart sells wooden toys and so does target…honestly pass on these no name brands as you don’t know who is making them, but unpainted should be safe.
My favorite toy brands are Plan Toys, and Haba (wooden only.) Plus, Plan Toys has the best customer service ever. I have purchased more of their toys based on their quality, but also on knowing if I have a problem they will replace fix whatever with no hassle because they stand by their products. There are many other wonderful brands out there. These are just the ones readily available on Amazon. A couple of great sites for safe toys.
http://www.novanatural.com/ (I seriously drool over their catalog)
www.etsy.com (for homemade stuff)
But if your handy/ know someone who is many of these toys can be made by you! for much much less. Hopefully I’ll have further posts about just that!