The 9 Best Wooden Baby Toys of 2021

These playtime alternatives stand out in a sea of plastic

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Our Top Picks
Easy for little fingers to grasp, promoting fine motor skills.
Comes with 30 blocks, each featuring letters and numbers.
Comes with seven brightly colored rings and a round red ball.
Creating music teaches them cause-and-effect.
It’s simple in design, but mesmerizing for kids.
The 18 beads come in a variety of shapes and colors.
Made of untreated beechwood, which is naturally antibacterial.
They work with other Tegu block sets for even more possibilities.
They wobble, roll, and lend themselves to creative sensory play.

Best Overall: Manhattan Toy Skwish Natural Rattle and Teether

Manhattan Toy Skwish Natural Rattle

While it looks a lot like a scientific model of atoms and protons, this quirky looking little toy from Manhattan Toy is a fun time. A long-standing favorite of parents and children alike, the beads and dowels are made of solid wood and slide up and down the bands to make rattling sounds. It’s easy for little fingers to grasp and promotes important fine motor skills. It also works as a safe teether for sore little gums. 

Best Budget: Melissa & Doug Classic ABC Wooden Block Cart Educational Toy

These classic wooden blocks from Melissa & Doug are great for curious little learners. The set comes with 30 blocks, each featuring letters of the alphabet, numbers, and cute illustrations. They all fit neatly into a wheeled wooden box that can be pulled along with a string for on-the-go building.

The blocks are about 1.25 inches across, making them the perfect size for little fingers. Kids can use them stack, build, and develop early reading skills as they learn to identify letters and even start spelling words with time.

Best STEM: Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacker Wooden Ring Educational Toy

It’s never too early for kids to start building important STEM skills. This rainbow stacker from Melissa & Doug is a fun way to begin. Little ones can sort, stack, and get creative. The set comes with seven brightly-colored rings in various sizes and a round red ball that fits neatly on top of the pole, which is secured in a wooden base. 

It’s recommended for ages 18 months up, so it’s best for older babies, but parents say kids get years of use out of it. Some note that it’s smaller than expected, but most say it’s well-made, fun, and a great alternative to plastic stacking rings.

Best Musical: Hape Rainbow Pound and Tap Bench with Xylophone

Hape Pound and Tap Bench

This bright wooden xylophone from Hape puts a fun twist on playtime. Little ones can use the mallet to pound three colorful balls down through the holes where they land on the sloped xylophone for a musical ride down, or they can play the keys the traditional way. As they have fun creating music, they’re also building important fine motor skills, learning about cause-and-effect, and so much more. 

Best Gross Motor: Finn + Emma Wooden Baby Play Gym

To get kids reaching and moving, there’s this play gym from Finn+Emma. It’s simple in design but mesmerizing for kids. The frame is made of pure birch wood, and its height can be adjusted as they grow and change.

From the frame hang two sweet plush hand-knit animals as well as two wooden toys, all of which are removable for even more playing options. The materials in all of the pieces are safe and free from harmful chemicals including lead, phthalate, nickel, mercury, and more. It measures 19 x 24 inches and weighs just about 4 pounds, so it’s easy to tote from room to room.

Best Fine Motor: Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze

To help little fingers start grasping, pinching, and building those fine motor muscles, there’s this fun bead maze from Melissa & Doug. The18 beads come in a variety of shapes and colors, and they all slide and spin as little ones move them along the maze, which is made of soft-coated wire. 

Overall, parents give this toy high marks. Some note that the suction cups don’t stick very well to surfaces, such as a high chair tray, but most say it’s a well-made toy that little ones love.

Best Pretend Play: Mali Wear Natural Wooden Baby Teether Toys

Sweet and simple, this set of wooden forest animal toys stand out in a sea of plastic. Made of untreated beechwood, which is naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial, they can act as teethers but also lend themselves well to tons of pretend play. There's a bird, an elephant, an owl, and a little fawn, and they’re the perfect size to take along in the diaper bag and pull out for play on the go. 

Best Building: Tegu 24 Piece Magnetic Wooden Block Set

For tons of building fun, there are these magnetic wooden blocks from Tegu. Little creations get the extra support of magnets to keep them in place and take them to fun, new heights. They work with other Tegu block sets as well for even more building possibilities. Recommended for kids ages 12 months and older, kids of all ages love these blocks. They present opportunities for open-ended play with no need for batteries or electricity.

Best Sensory: Plan Toys Pastel Sensory Tumbling Toy

Plan Toys Pastel Sensory Tumbling Toy

Stimulate their senses with these sweet tumbling toys from Crate&kids. Three balls come in a set—a yellow one with a mirror, a blue one with a rattle, and a red one with a cotton filling. They wobble, roll, and lend themselves to all sorts of fun, creative, sensory play. Made of rubberwood, acrylic, and cotton fiber, they’re completely safe, and the only cleaning they need is occasional dusting with a soft cloth.

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