If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while you might have noticed I tend to pick wooden and natural toys for my children.
I will share the reasons of my love for these products here, plus some information on how to care for them.
I feel like we live in a throw-away society, where it’s normal that everything, toys and clothing included, gets thrown away.
Products aren’t made to last, replacing means having to buy something new, which ensures income for the producers.
Low-quality products are produced for low prices meaning the profit will be higher.
Donating instead of throwing something in the garbage doesn’t really help either as a huge part still ends up in the landfill after donating.
I try to invest in products that are ethically made. I’d like to know where the products are made, who made them, what chemicals are used, what is done to reduce the impact on the environment and so on.
Usually these products have higher costs, but I’d say it’s justified if you’re looking at all those aspects. There’s no way the people who worked on the product get a living wage when a shirt only costs 2euro. Spending the extra money on short-term makes you save money in the long term, as the toys are longer lasting and have a better resale value.
In August I visited the Ostheimer workshop in Germany. I’ve seen how many hands work on one toy, how they use all the leftovers (to heat the building) and how they make sure the toys are as safe and long lasting as they can be. They also employ many people who work from home (mothers) and integrate people with a disability in their workshop.
That’s the kind of company I like to invest in by buying their products. Ostheimer has a foundation which supports anthroposophical initiatives and institutions. It’s not about a single person (or a couple of managers) enriching themselves.
I’ll share some pictures of the production process at the end of this blog post!
What I love about wooden toys:
They have character
Every toy will look different when you look closely. The marks of the wood are visible in most toys, which makes them individual.
Wood is often heavier than other toys. Wood is pleasant to touch and toys are shaped to fit the hands of kids, but even adults like holding them.
We have these beautiful wooden pebbles that are just perfectly smooth and nice to hold.
These toys are made to last, but wooden toys are not unbreakable. They withstand quite a lot, but not everything. With the Ostheimer figures we have a few that broke at the tail or at other parts like the crown of one of the princesses. Ostheimer works hard to redesign the most vulnerable parts to avoid this, but the truth is: toys fall, get thrown, take hits and can break.
If you find the missing piece you can glue it back on, or just sand the edge to avoid kids getting hurt.
Open end play
Children use their imagination and something simple like the Grimms rainbow can be a bridge, a marble track, a swing or a shelter and much more. The same goes with many other wooden toys. The children need to create the sounds themselves as the toys are silent, that’s less annoying and more fun. 🙂
How to care for wooden toys
Avoid leaving them outside overnight or for a long period of time. Heat, temperature changes and humidity can affect the wood.
If necessary clean with a dry cloth. Depending on the finish you could clean it with a wet cloth, but never bath a toy. Avoid cleaning with aggressive products like harsh detergents or chemicals.
Ostheimer recommends cleaning with a dry cloth or brush and refinishing with linseed oil on a cloth.
Other websites suggest using beeswax finish. Never use furniture wax.
Enjoy the beautiful marks of the wood. It makes every piece one of a kind:
Production at Ostheimer
Wooden toy brands