When we made the first Tough Love Teethers, I had no idea the worlds it would open up for us. We really just made them on a whim as a way to avoid plastics in one small area of our lives and the more I’ve learned, the happier I am that we are choosing to give our children more toys made with natural materials and less toys made of toxic, manufactured plastics. Here’s why I love wooden toys:
They’re like zombies– Wooden toys live forever- they’re so durable! Shoot em in the head and they’ll just turn into some even more badass toy out to get you. I’ll bet you’ve got some piece of furniture, some cuckoo clock, a hope chest, model car, or some other wooden hand me down from your grandparents or even their parents somewhere in your home (Ok, I won’t really bet you because a.) that’s illegal and b.) I hate to lose, but you get me). And if you do, you love and cherish it, right! That’s because they last- they last long past their novelty. Plastic toys are cheap- both in price and quality. They break and when they do, we throw them out. Wooden toys we pass down- from child to child, family to family, generation to generation. Several people have told me when their child is done with their Tough Love Teether, they’re going to turn it into a wall hanging or a Christmas Tree ornament- these suckers last. Tell me you do that with your my little pony and I will laugh- hard.
They’ll save you a buttload- Plastic toys, made mainly in China, are cheaper to buy up front- we’ve got lots cheap crappy toys lying around that I’m constantly picking up & donating. But cheap plastic toys break often and have to be replaced, so that inexpensive toy ends up costing you a lot of headache and money in replacement costs. A wooden toy can literally last a lifetime- they can be transformed throughout a childhood to be used for different purposes to get more than your money’s worth. Not to mention where your money is going- I’d much rather support some local artisan or small business person proudly making toys than a huge conglomerate underpaying workers around the world to mass produce toys they don’t love.
It’s hip to be green- When we’re finally done loving wooden toys, they go right back to the earth. They are made of trees and usually not much else and they will bio-degrade right back into the earth from whence they came. Because most plastic toys contain a variety of types of plastics as well as metal, once they break or lose our interest, they can’t even be recycled. They stay around FOREVER- floating in our oceans, filling up our landfills and taking a shit all over the planet we are passing onto these beautiful children we gifted with them. Wood is sustainable- we can grow more and it’s good for our planet to grow more, we can re-use wooden toys over and over and they’ll break down into our soil when we are done using them. Wooden toys are totally green and we love that!
They fatten those little brains up for good zombie eats- It’s good for children’s brains to manipulate common objects and use their creativity to make them into whatever they need them to be for whatever it is they are playing. We don’t need to tell them what to think by supplying the characters, the storylines, the clothes, heck even the voices to tell them how to play. We can give them simple toys and let their little brains fill in the details that they think would work best with what they are playing. By giving children objects that are not highly formed and detailed, they can easily become more than one thing, and give children’s imaginations free reign. Wooden toys and Waldorf Toys, in particular, allow children more flexibility in their play so they are not stuck by the pre-manufactured colors, characters and conversations adults make for them. And let’s face it- those plastic toys with all the bells, buttons and whistles are annoying!
Kids are F*@&)%*ing dirty- And wooden toys stay cleaner- really, they do! While wood is more porous than plastic, every time your little one bites, scratches or dents their plastic toy in some way, they create a rough surface that is almost impossible to fully clean. Bacteria loves to live in those little plastic cavities, but for some reason, the pores of wood are naturally antimicrobial- cool, right? So bite away on your wooden teethers, kids- In academic studies of wooden vs. plastic cutting boards, wood wins hands down. In a University of Wisconsin study by Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D of UC Davis, Scientists found that three minutes after contaminating a board that 99.9 percent of the bacteria on wooden boards had died, while none of the bacteria died on plastic. Bacterial numbers actually increased on plastic cutting boards held overnight at room temperature, but the scientists could not recover any bacteria from wooden boards treated the same way. With wood, there is no need for harsh chemical cleaners, instead your material is your anti-bacterial.
He’ll cut a bitch- How many times have we been told that a plastic or painted toy is safe, only to see it recalled or find out it has lead in the paint or plastic body or is unsafe for any number of other reasons? This holds especially true for very small children and babies. These little ones will be putting whatever they play with in their mouths, and plastics, painted toys and metals probably aren’t high on the list of things you want in your baby’s mouth. (Uncle Bob’s Workshop). When plastic toys break, which they do very easily, they become little shanks for your delinquents to get hurt on. Wooden toys are so tough and much more difficult for tiny prisoners to use a weapons. Finely sanded wooden toys are unlikely to splinter unless completely broken, and even if your little one can break that super tough wooden toy, if it’s made of a fine grained hardwood, such as maple (as our Tough Love Teethers are), even the splinters are unlikely to hurt them (but do remove any broken toys from your little one’s playing reach). That’s because the grain quickly heals itself and maple doesn’t flake like other woods such as ash.
Tiny Tree Huggers- Wooden toys aren’t just good for the environment, they’re good for the soul. They feel good- they connect us to something real, to the hard work behind them and the love that went into them. It’s like tree hugging child style! As Roland Barthes, wrote, plastic and metal are “graceless” and “chemical,” and argued that wood “is a familiar and poetic substance, which does not sever the child from close contact with the tree, the table, the floor. Wood does not wound or break down; it does not shatter, it wears out, it can last a long time,”(The New Yorker, 2013). “Imagine the sensory experience of a toddler cuddling a rigid, hard plastic doll with synthetic hair, and then cuddling a wooden doll, covered in cotton with a head of soft mohair. Not only is the (wooden) doll more aesthetically pleasing, but its softness and warmth will having a calming and soothing effect on a young child,” (Sarah Baldwin, Bella Luna Toys). People are often skeptical about wooden teething toys. They ask if kids like them. They are surprised how their babies take to this natural material. I’ve even heard stories of teething babies gnawing on furniture, wooden spoons and sticks- so give those little beavers what they want. They know what’s good for them!
So let your kids be kids and stop telling them how to play! Give them the best because we know you love them and you love the earth you brought them into. Down with plastics. You’re witnessing the rise of the wood! Check out our ever growing line of all natural Wooden Teething Toys here: