How To Choose Non-Toxic Wooden Toys

Wooden toys aren’t always created equal. Green Living expert, Aida Garcia-Toledo talks about how to identify non-toxic, solid wooden toys that are safe for your tot.

Wooden toys can be eco-friendly, stylish, durable and fun to play with. Most eco-conscious parents choose wooden toys because of these characteristics, confident that they will not expose their kids to any of the potentially harmful chemicals that plastic toys can.

However, not all wooden toys are up to standard. Some can actually expose your children to harmful chemicals including formaldehyde, lead and arsenic, amongst others.

Before you buy your next wooden toy ask the following questions:

  1. Is it made from real, solid wood or something else?

Solid Wood such as maple, walnut and alder woods from FSC certified forests will always be the safest option, especially for babies. However, to the surprise of many, some supposedly wooden toys are not actually made from 100% solid wood.

If a toy isn’t made of solid wood then it’s made of composite wood like press wood, plywood and MDF. The problem with composite wood is that it require adhesives, which often contain toxic chemicals, to bind the pieces of wood together.  The most common glues used on composite woods contain formaldehyde; a known carcinogen. These toys will thus emit formaldehyde into the air our children are breathing – and no parent wants their child breathing in a known carcinogen every day.

If the toy you are considering is made of composite wood then contact the manufacturer and ask if they use formaldehyde-free glues (these do exist and are a much safer option).

  1. Is the wood (solid or other) painted?

Kids love bright colors, but many paints used on wooden toys can contain heavy metals like lead and arsenic which can be harmful to a baby or young child’s neural development.

If the label does not specify what type of paint is used, confirm it with the manufacturer. Look for water or vegetable-based paint and/or food grade dyes.

  1. Is the wood treated, finished or sealed?

Many wooden toy manufacturers will treat their wooden toys to protect the wood, allowing it to last longer, look shinier etc.

For safer wood finishes opt for toys that use food-grade plant-based oils like beeswax  and  jojoba oil instead of polyurethane lacquers.

  1. Who will be using the toy?

Determining who the toy is for should help to influence your purchasing decision. For infants and teething babies, the ideal choice is always untreated, completely natural solid wood.

For older children, who have usually outgrown placing toys in their mouth, both solid wood and composite wood toys can be safe – just make sure that you’ve done your homework and confirmed that the wood uses formaldehyde-free adhesives and non-toxic wood finishes and paints.

Some of Our Favorite Wooden Toys on The Tot

Little Sapling Toys Wooden Heart Teether + Wooden Mailbox

LittleSaplingToysTeetherHeart1   LittleSaplingToysWoodenMailbox1-600x600


The Wooden Wagon Bird Tree Puzzle + All in one Doll House 

WoodenWagonBirdTreePuzzle1-600x600  WoodenWagonAllInOneDollHouseNatural1-600x600


Keiki Toys Wooden Truck + Push & Pull Elephant



ToBe Wooden Polar Bear + Asymmetrical Arches


ToBeWoodenAnimalPolarBear-600x600  ToBeRainbowArches1-600x600


Goki Wooden Picture book  + Wooden Dump Truck

GokiWoodenBookCircus2-600x600   GokiDumpTruck2

Milton and Goose Essential Play Kitchen