Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Global Allure and Educational Benefits of Wooden Toys

Wooden Toys from Finland
Wooden toys have been popular in the U.S. for generations, so I was interested to see that wood toys are also popular in other parts of the world also.  On a recent trip to Dublin, Ireland, I saw toys made of wood in the shop windows of children’s stores.  The German firm, Haba Toys, is recognized throughout the world for their handcrafted wooden toys.  And, in Helsinki, Finland, I took these photos of children's toys at Stockman's Department Store.

Wood Toys from Finland
So what makes these kid's toys so desirable?  The attributes are numerous and include:

Durability – Generation after generation of children can play with wood toys as they stand the test of time and rigorous play.

Melissa and Doug Wood Puzzle
Safety – Plastic toys have been found to include toxic chemicals such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Phthalates, or Bisphenol A (BPA). These toys can also break into small pieces that can be potentially harmful. Children's toys made of thick wood may be less likely to break into small pieces - but watch for toys with thin pieces of wood.  In addition, some plastic kid's toys have sharper edges.  

Motor Skill Development – Most wooden toys, including wood puzzles, require the use of fine motor skills.  Thus, playing with these toys can enhance dexterity and eye-hand coordination.  

Self-Correcting Wooden Puzzle for Preschoolers

Educational BenefitsBuilding blocks and other wood toys can help children develop spatial concepts as well as concepts such as size, shape and color.  Academic skills, problem-solving and puzzle skills may also be practiced through play.

Creative Toys and Imagination – Wood blocks are often excellent choices for stimulating creativity and imagination as they are open-ended and unstructured, allowing children freedom to experiment and explore. 

While these are all reasons for the global appeal of wooden toys, the biggest is likely that they are fun for children and kids develop fond memories playing with them.  Then, as adults, these happy childhood memories return as they choose birthday presents or holiday gifts for their children or watch grandchildren play with wood toys that have been in the family for generations.  

To view wooden toys available on our website, visit  Wood puzzles can be found at

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Select a Great Baby Toy

Sassy Loopy Ball
Sooner or later, it happens to you.  You’re invited to a baby shower.  Someone you know has a baby and you want to send a baby gift.  Or, you have your own baby or grandchild!  While the list of baby supplies is long and the potential baby shower gifts are numerous, we know you want the right baby toy.  What is the right baby toy?  There is no single answer to this question, but JumpStart(TM) Toys has these helpful tips for selecting a great terrific children’s toy:

Consider Versatile Baby Toys – Review toys that have multiple ways the toy can be played, can grow with the baby, or can be affixed to cribs, strollers, and car seats.  Sassy Baby has some excellent choices.

Contemplate Award-winningToys – Kid's Toys that have been reviewed and recognized with awards are a good way to narrow down the huge list of potential baby gifts.  Often, award-winning toys have been reviewed by parents or toy industry professionals and are developmental baby toys that provide good value for the money.  You can’t go wrong with an award-winning children’s toy.

Gund Crawl with Me Turtle
Shop for Multi-Sensory Toys – Toys that appeal to the senses are popular baby shower gifts, and if chosen wisely, can promote development.  Look for infant toys with more than one texture, that talk or make sounds, or contain bright and contrasting colors for sensory and vision development as well as holding baby’s interest.   

Select Cuddle Toys – Many best-selling baby toys are snuggle toys, and it’s great for children to have a special toy, pillow or blanket to take along with them everywhere.  Soft and cuddly toys may also provide a sense of security and promote emotional well-being in addition to being adorable presents!

Gund Philbin Bear
Go for the StuffedAnimals – Children are fascinated by animals, and you can’t go wrong with a wonderful stuffed teddy bear or other infant animal plush toy.  Stuffed animals are common presents, though, so look for one that is either unusual, has developmental benefits or is so cute that you just can’t resist it!

Regardless of the infant toy you choose, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Make sure the toy does not have small parts, ribbons, buttons or anything that can come off as babies suck, pull and drag it with them.  Check for choking hazard warnings.
  • Be certain to remove all packaging, including plastic anti-theft fasteners or other packing items with which the child could be hurt.
  • Check packaging to ensure the present selected is age and developmentally appropriate.
To browse our kids learning toys, visit