Hands up if you get overwhelmed with the amount of 'stuff' that seems to go along with being the owner of small humans. I know I do.
Brash, plastic toys that can only be played with in one way are outgrown within a matter of months. So now my boys are a little older (4 and 6) I wanted to share some of the best toys that we invested in when they were younger that STILL get played with. And be reassured, this is a tat free zone.
1. Grimms Rainbow
Made from a single block of lime wood and naturally stained with non-toxic colour, this large rainbow offers endless opportunities for creative, open ended play. Let your little ones use their imagination to come up with ball runs, towers and a thousand other games. Team with some of the chunky Grimms balls and some Nins and you're all set. Grimms Large Rainbow, £67.50 from Babipur
2. Big BlocksWith wooden blocks, the creative possibilities are endless! Kids can make castles, forts, farms and rockets out of chunky blocks. We have the Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Blocks which aren't cheap but they are beautifully made and provide hours of entertainment.
There are a few different types of these magnetic tiles but we've found Magnatiles to be excellent. A favourite in Montessori education, these translucent pieces snap together to create anything your little one can imagine. Really worth the money as they will last a lifetime and provide hours of entertainment.
Available from Amazon.com, starter packs start from around £40.
4. Brio Train Track
A childhood arguably wouldn't be complete without some sturdy wooden train track and in our experience Brio is the best quality, although this is reflected in the price. I enjoy making it as much as the kids so this is a great choice for family play. If your budget doesn't stretch to Brio, Bigjigs is also pretty good and Brio compatible. Stocked at most toy shops and online.
Now you may notice something about my choices above - they are all open ended toys. They foster imaginative play and creativity, which is so important in the early years.
And a note about plastic...
The other thing I wanted to mention was that I love wooden toys but I do feel plastic still has a place, which is reflected in my choices of Mobilo and Magnatiles above.
As a household and family, we are trying to reduce our use of plastic (particularly single use plastics) but beyond that, we are trying to consume less. We are trying to buy less, ethical and better quality across not just toys but food, clothes and other household items. Plastic is an incredible material when used in good quality toys that will last years and be passed through generations. Not cheap plastic tat that clogs up your house and will be broken and ready for the bin in a matter of weeks.