One of the aspirations I know that I share with so many of my fellow Mamas is to have a toybox full of well-made toys (made from sustainably sourced materials) that encourage hands-on play and learning. I love the idea of Alba playing with similar toys as I did when I was growing up, and for her to have toys in her toybox that will last for years (and maybe even generations!) to come.
One thing I’ve discovered when it comes to giving Alba baby toys to play with is that less is definitely more. When she has lots of toys all around her she sometimes seems overwhelmed and will flit from one to the next, quickly becoming distracted. However, giving her just one or two toys at a time that enable creative, open-ended play seems to suit her well, and she will amuse herself for long periods playing with something simple like blocks, or cups.
With this in mind, I was absolutely thrilled to find Jaques of London. They have 225 years’ experience in making traditional toys and games for babies and toddlers, and their products tick all of my boxes. We chose to try their Shape Sorter and Wooden Noah’s Ark and from the moment our package arrived I was bowled over by the quality and service, and I’m so excited to be able to share them with you.
I remember fondly having shape sorter toys as a child myself, and the absolute joy of being able to slide colourful shapes through the slots. I think there’s such magic in being able to share that with your own children and seeing the pleasure they gain from it. The Shape Sorter Toy is a lightweight but sturdy cart with a pull-along string and brightly coloured shapes contained inside. In terms of my aspiration to find toys that are as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible, I was reassured to see that the shapes and cart are made of 100% FSC approved wood and the bold colours are created using water-based paint. I’m really interested in the concept of the Montessori Method – an approach to child development that focusses on hands-on, multi-sensory play and learning. Montessori friendly toys typically are made from natural materials that babies and children can explore and manipulate themselves (so no flashing lights and sounds!), that are realistic and have a purpose. Wooden blocks are a Montessori staple as they provide so many opportunities for creative play and different ways to enjoy them. One thing that can sometimes put people off the idea of buying sustainable, high quality wooden toys is the price point, so I couldn’t believe it when I saw that this beautiful shape sorter cart is only £11.99*. (And read to the end for a discount code!)
The other toy we tried from Jaques of London is their Wooden Noah’s Ark (£16.99*). Again, it feels so well-made and crafted and really would make the perfect gift for a new baby or a young child’s birthday. The Noah’s Ark toy features sets of two wooden animals (which ticks the ‘realistic play’ boxes – no unicorns here!) with a fold-down wooden bridge and slots for pushing the animals into the ark. Alba immediately gravitated towards the bridge and was loving opening it and closing it and placing the animals into the ark. She also loved handing me the animals and having them passed back to her – she really did play alone for such long periods with both of these toys and you can see her imagination running wild.
I mentioned that I think their toys make great gifts, and that’s not only due to the well-made and beautiful craftmanship but also the personal touches – each toy came beautifully wrapped and packaged with a bow, as well as a hand written note inside from the person who packed it. It really is the personal touches, and you can see how Jaques of London have stood the test of time as a business (they are the oldest games company and sports manufacturer in the world!) They are perfect for babies but also children as they grow – if you’re searching for toys for 2 year olds you’ll find lovely items such as wooden construction benches and Snakes and Ladders games. I can honestly say I’ll be buying so much more from their website – both for Alba and as presents for my friends’ children.
What are your favourite wooden or Montessori-inspired toys?
PS – You can sign-up here for 15% off all of their products!