As an Interior Designer, with a particular aesthetic, I know how hard it can be to find attractive and functional toys. As a mom, I wanted my kids to have really great, stimulating baby toys, that are not made of plastic. I also didn’t want my house filled with colored plastic clutter. Babies come with so much gear anyway, and when you add toys in the mix the volume can be overwhelming. Not to mention all the visual chaos! It’s overstimulating at best.

When I was making my baby registry, before I had my first child, I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of ugly toys. I tend to be a bit of a minimalist by nature, and I love a clean, neutral look at home. I wanted to focus on toys that are not plastic. But where could I find high quality, visually appealing toys that would still provide the necessary stimulation for my kids’ development?

I hit the internet, and I found some great hidden gems.

Uncle Goose Wood Blocks

First, I found this great small business, Uncle Goose, that makes traditional wood blocks. More than just traditional ABC blocks though, they have many different sets including numbers, letters, phases of the moon, the solar system, flowers, bugs, animals, Japanese characters and more! These are still favorites with my kids, and we have multiple sets. They have been in use since my first baby started crawling, and my 7 and 4 year olds still like to stack and build with them. Instead of plastic, they are made of wood and non-toxic paint, these blocks are safe for all ages.

Manhattan Toy Playdate Friends 14 Inch Doll with Companion Stuffed Animal

Another small business that makes high quality, educational toys that my kids absolutely love is Manhattan Toy. Playdate Friends plush doll collection is beautifully crafted and inclusive. Each doll, outfit, and animal companion is machine washable and dryer safe. These are great for all ages, and no doubt good for years of play. Check out Manhattan Toy for more high-quality, educational toys for babies and kids.

Manhattan Toy Musical Llama Wooden Instrument for Toddlers

This wooden musical toy is equal parts adorable and stimulating. Your little can experience auditory stimulation while learning cause and effect and develop their motor skills. The toy is completely non-toxic. Made of wood with a water-based finish, its safe for tasting. Llama includes a 5-bar xylophone, removable maraca tail, washboard, clacking saddle blankets and wooden mallets, this early musical toy is a self-contained ensemble. Suitable for 1 year and up.

Montessori Shape And Color Recognition Matching Puzzle Stacker

Coogam Montessori style, sorting, stacking blocks are great for toddlers to learn their colors, shapes and work on fine motor skills. Wooden blocks are durable, non-toxic and smooth. These blocks were a favorite for my little guys. My littlest, just recently graduated to slightly more intricate toys, so these were a good investment for a few years of educational playl

Personally, I love Montessori toys, and my kids really did enjoy them. Both of my boys went to a Montessori preschool (littlest is still attending) and they really like having some of the same things to work on at home, that they enjoy at school. Safe for toddlers 1 year an up.

Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether

My babies both loved this brightly colored, wooden teether. It’s great for development of gross motor skills and sensory stimulation. The wooden beads slide along the dowels and the elastic bands make the whole thing fun to grasp and squish. Made of wood with a water based finish, it’s completely non-toxic, smooth and safe for babies. This is a great shower gift

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