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It's much easier to buy non-plastic toys for very young children, I've found. Nova Naturals is great for the wooden and fabric, simple toys. Lots of Waldorf stuff. It looks like there may be some plastic wheels on some of the toy vehicles, but a great majority are all natural materials. From the few times I ordered from them, I do remember getting a plastic bag around some of the things, but I think they would be receptive to omitting the plastic. Bigger kids are tougher. It seems like the best way to go is resale. Books, musical instruments, German board games (wood and cardboard, although the pieces sometimes still come in a little plastic bag), colored pencils. When you get to “toys,” it seems like everything is plastic. So far my son hasn't succumbed to the peer pressure of asking for specific toys, but kindergarten starts in a couple of weeks so we'll see how that goes.
Hmm. I do not yet have a favorite non-plastic toy company…I'm getting in on this thread to hopefully find some. Working as a nanny, I have been astounded at how much time the kids' toys spend in their mouths. When it comes to their wooden toys, many of them have chipped paint, and I wonder if the paint on them is safe for little mouths to chew. Compared to toxic paint and splinters, chewing on plastic almost doesn't seem so bad!
I have had a lot of success finding wooden toys for my nieces and nephews here: http://www.moolka.com/pub/main/index.jsp
I haven't ordered anything in awhile, so I can't remember if they come in plastic packaging or not, but I do know that the Haba brand wooden toys I have ordered in the past have been fantastic–they are really great quality and seem like something that will last and can be passed down between generations.
In the SF Bay Area, the Arc toy store always seems to have very nice hardwood toys for young kids (although they have a lot of “traditional” stuff too). A lot more of those products have become available in the last half a dozen years (since I've been paying attention).
We ordered these great “fort-building clips,” made of wood and rubber bands from The Wooden Wagon. If I recall correctly, they came “naked” (no wrapping) and nestled in crumpled paper. I don't remember what kind of tape was on the box. I think they have a nice selection of toys, many I would love to have for my kids.
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