When it comes to toy stores, we have the usual suspects of Toys R Us, Hamley’s or Lego. BUT, if you came here looking for a toy store list that’s a little less mass or mainstream, you’ve come to the right place! Stick around as we take you through some bespoke, handmade, and mom-curated stores that encourage open-ended play – some of which come highly recommended by the mums in team Zafigo.
There are no rules to open-ended toys, which encourage children to create based on their imaginations. These toys help kids develop confidence in making their own decisions while playing and, at the same time, become curious little learners. Open-ended toys also create significant opportunities for the little ones to practice social skills like sharing and being considerate of their friend’s emotions when they play with others!
1. Kids De World
Kids de World has created a toy paradise for children — here, you’ll find toys that are safe, educational, durable, trendy, and fosters family bonds. They make sure the toys they stock pass these criteria before any product makes its way onto their website.
We love the wooden toys from Bumbu Toys and Ocamora in particular, not only because they’re beautiful but also because they’re coated in non-toxic vibrant paints that bring them to life. Of course, there are many other unique brands Kids de World carries that you should definitely check out too!
‘El Oso’ in Spanish means bear, and the mama bears at Eloso have handpicked meaningful toys for you modern moms lovingly. Among the carefully selected pieces are vibrant or pastel-coloured building blocks in many shapes and sizes, encouraging kids’ creativity with open-ended play. You’ll also find Montessori-style toys that help babies learn about object permanence while training their hand-eye coordination.
3. Teeny Hands
Okay, we promise we’ll move on from wooden blocks after this, but we absolutely cannot resist these beautiful pieces from Teeny Hands! The husband-and-wife duo behind the brand Yinghou and Keatmei are here to empower parents to nurture happy children. They believe that happier children make the world a better place.
Teeny Hands’ wooden pieces are coloured in non-toxic paint, and their cute wooden animal series is hand-carved individually! The best part of all, we find the prices extremely affordable for the quality and natural durability of the toys.
4. Whimsy Woo
As promised, this one’s a little different from the rest. Whimsy Woo brings you true to (kid’s) life-size play kits that’ll boost your child’s pretend play to the next level. The play sets available are the Marketplace Set, Kitchen Set, Retro Kitchen Set, Carpenter Set, and Barbeque Grill Set.
Another piece worthy of mention is Whimsy Woo’s Wooden Walker. This is excellent for babies who are learning their first steps. Besides being a walker, it also features nine activities that babies can play with when they’re not walking. Now, that makes it a multifunctional 10-in-1 mega toy!
5. Our Play Diary
Our Play Diary creates made-to-order sensory play materials. Sensory play is another vital part of open-ended play for kids, allowing them to explore the world through different textures. On their Shopee store, you’ll find colourful pasta, rice, beans, ‘sand’, slime, and play dough — all lovingly made using non-toxic ingredients.
The creative play process with these versatile materials is endless! You’ll find that these seemingly boring materials (to us adults) are wonderful for kids to engage in Small World Play, creating their own worlds and new experiences. For slime enthusiasts, follow Our Play Diary’s Instagram for weekly updates on Slime DIY workshops at Noriter Café, Plaza Arkadia.
6. Messy Play Don’t Care
Yes, we know it’s a pain to clean up after your kid’s mess, but the thing is, they learn and grow from doing just that! And that’s where Messy Play Don’t Care’s Messy Play Kits come in. Their kits comprise all kinds of sensory play items, with our favourite being ‘The Rare Kind Messy Play Kit’.
This kit brings the little ones on an adventure in discovering Malaysia’s endangered animals. Children love animals, and this messy play kit will help your child understand the animal world a little more than they did before, all through play!
7. Belle’s Wonderland
While Belle’s Wonderland isn’t a toy-focused store, they have a significant toy collection. There are even food-grade silicone squish/press toys and teethers for the babies. If you’re looking for a construction play toy but unsure about Lego or wood blocks, Connetix might be what you’re looking for instead. It comprises magnetic tile pieces of different shapes, with endless play possibilities!
Discover silicone colouring mats, temporary tattoos, and wooden toys on their website too. Besides toys, Belle’s Wonderland also has a great selection of children’s books and some helpful parenting books.
8. Bubs & Friends
This humble business sources a unique selection of toys. Among those that captured our interest are the pieces from Guidecraft, Olli Ella, and Poppik. Guidecraft’s wooden blocks encourage open-ended play for sure, but we especially love the Treasure Blocks and Treasure Tubes. It’s a great way for kids to collect and observe items, creating a whole sensory experience. Secondly, the quaint Olli Ella range of rattan baskets and Dinkum dolls are made using non-toxic, sustainable materials, perfect for your child’s pretend play needs.
Last, but not least, is Poppik. While Poppik isn’t exactly an open-ended toy, its main play component is stickers. And we all know how much kids LOVE stickers. Instead of sticking without an aim, these giant posters come with numbered codes and interesting information to learn! After all the stickers are in place, they can be hung up as a piece of artwork.