The Case of Toys

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A 20th-century celebrity, an advice columnist Abigail Van Buren once said: “If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them as half as much money.”

The first step is to stop thinking in terms of your childhood.

For example, you had the abundance of toys and you want the same treatment for your child. Think twice and read on.

The same goes for those less fortunate who now want to (over)compensate for their lack of material stuff. Yet, toys cannot replace love and affection.

If you ask a kid, they’d always want more. But catering to their wants will for sure spoil the child. On the other hand, catering to their needs runs deeper. Eventually, your child will grow grounded and confident.

Plan in advance

It’s advisable to start thinking about toys in pregnancy.

Think about what type of parenting you incline toward (attachment, traditional or other).

Then imagine what type of play you are about to make room for- will you read to your child from day one? Will you play music CDs? Will you prefer wooden toys to plastic ones? Will you allow electronic devices or are you wary of them?

Some people opt for a nanny early on. The process of finding the right person is stressful itself, taking up all of your energy. You don’t have time to think about play and entertainment.

There are a few options to minimize the stress though- agree with your closest friends to help you search or put up a list of what you look for in a nanny.

Another option is to hire a childcare professional. There are a lot of reputable agencies which offer premiere childcare, such as the UK/ London governess agency. This agency makes sure you are satisfied and more importantly, safe with your choice. And we know how much the inner peace costs- oftentimes it’s priceless.

Toys or People?

The more humans engage with the kids, the better for them.

Toys that have a lot of buttons, change colors and sing will definitely catch your baby’s attention. But in the long run, it’s not the best idea.

Such toys are fast, flashy and noisy, and your child’s brain is small and not accustomed to that, but it gets addicted to the stimuli.

Soon, the baby will need a lot of this, because habits form quickly. And it’s bad for the brain’s development.

Another thing, you’ll have to buy all the toys in a department store with the same characteristics, just a different shape, because the baby will want more of that.

Is there enough storage space in your house for 5 push toys that look the same?

So here are a few hints for how to choose toys.

Variety and moderation are the key spices

This is how it goes- your child gets a toy (be it a plush toy, a truck, a doll, or a book) and they’re thrilled. Fun time- yay! How long their joy and interest lingers may vary.

It usually depends on their age, combined with their temperament, mood, the level of exposure to electronic devices (the less their brain is accustomed to fast input, the better the chances for them to learn to play with the “slow” toys) and the toy itself.

Anyway, let’s presume they love that horsey and are happy to spend time with it. Or the farm sound book. They press the buttons happily, imitate sounds, smile, laugh, and read it over and over again.

This is when you think- oh maybe I should get them another book or toy from the same series- if they played eagerly with the brown horse, they must be head over heels for a yellow one with a longer mane.

While there’s nothing wrong with having lots of books (au contraire!), be careful not to buy all of them at once or in a shorter period, because this is the quickest way to make them lose interest in all of them.

The more toys- the less creative a child

Toys hinder creativity. According to the study in “Infant Behaviour and Development” at the University of Toledo, US, if you give a kid 16 toys, they will play with about half of them. But if you give them 4, they will play with 3! And it’s not only about the quantity, it’s about the quality of play. Also, they played longer when they had fewer toys.

If your child plays just with the toys with their obvious purpose- e.g. a toy kitchen, it may cripple their creativity. Instead, try including your kid in real-life, age-appropriate activities in your kitchen.

For instance, you chop the pepper and let your kid place it in a casserole. Or if you have more time, pour different edible colors in an ice container and freeze it. Then let the kid have fun. This is also a good way to help them learn important life skills.

The most creative toys are the ones that don’t have the “shape”- like blocks. Or crayons, paper,  dough, etc. Your child is free to make their castle, house, train, etc. The aim is to make them think and express creatively.

Attention! There goes their attention!

The more toys, the shorter the attention span. As a parent of an ADHD kid has put it: “An uncluttered environment begets an uncluttered mind”, which is a far cry from cool, calm and collected you are striving for.

Ecology

We have to consider ecology and our environment as well. If a toy is used for months, and then is handed-down, cool- it’s not a waste. But toys of a lesser quality that break easily and cannot be up-cycled are a plain waste.

Please have in mind that we need to leave this planet for our kids. They may want another doll or a car, but do they really need them?

Conclusion

All in all, a free, unstructured play is the holy grail of a thriving child. Take them out for a hike, put them in a sandpit, encourage them to climb and slide, read along with them, every day. Toys will be in the picture, but not as much. They won’t replace the child’s need for connection with other humans, both adults and kids.

A lot of toys will just confuse them and shorten their natural short attention span and hinder imagination. Do you want that?

AuthorBio: Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londongoverness.com. She recruits nannies, governesses and other childcare professionals, ensuring top-notch services for parents worldwide. In her free time she likes reading about education, and children’s welfare, as well as visiting sports events.