Have you been to a toddler’s birthday party recently? Have you been there to watch the birthday boy or girl open the presents? (Ok…let’s face it…often it’s the parents opening the presents. But I digress…) If so, you have probably seen them.
The bright, talking, light up, toys that move and sing. “Activity tables” and “books” and pull toys…even stacking toys, rattles, teethers, and balls….all that are hard, plastic, and make noise.
Yes, even the teethers are “educational.” Aren’t teethers supposed to, like, sooth the gums?
And the balls, they can’t just sell a red, rubber ball that bounces. No, the ball must “teach” letters and numbers by making noise.
Yes, these “educational toys” have claims plastered on their packaging like…
- “Encourages your toddler’s play, thinking, and learning!”
- “Teaches your toddler letters, numbers, shapes, and colors!”
- “Teaches shapes, common objects,and feelings!”
- “Teaches toddlers letters, numbers, colors, songs, stories, and more!”
- “Teaches while your little one is on the move!”
- “Light-up buttons provide engaging rewards!”
- “Teaches nursery rhymes and songs!”
- “Teaches your infant how to cook, clean, dress themselves, AND how to pee in the potty!”**
(**Ok, ok…so maybe they don’t get that crazy….yet).
Nothing could have prepared me for the influx of “educational toys” we would receive at my own children’s birthday parties.
Everything needed batteries. Everything made noise.
There is one specific toy that my daughter got for her first birthday (ok, a couple actually) that made me really step back and think about what “toys” are for. One was this Monkey Ride on toy thing…that made annoying noise and sang…and there was something about rowing the arms and catching bananas? See, I can’t even remember the point of it, because there was no point to it! My daughter tried a couple times, but it made no sense to her either. It quickly got donated.
I noticed that pretty much all the toys by a certain manufacturer that claimed all their toys were “learning” toys and “educational” were also the ugliest, brightest, loudest, and hardest.
And quite frankly, they taught my one year old absolutely nothing except that if she pushed that button, the toy produced noise.
I started thinking….what does my toddler really need to learn right now, anyway? And how would she learn anything from toys that just lit up and sang?
You see…a toddler does not need to know numbers, letters, or shapes. A toddler needs to work on learning how to walk, run, slide, crawl through tunnels, climb, dig in the sand, swing, communicate needs and wants, say new words, sing songs and nursery rhymes, follow simple directions, laugh, love, eat with a spoon, play peek-a-boo, stack blocks, throw a ball, drink from an open cup, pretend to talk on the phone, push around a toy grocery cart and “shop,” basic concepts like big, small, up, down, in & out; listen to books, “read” books, walk up and down stairs, name body parts, point to objects and people in books, play in water, make animal sounds, finger paint, explore his world, ask questions, do the hokey pokey…
A toddler doesn’t need toys that light up and make noise.These toys do not teach anything except a little cause-and effect. In fact, all toddlers just need a few things to learn the things above…
- Family that loves them
- Family that plays with them
- Family that talks to them
- Family that reads to them
- Diapers, clothes, warm bed, and roof above their heads
- Food in their tummies
- Some simple, non-noise-making toys (most or all of which you can get at second hand stores…for some suggestions check out my post on toys HERE) and/or simple and free household items like cardboard boxes of different sizes; plastic cups, bowls, and spoons; old gift bags with handles (my kids LOVE putting random things in these!); baskets; paper, crayons, paints (you can make paints too!); etc.
- Books (Library is FREE! And quiet…)
- Trips to local parks and/or access to outdoor areas that are safe to play in
Notice none of the above require batteries.
Toddlers require love, kisses, and attention. Not batteries.
So…next time you are in the toy department, skip over that aisle (you know the one I’m talking about…) and pick up some finger paints and a sand bucket instead. Or maybe some bubbles and a… gasp… plain rubber ball!
As for some of those toys that seem pretty cool but yet still make noise (Like the Little People Farm)? Do what I do, and take out the batteries.