Thursday, November 22, 2012

Toy-Buying Guidelines

Happy Black Friday! Some of you have been up since yesterday morning, and are now suffering from a turkey hangover and stalking stores and websites for deals on Christmas gifts. That inspired me to write this post. (OK. That's a lie. This post has been in "draft" form for about a month. But, hey! What a convenient time to publish, right?)

Photo courtesy of markow76.
It's no secret that I am not a fan of toys. I've gotten a lot of flack and backhanded comments from family because of this. What I really mean is that I am not a fan of useless toys and I am not a fan of excessive toys. I prefer quality over quantity. There are certain toys that I approve (yes, because I am allowed to do that) for my child. Let me clarify.

-puzzles (Like this magnetic picture puzzle or this zoo animals block puzzle.)
-games (Like Letter Dice and Splodge Domino.)
-musical instruments (Real instruments, not plastic toys that are shaped like instruments and make a pre-programmed noise when you push a button; see BOTs)
-pretend play (This pirate ship is awesome! And I've always loved puppet theaters and play foods.)
-dress up (Super heroes, chefs, cowboys/cowgirls, knights and princesses.)
-blocks (Haba has a great selection of wooden blocks.)
-books (Especially Caldecott and Newberry Award winners and honorees along with the classics.)
-arts and crafts (modeling clay, stamps, crayons and paper, craft sets, etc.)

-characters/brands (Disney Princesses, Dora the Explorer, Baby Einstein, etc. I've seen over and over again, kids begging for things because they have their favorite character on them regardless of whether it's a doll, a pack of markers, or a roll of toilet paper.)
-gender limitations (Damn right I'm going to let my daughter play with cars. The same way I will let my son play with dolls.)
- plastic (Plastic, Made-in-China toys are generally not of the best quality, they're bulky, and they break easily.)
-BOTs [battery-operated toys] (These are toys with buttons, lights, and obnoxious sounds that are amusing for five minutes and then one of two things happens: the kid gets bored and the thing never sees the light of day, or the parent prays for the moment the batteries die and then lies to the kid that there is a worldwide shortage of AAs until the kid stops asking.)
-SCLANs (See this blog for an explanation of what SCLANs are and why you don't need them.)


  1. I agree with no useless or excessive toys. in my case, Toys seem like the easy thing for ppl to buy so thats what they go get instead of making sure thats what the child needs/wants.

    1. Toys are so easy! I know I have been guilty (pre-kiddo) of buying noisemakers and other things that I thought were "soooo cute" or worse (and I'm sure I'll get payback for this) because I knew it would annoy the parent. (Not in a malicious way, of course. I just thought it would be funny.)

  2. We totally don't do excessive toys...well I kind of feel like we already have an excess. LOL. I'm very picky about what toys we buy our kids. We do however buy action figures (we don't have a ton) for our boys. We found that they are great for pretend play for our 5 year old.
    We totally do the non gender limitation toys too. When my son was 2 he wanted a stroller for Christmas so I bought him a cheap doll stroller and I gave him one of my baby dolls from when I was little. He pushed that thing around til he was 4.

    1. Glad to hear about other parents who aren't afraid of breaking the gender barriers, especially when it comes to imaginative play!

  3. Love love love this! I've told many parents the same thing as a part of my job.

  4. When I was a child I hated dolls and played with action figures and toys horses. I could not imagine my mother taking them away from me. I am married with 2 beautiful children and because I played with boy toys did not turn me into a man nor did it make me grow into less of a woman.I think it really depends on the childs environment and other outer factors if they will turn into something else per se. Very interested in your opinion on why you are using gender limitation.. For some reason I do not know why but it seems more widely acceptable for a girl to play with boy toys than a boy to play with girl toys.

    1. Glad to hear you made it out of childhood unscathed! ;) I am definitely against gender limitations. I saw a cartoon somewhere talking about a parent who lets their son play with dolls. An observer asked, "Aren't you afraid he'll turn into...?" And the parent responded with, "What? A dad?"

      I was a huge tomboy growing up and I thank my parents for letting me choose to wear baseball caps and play cops and robbers instead of forcing me to wear dresses and play with dolls.