Image source: Essential Montessori on Etsy
There are so many toys on the shelves these days its overwhelming. There are toys that light up, ones that make noise, some require batteries and some entice children with their music capabilities. As a parent you buy these new, exciting toys only to find your baby playing with a water bottle, or banging on kitchen pots and pans. How come these toys don't hold your child's attention like you hoped it would? The answer is quite simple. Children are creative problem solvers. They're scientists, discoverers, they're active. When your child, or baby, plays with simple toys they are in control of the toy and not the other way around. They are able to grow their imagination and learn about their world, while also fine tuning cognitive and fine motor skills.
Roberta Golinkoff, head of the Infant Language Project at the University of Delaware says, “Electronic educational toy companies boast brain development and that they are going to give your child a head start. But developmental psychologists know that it doesn’t really work this way. The toy manufacturers are playing on parents’ fears that our children will be left behind in this global marketplace...kids are not like empty vessels to be filled. If they play with toys that allow them to be explorers, they are more likely to learn important lessons about how to master their world.”
A lot of toys direct children to talk into them, press a button, or pull a lever. But children like to discover things on their own. So what are some things to think about when looking at toys?
There is also a point to be made about the waste that is produced from all these fancy, flashy toys. Buying fewer toys, means we are creating less waste - less packaging, which is better for the environment. We are bringing less chemical laced plastic into our lives, which is better for our bodies. We are acquiring less things that fill our homes - less dust, less surfaces for germs to grow, which is better for our health. We spend less money, which is better for our wallets. Yes, we can reuse lots of materials that become imaginative toys but sometimes, its just easier to buy something. In that case I always recommend high quality toys that are eco-friendly, kid-friendly, easy to clean and ones that will promote play for a wide range of ages. I also recommend to my families to not have every single toy out. I come from a Montessori background and the ideas around toys, or as they call it, learning materials, is that only a few items are in the environment at a time. After a certain amount of time, weeks or months, you simply exchange the 5-6 toys for new ones. This way your child isn't bombarded with too many options and it keeps you from needing to buy, or make, new things. Each time a swap happens they get to play with a toy they may have forgotten about, or discover a new way to play with an old toy. Living in a city and finding space for all of that can be an issue. A great option would be doing a toy swap with other families. Find a group of Moms, big or small, and rotate toys between yourselves!
Here are some ideas for homemade recycled toys...
Toilet/paper towel rolls- megaphone, telescope, a chute for smaller items like cotton balls, Fill with dried beans and tape ends shut for music makers.
Empty egg carton- Place a cheerio in each egg slot and allow children to use pincer grasp to get it out. Can be used as counting practice for older children.
Empty food/water containers- cleaned out bottles can be a big source of entertainment, also great in the tub! Children love to put things in and out. Can also be filled with dried rice or pasta.
Cardboard Boxes- to draw in, climb inside or push around. It's pretty limitless.
Empty Tissue Boxes- different things (smaller toys, cotton balls, tissue paper) can be placed inside and baby can enjoy pulling things out and putting things back in over and over again.
For store bought toys...
Sensory Stacking Hoops
Pound and Tap Xylophone
Wooden Bell Chimes
12 piece rainbow stacker
Infant Montessori Bag
Toddler Chair and Slide
Ansley has been teaching Infant Movement classes since 2013, after studying Developmental Movement with Ellynne Skove. Since completing her training Ansley has taught all over the New York, New Jersey, Boston and now Florida. Ansley is certified in Level 1 Reiki and has completed her 200hr YT. She is passionate about empowering, nurturing and providing care to all families as they encounter the demands and joys of parenthood. Through her work she is able to soulfully fulfil her greatest ambition; to care for others.