You might have guessed it – yes, I researched toys before Lars was born. (I’ve been known to research everything pretty much.)
Maybe it’s because when I was pregnant with Larsen, wooden toys became popular again. Those glossy, uncluttered, beautiful rooms filled with light woods next to sheepskin rugs get me every time. I have a thing for modern and uncomplicated.
And then Mike’s parents brought over a little wooden trike that all the kids in his family played with. Thirty years later, and it’s still in perfect condition.
I knew from my research that children do not need those toys that flash, whistle, beep, talk, etc.
Too many toys clutter rooms just like too many sensory triggers from toys cause clutter in the brain:
Diane E. Levin, a professor at the early childhood education department of Wheelock College in Boston, calls the phenomenon “problem solving deficit disorder.” Levin contends that such products overstimulate very young children, so instead of using their own resources to solve a problem or an uncomfortable feeling – Mom is in the shower, boredom, and so on – they apply those resources to processing the dazzling object that has been placed before them. Over time, Levin says, babies and toddlers accustomed to getting this kind of “hit” when they feel uncomfortable they may not just become dependent on having that hit but may even lose the ability to work through feelings and ideas independently or with the help of a trusted friend. Marie Anzalone, who is on the faculty of Columbia University’s occupational therapy program, reports that she frequently treats very young children from low-income as well as upper-middle class families who appear glazed over and numb, which she believes is an ingrained response from technology toys and television. These toddlers simply can not integrate the sensory overload to which they are routinely subjected; to cope, they begin to tune out. ~Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds By Susan Gregory Thomas
My motto is to keep it simple – a simple, uncluttered room with a limited amount of toys and books.
But now that he’s almost three, he knows how to open his closet door to find the stash of toys. I try to maintain a one-toy-out, a one-toy-in policy while stating, “Let’s put some of these toys away so we have more room to play,” and it’s working for the moment.
So when he’s not outside “mountaineering” up his slide or in the pool “practicing” swimming without his floaty, these are the toys he keeps coming back to:
1. Wooden Blocks – We love the Treehaus Wood Castle Blocks or he has a big bin full of blocks his great-grandfather made him.
2. Magna Tiles – These are fantastic and so versatile.
3. Stomp Rocket – He received this as a gift for his 2nd birthday and has loved it every day ever since.
4. Binoculars – He takes them everywhere we go!
5. Flashlights of any kind. We found this cool Disney Planes Flashlight that shines Dusty on the wall.
6. These two Green Toys are fun. First, we have the rocket that came with two astronauts. Next, we have this little boat that pours, which we use in the bathtub!
7. Magnetic Mighty Mind – This is great for travel. He learns which magnet shapes fit where, and each page gets progressively more challenging.
8. Glider Planes – They don’t last long in our house because they are made of styrofoam. We are in a “learning how things break” stage. But he will throw this for a good hour before he demolishes it!
9. Velcro Toss – This solved the frustration of Lars not being able to catch just yet.
10. Take Apart Plane – This comes with a drill and screws so it can be put together or taken apart.
Today, I watched him play with his new favorite toy – his little hooded cape made of a dinner napkin and clothespin. I hope it will be this easy for a long time.