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11 Toys That No Toddler Really Needs (And a Few Cheap Alternatives That They Will Love)
The number of toys that clutter up our living room and pour from my kid’s closets is ridiculous. I’m relatively vigilant about donating items after holidays and birthdays, yet the toys still seem to multiply more rapidly than the bacteria lurking in Aunt Millie’s potato salad after sitting in the sun all day at the family reunion. Every now and again I take a mental inventory of the types of toys the kids have and which ones are the “good ones” and which ones I’m looking forward to ditching during the next round of donations.
1. Electronic devices that do nothing but emit a limited number of sounds
Letter sounds, word sounds, ding-dongy doorbell sounds. A lot of these toys claim to have some sort of educational benefit for the child but we all know that there is nothing that works better to promote the acquisition of language than speaking and reading to our kids ourselves. These toys don’t do much other than suck the life out of batteries while annoying the crap out of parents in the process. Our kids can figure out how to make noises of their own with their mouths and their bodies, which I’m sure is better for their brains (though maybe not for your sanity).
2. Stuffed animals that talk
And most of the other stuffed animals that don’t. Yes, kids need a few “loveys” but they usually don’t need 4850483093, which I’m quite sure is how many the average toddler has received by the age of three.
3. Motorized vehicles
An outdoor plaything that encourages sitting seems like an oxymoron, particularly when geared towards tiny people who literally can’t seem to move their bodies around enough as it is. Parents know that wearing those little legs out is what is best for their kiddo (and for themselves, let’s be honest). Toddlers don’t understand the concept of “lazy” yet, Also, they don’t understand inertia. I’ve seen my kid almost pitch backward and land on her head because she pushed the button of her purple toddler motorcycle (yes, we have one) and it shot her forward faster than she expected.
4. Dolls that sexualize females
It pains me that I even have to write this down, but I do. Children’s brains are literally being shaped based on what they observe in their hands and manipulate in their minds and we’re giving them dolls with impossibly wide thigh gaps and boobs bigger than heads? I don’t get it. I really believe there might be something wrong with us as a species.
So what are some affordable and practical toy options that both you and your kids are sure to love? Let me enlighten you:
5. Feminine Hygiene Products
Or something else you already have sitting in the bottom of your closet. One of the things my daughter played with the most, which she will absolutely kill me for talking about later in life I’m sure, is a bag of panty liners. I had them in the hall closet, which she loved because she could squeeze her little self in there and shut the door almost all the way behind her and providing her a “workspace” on a shelf that was just her height. She would unwrap the panty liners and put them back together making “pizzas” which would then get baked in the “oven” (an empty cardboard box sitting on the shelf). The amount of imaginative play that kid got out of the $4.00 package of panty liners was a thousand times greater than the price per unit.
6. Cardboard boxes
Save a few boxes from your Amazon prime deliveries and there ya have it. Duct tape a few together to make a dollhouse, a kitchen, maybe a fort. (Build the fort. Everyone loves the fort). If you get a new appliance, the fort even comes pre-assembled. If you shop online as much as we do you’ll be able to construct your very own metropolitan center in no time.
7. Dry Noodles
Pour some ditalini or penne noodles into a large bowl, give your kid a few scoops, spoons, tongs, dixie cups, empty butter containers or whatever you’ve got in your Tupperware drawer and you’ve got entertainment for hours. I keep the noodles in a labeled bag and they can be reused until I finally run out of noodles that aren’t covered in hair, crumbs, leaves, or other debris (we often do this outside in good weather). Full disclosure: I tried the noodle thing once outside in combination with a kiddy pool and it was sort of a disgusting disaster. Noodles and pools do not make for easy cleanup. Beware the Noodle-Pool connection.