The holidays always seem to be a time when I really have to nail down the reasons we choose safer toys. It’s also a time to evaluate what we prefer in toys.

It can be hard figuring out your reasons for not wanting certain toys. It can be hard pinning down what exactly you are looking for in toys for your children. Even though it’s been 4 years since my family started down the safer toy journey, I am still changing my toy criteria and still looking for answers as to why I make these decisions. Not that I have no idea why I choose safer toys but more so because it’s hard to remember the reasons all the time and when asked by family members or friends why I don’t allow this or that, I can sometimes come up blank (it’s hard to keep all those toxins straight!)

Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing Toys for Natural Kids

Toys that will last – I like toys that last through the years. Toys really should last from kid to kid and be able to pass on. I also like toys that will last through at least a few years with my kids. I don’t want to collect new toys that will only last for a few months and then my child out grows it. I don’t have the money or space for that!

Ditch buttons, lights, sounds – It is just too much noise. In the world we live in, I think kids need less of that. We are raising a generation of children with much shorter attention spans that past generations and I think flashy toys are part of the problem.

Less is more – More toys do not equal happier kids or even more loved kids. More just means more and can sometimes lead to children to feel like they do not need to to take care of their stuff. Less stuff also means that your child learns to appreciate each thing that they are given. Less toys also means that your child spends more time playing with each of their toys so they actual play with them. Instead of just playing with each toy for a few minutes and then moving on to the next one (again, supporting the short attention span theory)

Focus on learning with toys, not learning through toys – I am a bit old fashion in this area. I like the idea of my kids using their imaginations. I like them learning their colors, shapes, numbers through objects and not computer voices telling them. Don’t get me wrong, educational toys, movies, video games are not inherently evil…but if it’s a toy, I like it to be a toy. I’ll save the education teaching to myself, teachers, and the occasional movie/video game.

Gender specific isn’t that important – I let my boys play with dolls and my daughter pretends to be a pirate. There’s nothing wrong with letting kids play with the toys that are generally designated with the opposite gender. Boys playing with girl stuff teaches them how to be gentle and helpful in the home. Girls playing with boy stuff teaches them how to be strong and adventurous. These are great traits for BOTH genders to have. That said, I do still tend to put the girl toys on my daughter’s wish list and the boy toys on my boys’ wish lists simply because it’s usually what they want…but they still play with each others toys.

Non-toxic – In my house, we avoid plastic in all areas and toys are no exception. Why? Because I do not like the chemicals that are in and leach from plastic. I do not need to expose my children to more plastic then they are already exposed to. However, while on this subject, I will say that the no plastic rule is just in MY house. If we are at a friend’s house, grandparent’s house, or nursery I allow the kids to play with the plastic toys. Sure, I’d rather that all those places have safer toys but it’s not my place to regulate what they choose and it wouldn’t be very nice to turn up my nose and give the impression that we are “better” than them for choosing alternatives. We make our choices and we let others make theirs.