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Too Many Toys! - 5 Steps for Dealing with Toy Overload

Just like adults, children can find it difficult to focus in environments where there are too many toys. Clutter makes it hard for them to get deep into play and instead they float from toy to toy. It is the parent or caregiver's responsibility to pare things down from time to time, for everyone's sanity. 

1. Get Rid of "Busy Toys"

First off, let's eliminate overly-busy toys. What is a busy toy? Anything with batteries! You can also pass on toys with invisible squeakers, mysterious functions, and an overwhelming explosion of colors and textures. Simple toys are the way to go.

Babies are inherently creative, curious beings. A passive toy will encourage the baby to be the active director in their play, instead of being a passive recipient of entertainment from a push-button electric toy. 

If your child loves to pretend to work on a "laptop" or to use a "phone" just like you, it's fine to use the children's versions of these things; just take the batteries out. Your child will actually have more fun if it's them doing the pretending, instead of the toy bamboozling them by naming shapes in 3 languages.

For more information about simple toys, check out my Toy Guide or the lovely little book, Simple Toys Make Active Babies by Alexandra Curtis Boyer.

2. Pass On Contraptions

Baby contraptions like bouncers, excersaucers, walkers, and play gyms with dangling toys can go too. These devices take up huge amounts of space in the home and limit babies' movement and ability to be creative with objects. If you find yourself using those devices to keep your baby safe or entertained, consider setting up a Yes Space instead.

3. Give Away Things for Younger Children

There are few toys that young babies love, but a toddler won't pay much attention to. Use your rich knowledge of your baby's preferences to remove items the child hasn't played with in months and probably won't find interesting again. One example is those small stuffed toys about the size of an adult's fist. Rolling babies love to pick these up and examine them, but they get little mileage after that. The same goes for rattles, simple wooden rings, lovey cloths (unless they have been adopted as true lovies!), and other toys designed for the littlest babies.

Keep toys that have a double use as a pretend object, like measuring spoons or muffin cups, as they are likely to experience a resurgence in toddlerhood.

If there is a younger child in the family, or there will be some day, it's okay to put those toys in boxes for later. Do keep in mind that the younger child will receive their own toys as baby shower and birthday gifts, so you really only need to keep the true favorites.