Most toy stores have aisles specifically dedicated to girls' and boys' toys, but who decided that cars are for boys and dolls are for girls? Gender-appropriate toys shape your child's personal preferences and play styles. This type of stereotyping at a young age can eventually prevent your child from developing a full range of talents, interests, and preferences. So instead of giving your child toys that encourage boys to be active, rough, and rowdy and girls to be obsessed with beauty, glamor, and baby care, consider purchasing some of these gender-neutral toys for Christmas.
Puzzles, Games, and Educational Toys
Puzzles, games, and educational toys are great for kids of all ages and any gender. Shape sorters, electronic toys that teach the alphabet or animal sounds, and simple wooden puzzles are great gift ideas for toddlers. Children in preschool or early elementary grades might enjoy age-appropriate board games that the whole family can play and devices and/or games that teach phonics and reading skills. Additionally, age-appropriate books are great for children of all ages.
There are also a variety of educational toys that transition well between toddlers and young children. For example, a child-sized, colorful abacus will help teach toddlers how to count, and preschool-age children to add and subtract. Magnetic learning stations also appeal to both toddlers and younger children. Use a magnetic learning station with your toddler to teach shapes and sounds of letters, and when your child gets older, it can be used to teach him or her how to spell various words.
Pretend play allows young children to use their imagination. It helps children embrace creativity and encourages them to do things that they enjoy. Costumes and pretend-play outfits are great gifts for both toddlers and young children. You should also consider purchasing a wooden play kitchen. Young boys and girls often enjoy mimicking their mothers, and a wooden play kitchen is great for playing pretend. Purchase a wooden play kitchen that features gender-neutral colors, and fill it with play food, pots, pans, and dishes. You can even purchase a chef costume to further encourage pretend play. Other toys that encourage pretend play include:
- Doctor, vet, or tool kits
- Fabric forts or tents
- Plastic cash registers
- Pretend teaching supplies
- Stuffed animals
If you have an active child, you should consider purchasing a balance bike. Balance bikes teach children as young as 18 months old how to balance on a bike without training wheels. Sports gear is also a good option for active children. If your child is more creative than active, consider purchasing a variety of art supplies. Young children often love finger paints, molding clay, coloring books, and crayons.
You don't need to purchase toys for your child that are considered gender specific. The type of toys you purchase for your child is completely up to you. So as you're preparing to Christmas shop, consider purchasing toys that encourage your child to expand and explore his/her interests whatever they may be.