In November I shared a list of Oliver’s favourite non-toy playthings, so I thought it might also be fun to share some pictures of Oliver’s actual toys.

We are fairly selective about the toys we allow into the home. Clutter stresses me out, and I have no desire for our décor to be Fisher-Price themed. If it makes me a mean mother to not want to have multi-coloured plastic tripping hazards scattered throughout the house, then I guess I shall wear that label proudly :).

In choosing Oliver’s toys, we always try to stick to those that are non-electronic and that encourage open or creative play. There are some very compelling developmental arguments for this approach, but mainly, I have to admit that electronic toys drive me insane. I’d far sooner listen Oliver’s excited yelling or the sound of him banging on a drum than to listen to electronic beeps and bings. Foregoing electronic toys also has the added benefit of eliminating the need to replace batteries… ever!

Now that Oliver has outgrown his infant toys, I try to choose toys that are not necessarily specific to his particular stage of development, but that can adapt and grow with him through various stages. We limit the quantity of toys by requiring that any new acquisitions be able to be neatly and easily stored in Oliver’s room. Often this means enforcing a “one in, one out” policy.

I wouldn’t say that Oliver’s toy collection is “minimalist” by any stretch, but he definitely has fewer toys than the average North American 18-month-old. Residing in an apartment in downtown means that our living and storage space is at a premium. We don’t have a play room, and by necessity, much of Oliver’s play and recreation takes place outside the home. Since we don’t really spend a ton of time cooped up in the apartment, this approach of having fewer toys works well for us.

Oliver’s toys are kept in his bedroom, with the sole exception of his arts and crafts table (is that even a toy?) in the living room. We don’t discourage him from bringing his toys into other rooms if he wants to play outside of his bedroom; however, they are always returned to their proper place when he has finished playing.

Without further ado, here are some photos of Oliver’s toys:


The bookshelf — one of two designated toy storage areas.


We store Oliver’s wooden xylophone on top of his bookshelf where he can’t reach it. Because it is a real instrument and not a toy, for now he can only play with it under close supervision. The top shelf holds all of Oliver’s non-board books (i.e. books we don’t want him to ruin), as well as a few special gift items and some CDs.


Top shelf: Bristle blocks, an IKEA “Spöka” night light, Melissa and Doug stacking 3D pull-along puzzles (train and zoo themed).  Bottom shelf: Remo Kids bongos, Melissa and Doug ring stacker and pound-and-roll tower with hammer.


Top shelf: Most of Oliver’s board book collection. He goes through phases of liking four or five books for a couple of weeks at a time, with new books constantly shifting in and out of the rotation. Bottom shelf: The rest of the board book collection, Kushies Zolo Beanstax bean bags, some soft books, Melissa and Doug shape sorter and tool box, and some mini-board books.


This IKEA Trofast storage shelf holds all of the rest of Oliver’s toys. Top left: White noise machine (for sleeping; not a toy).


A bin full of soft toys. He has no particular attachment to these as comfort objects. They are just for play.


Kushies Zolo Stackrobats, a soft barn with four little plush animals inside, and the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, complete with the fly and other animal beanbags for her to “swallow.”


A drawer full of vehicles and balls.


Oliver’s beloved “Doggy,” along with “Bunny” and “Big Bunny” (we’re very original with naming around here 🙂 ). Doggy is Oliver’s most important comfort toy, and Oliver sleeps with both Doggy and Bunny at night.


Assorted small toys: squirty bath toys, finger puppets, felt food pieces and small plastic screw-top jars. Note the felt pineapple rings — still one of Oliver’s enduring favourites! This drawer gets opened during every play time.


Two age-appropriate Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles.


A bin full of Wedgits, aka the best building toy ever! Oliver’s current interest with this toy consists of asking us to build things that he can smash. He does not yet try to build anything himself.


An amazing latching box handmade by my friend Matt at Cantilever and Press. Matt makes custom furniture, storage systems and other goods from reclaimed wood. We commissioned him to build this box for Oliver’s Hannukah/Christmas gift. It has two separate compartments and six hinged doors, each with different types of latches. It’s basically a toddler’s dream come true :).


A pail, our non-functioning cordless phone receiver (thanks, Oliver), a set of stacking cups, two squares of interesting fabric, and a lidded cup filled with some jingle bells I bought for a few dollars at a craft store. The bells are another one of Oliver’s favourite toys — something he plays with almost every day.


Gross motor toys for riding, pushing and pulling. Left to right: Scramble Bug, Vilac push/ride-on trolley and Little Tikes wagon.


Oliver’s arts and crafts table in the living room. I’m really glad that we went with the inexpensive ($25) table and chairs set from IKEA, as he has already ruined it with crayon scribbles.

In addition to the above, Oliver has a pop-up play tent (stored in his closet and brought out for an occasional treat), a small basket of hand percussion instruments (also stored in his closet because they are fragile), and a couple of rocks. Oliver loves to pick up rocks on our daily walks. We allow him to keep two rocks at a time, so if he wants to choose a new one, he has to leave one of the old ones behind. He usually keeps the same rocks for several days or weeks, until he accidentally loses one.

I always love to see what interesting toys other children have, so if you have a blog and would like to share some photos or descriptions of your child’s toys, please feel free to add a link to your blog in the comments below.

If you don’t have a blog, I’d love to hear a little bit about how you choose your child’s toys.

Which toys does your child prefer? Which toys do you prefer :)? Do you have any guidelines for how you choose toys for your child, or do you take a more laissez-faire approach? Does your child have few or many toys? How do you deal with unwanted or excess gifts?

9 responses to “ABOUT TOYS

  1. Great post! My husband and I try to keep toys to a minimum too – for the exact reasons you state. We also have the hard type of plastic animals – just zoo animals right now but I’d like him to get farm animals too. We also go with musical instruments since my family is musically inclined. My son LOVES his harmonica and I never get tired of hearing him play it. I think we need to get some more Melissa & Doug toys! I’ll also be sewing him some felt food toys and I recently made him some felt fish with numbers on them with washes sewed into their mouth so e can go “fishing” with his cane pole with a magnet on the end. Fun times!

    • My brothers and I used to walk around the house playing harmonicas. I’m sure my parents found it thoroughly obnoxious, but they never let on 🙂

      The Melissa and Doug toys are a really good, affordable option for wooden toys. They are far from top-of-the-line quality (to me, Hape, Plan Toys and Vilac are much nicer), but they are great value and they are colourful and appealing to play with.

      I wish I had your mad sewing skills so I could make toys too! 🙂 Luckily, I found an Etsy seller who will be able to make some felt food toys for us at a reasonable price.

  2. At what point did you introduce the white noise machine? Is it something that you will always use do you think? i suspect my daughter would respond well to it but my husband isn’t convinced…

    • We’ve used white noise of some type since day one — first an iPad app, then a Sleep Sheep (bad idea, btw, because it shuts off after 45 min and then they wake up wondering where the noise went!) and then finally the plug-in white noise machine. There are a lot of really good reasons to use white noise. For newborns, it’s very comforting and apparently reminds them of being back in the womb, because they are used to having constant background noise. We learned this from “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” and it was a really helpful soothing tool (not just at sleep time) in some of the early fussy days.

      For older babies, it helps to block out transient noises that can disturb them during their lighter sleep phases. Since Oliver has always had white noise during sleep time, it also acts as a sleep cue for him. As long as it’s something that stays on constantly throughout their entire sleep period, it is considered to be a helpful sleep prop. We probably won’t ditch it anytime soon, especially since we live three blocks from a fire station, right by the main intersection where they always turn their sirens on!

  3. We read all about the minimalist approach to toys in Simplicity Parenting, and were totally on board with the whole idea; it fits our lifestyle and the calm enviroment I think has helped Violet sleep well since she was a few weeks old (that’s not *always* true, but it is most of the time when she’s not sick). Her most extravagant toy is a kitchen with burners that boil and sizzle when you place pots on them and a microwave and oven that have buttons that beep when you push them. She really loves it and spends hours fixing us “food” which she feeds us with great pride!
    On a side (and slightly comical) note, we have hidden from her some of the play plastic food that she got for Christmas, which was a bunch of junk (donuts, cake, etc). We figure she’s not going to eat that stuff outside of her kitchen, why would we let her make it for us or eat it even when pretending? That and we’re big meanies! 🙂 I think the in-laws that bought us the kitchen roll their eyes at that one.

    Other than that she loves her wooden blocks, elephant shape sorter and her beloved lamb, Lamby (we, too, are original with our naming).

    Our noise maker has also been a lifesaver. We take it on every trip!

    Great post, Carli!

    • A play kitchen is such a great toy! I have very fond memories of the one I had as a child. We’ve been dragging our heels on buying one because we just don’t have anywhere to put it right now.

      By the way, Robin, I would *totally* do the same thing as you with hiding the play junk food! :D. We ignore junk food pictures and references in Oliver’s books… just skip right over them as if they aren’t there. It seems silly, but I can’t bring myself to teach him words like cookie, cake and doughnut, when I don’t want him to be interested in those things right now. There will be no shortage of exposures to junk food later in life.

  4. I love this post! I also hate plastic noise makers, ugh. My son received a couple at Christmas and I’ve since hid them! I hope to accidently lose them someday hehe. My son is 8 months old, I would love to know your favorite infant toys. I am keeping his toys to a minimum too, but even I get bored with the same ones everyday : )

    • I think infant toys are just generally boring (to adults) 🙂 There’s really only so many ways to make squeak/rattle/crinkle/jingle/mirror stuff new and exciting. Around eight months, or maybe shortly afterwards, Oliver started to develop an interest in putting objects into containers and taking them out. He also liked knocking down towers of blocks or stacking cups. Okay, not exactly riveting entertainment for an adult, but it’s the start of more interesting play 🙂

      Of the toys in the photos above, at eight months Oliver played with the Barnyard Friends, the stacking cups, the pail, the shape sorter (just putting the shapes into the open top and dumping them out), and the toolbox (we would make little creations for him to play with). We also had all his infant rattles and teething toys. But yes, I do remember it being a very boring time. It’s short lived, though 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s