When it Comes to Toys, Less is More

When it Comes to Toys, Less is More

When it Comes to Toys, Less is More

Key Concepts

1. A child plays with 5% of their toys

2. Studies indicate fewer toys increases concentration and focus

3. Fewer toys promotes frugality and respect for material goods


Do you ever wonder why your toddler gets more excited about playing with that cardboard box than the flashy toy you spent money on. Often children don’t need more toys, as research shows that kids on average, own up to 238 toys but only play with about 5% of them. Other studies show having fewer toys benefit your child’s development in the long run and help them advance specific social, emotional, and motor skills. Play is a space with children learn, so it’s important to support them in the best ways.

When your child has fewer toys to play with, they have more space to be creative and use their imagination to build a playscape. Too many toys can lead to too many distractions. Many toys are developed with special sounds, flashing lights, and mechanical movements. All of that can lead to stagnation in your child’s ability to put more energy into creating new worlds and characters of their own. Look for toys that bring more open possibilities, such as building blocks, which can provide your child with tools to create small cities or pretend meals.

This may also be a great way to encourage your child to explore the outdoors and find cool rocks or sticks that they can turn into fun objects. Before toys, humans only had the outside world to entertain themselves and have fun. Fewer toys around the house will help your child think of other ways to express themselves and let out some energy, like climbing trees or playing hide and seek. It will also help keep your house a little more peaceful and less cluttered. You won’t be tripping over as toys as much.

Having less distracting toys around during play also helps children learn to focus on specific activities. A study published in the Journal of Infant Behaviour and Development suggested fewer toys allow younger children to engage in more focused play for longer periods with a single toy. Children can spend time world building with fewer toys, which facilitates the development of their focus and imagination. It also encourages children to think outside of the box and use different household objects to help create their world.

On a different note, having fewer toys teaches your child to be more frugal. It gives them an understanding that they don't always need it, even though they may want something. This idea need not go extreme to the point of no gifts. But it can let them know that even if they’re at a store and see something they like, they don’t always need to buy it. Having fewer gifts can also help your child learn to show gratitude for the toys that they do have and for the moments when they get a new toy. From benefiting your child’s development and imagination to keeping your living space a little less hectic and your bank account a bit more stable, having fewer toys can help in many ways.


  • I am a kindred spirit. Holly. My granddaughter, Gilly, and I had hours of pleasure from a large cardboard box, which I adapted to be her ‘own’ house. It provided shared magical times for us both, which she still recalls.

    Jack Garrett on

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