As a parent it’s only too easy to get sucked into the toy trap. With all the best intensions, we overflow our toy boxes in the belief that lots of toys are important for our children’s happiness and development. Despite what the toy marketeers would have us believe, this simply isn’t true. I’ve devised this minimalist kids toys guide to give you what you need to dump the junk and create a fun, stimulating, clutter free toy collection.
OK so toys aren’t bad for children however having too many, or too few of the right type, can hamper their creativity and learning. In addition to this, on a practical level, how much time do we waste tidying up the toys each and every day? In our house of two busy boys I can tell you this was A LOT of wasted time and added stress.
This post contains information on the principles you should look for in minimalist kids toys and then some specific toy suggestions. You definitely don’t need everything from this list nor is there a minimum or maximum number you should be working to. It’s always worth considering the space you have available, what you already have and your children’s own interests before rushing out to buy anything new.
Right, so let’s get started…
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BUYING PRINCIPLES FOR MINIMALIST KIDS TOYS
There are three buying principles to consider with minimalist kids toys – storage, quality and usage. I’ll explain a little more about why these factors are important:
Right at the heart of minimalism is keeping life clutter free. Therefore an important consideration when purchasing minimalist kids toys is their storage solution. Toys should be easy to organise within the storage of your home or come with their own (easy to stow) storage solution.
Toys which are built to last are a great investment – you’ll rarely need to replace them and they can be passed onto younger siblings, family or friends once finished with.
Well made wooden or woven toys usually carry a higher purchase price than their quick fix, plastic alternatives. To help your purse (and the environment) try shopping for these items second hand first.
There are no specific brands you have to buy but opting for reputable, quality, timeless classics will ensure any toy investment is fruitful.
The best minimalist kids toys are those which are open-ended.
Open ended toys are toys which can be used in a variety of ways depending on a child’s imagination and desire. They’re a brilliant fit with a minimalist lifestyle as you only have one of them (less clutter – tick!). They also foster creativity and provide endless play opportunities meaning you get more with less.
So now you know the characteristics of minimalist kids toys I am now going to share my toy box essentials.
They are split down into Minimalist Baby Toys and Minimalist Kids Toys.
There’s no set age for which the Minimalist Kids Toys list is relevant for. You know your kids best and will be able to judge what stage they are at and what toys are appropriate.
MINIMALIST BABY TOYS
Babies really don’t need much in the way of ‘toys’ – in fact too many easily overwhelm and overstimulate them (if you’ve been here before, you’ll know this is not a situation any parent wants!)
Toys can however be useful to help aide a babies cognitive and physical development. The buying principles for minimalist toys also apply to purchasing baby toys.
Here’s our minimalist baby toy suggestions…
Baby Gym / Mobile
Whilst baby bouncers and chairs have their place, being able to lay down and freely kick/grab/wriggle/roll around is vital to a babies development. You don’t need any special tummy time toys but a decent play gym or hanging mobile can be really engaging for a baby.
This simple gym is perfect and you can add your own DIY creations if you like!
This gym is a ‘grow-with-me’ play gym is a great investment piece. The sensory mats, perfect for curious babies, convert into a tent for fun older baby and toddler play.
Babies love looking at faces, particularly their own. Acrylic mirrors are the only ones safe for babies to use. Transportable versions like this are not only really engaging but easy to store and transport around with you.
Something to shake and chew on is the perfect baby play combo
A set of play balls are great for sensory and developing fine motor and gross motor skills.
Stacking cups or boxes are an essential for every baby toy collection. Invest in a good quality durable set (shown below) so that they last through to the toddler years and beyond where no doubt they’ll still be used regularly.
Board books and soft touch books like these are great to help babies foster a life long love of reading!
Wooden blocks are the staple of every great toy collection. First blocks should be easy for babies to hold and stack. Investing in quality blocks with letters and numbers will ensure they’re continued usage for many years past the baby days!
Puzzles are brilliant for cognitive development and fine motor skills. You’ll only need a few. We’ve had two much loved wooden puzzles – one with animals and one with shapes and colours.
MINIMALIST KIDS TOYS: THE ESSENTIALS
The toy suggestions listed here are split by indoor and outdoor toys. Generally the outdoor toys are not suitable for indoor use however the indoor toys can (and should) also be enjoyed outdoors.
Here’s a round up of the best indoor minimalist kids toys:
The ultimate open ended building toy for kids! A mixed set with different brick sizes and shapes are perfect for hours of endless creativity.
There are several brands of these on the market. Magformers are our personal favourite for durability and build quality.
Wooden blocks of different shapes and sizes can be used to create play themes and games. Just yesterday, we had a wooden block castle which then magically transported into a space rocket and then a giant monkey (kids imaginations are so amazing).
A small collection of classic children’s books will be well loved and enjoyed time and time again.
Joining your local library will help keep your collection interesting and avoid clutter. Regularly updating the reading collection with library loans avoids spending money on new books and accumulating ‘more stuff’ in the home.
Any game which is suitable for the family to connect and enjoy time together. This can be as simple as a pack of cards. We love our 101-in-1 board game which gives us a collection of all the classic board games in one single box.
Colours, pens, paints, chalks, anything/everything that allow children to express their creativity!
A gender neutral doll or soft toy symbolises human life and gives a child something important to care for and look after. They can also use them to practise real life skills. A child only needs one simple doll or soft toy.
We love how brilliant silk scarves are for creativity! In our house they are used for dressing up, making flags, provide roads for cars to drive on and everything in between.
Cars, trains and trucks provide great ‘small world’ play. We use predominately wooden vehicles for their durability.
Mother Nature is a brilliant open ended world of imagination. There’s nothing better than being in the great outdoors. Moreover it’s really healthy, and important, for children to regularly play outside.
Toys which entice children to have fun in the garden or encourage a greater love of outdoors are brilliant additions to all family homes, minimalists included.
Here are some awesome minimalist kids toys to use outdoors:
Bug Hunting Kit
Sand play set (great if you live by the beach)
And so that’s it for my minimalist kids toys guide, I really hope it was useful. Have you found any amazing minimalist kids toys which don’t feature here already? Let me know in the comments below!
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