Toddler play always intrigues me. N’s quite happy playing on his own; sometimes he’ll drag me over to play with something as well, or just sit and watch him, but on the whole he’s happy to choose what he wants to play with and how he wants to use it.
He’s got some great toys, and what he enjoys playing with seems to be the right things that developmentally he should be playing with at this age:
- ride on things
- blocks and bricks (he’s not a real fan of his megabloks, although when he does play with them he’s very particular about which colours go together and which ones he leaves out)
- Anything that involves stickers (they only go on the sticker book pages or himself, we’ve not yet had them on walls etc), some drawing (with pens, he’s not a crayon person)
- Figures – he loves his Happyland toys, mostly the music on the ‘school’ which he likes to dance to, then he tips all the people on the floor
- Wooden train set – he makes an attempt to put it together, then gives up, but does quite like pushing the trains around
- Role play – at nursery he likes the kitchen (at home he has a food basket with play food which he likes to tip on the floor and chew the banana), and he’s permanently pushing my old pushchair around which whatever he fancies putting in at the time. At nursery, he and his little friend Liam seem to spend a lot of time as partners in crime, pushing the 2 pushchairs up and down and moving the cushions from one area to another). He also likes ‘cooking’ with me so we don’t really need a kitchen set for him – he just gets out our saucepans and has a wooden spoon to play with.
- Tractors – he has a couple of toddler plastic ones, a decent plastic one which is really for older children and he loves playing with his dad and uncle’s old tractors over at the farm. Not surprising really, as they involve wheels and his favourite item on the farm
It’s interesting watching him and his friends play when they’re together and listening to what their favourite toys are. Of the children we see most often, the boys are definitely into wheels and vehicles and physical things, while the girls enjoy dolls and seem less violent when playing. Even at an early age where they’re all able to choose whatever toys they want to play with, they seem to very early on show preferences. Also, of the children he plays with at nursery that I hear about from the staff, it’s always boys.
N does tend to have ‘boys’ toys on the whole, but I won a pair of soft dolls in a tombola and even when I showed him how to put them in his pushchair he wasn’t fussed. He just wanted to wheel the pushchair. And with books, I bought 2 Spot books – one which is a farm story (green cover), one which is a baby sister (pink cover) story. He wouldn’t even consider the pink one when I gave him the choice of the two to read…now he will look at it, but he much prefers the other one (obviously now he’s into farms, but when he didn’t know what they were both about it was interesting to see him being so obvious about which he wanted and not).
What is annoying is when you go to buy toys which could be unisex but they make them in either a boy colour or a pink colour. Tea sets are really hard to come by in neutral colours, and now I’m looking at balance bikes, it’s trying to find a unisex colour without it still having flowers or some kind of girlie colour. My favourite colour’s blue but that doesn’t mean I want everything of his to be ‘blue’, for starters it means things are harder to sell on afterwards if they’re specifically coloured. I know a lot of my mum friends with girls don’t want their toddlers having lots of pink stuff before they start choosing colours to give them a fair choice and avoid sterotyping but sometimes it’s hard to avoid it.
I don’t think he’s really going to be able to get away from ’tractors’ and muddy stuff though being on a farm and only having 1 girl vs 5 boy cousins. But even though it’s likely to be mostly traditional ‘boys’ things at home, he’ll get all the options of toys to play with at nursery.