Frustrated with Toys!

Updated on February 21, 2012
M.P. asks from De Pere, WI
18 answers

Has anyone else out there realized how stupid toys are these days?? They don't allow kids to have any imagination! So many toys out there have so many "bells and whistles" and flashy lights, sounds, buttons, etc. My son has a Fisher Price "Tow and Pull Tractor" and instead of using it as a vehicle and pushing it around, he gets obsessed with the button under the Farmer that sings a song or makes tractor sounds when the farmer is pushed. He also has a workbench with little tools but each tool makes its own noise and has flashy lights. I have my bachelor's in Early Childhood and I strongly believe that the "simpler the toy" the more complex the play, which is how kids learn. When it comes time for his birthday or Christmas, how can we convey to family members that buy him presents that we don't want those "fad" flashy toys (leap pad, I hate vtech, etc)?? I have tried saying specific things that we would like/need for his "stash", but all he got for Christmas were those flashy things....Sorry for the rant, but just curious what you all think of toys these days and how I get people to understand our stand. You always have the family members that want to buy the noisiest, most obnoxious toy because they think it is funny and will annoy you...I don't mind buying him noisy toys...but if you want to buy him a noisy toy, buy him an instrument or something that is SUPPOSED to be noisy!!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

@ Angela - YES! But even Legos are not what they used to be! I remember my brother getting the huge sets and you have to put all the tiny pieces together...but the sets these days are not tons of tiny pieces but bigger parts that don't seem to take as long. How do I get my relatives to buy the cool stuff like that instead of them just wanting to buy us the toys that they think would annoy us or that they think are "learning toys"....THEY ARE NOT LEARNING TOYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@ Dana - OMG so true! And how annoying is it that all the boys toys are CARS or TOY STORY...Just give me a little kids chair or beanbag that is something GENERIC instead of those mass produced things that EVERY OTHER boy is going to have!!!!!! UGH!!!!!!!!!!!

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

I agree whole-heartedly. It ends up that my daughter likes just the basics. For example, she climbs in an empty diaper box, plays with empty water bottles, stuffed animals, etc.

She has some electronic toys but was only interested in them for just a short while.

Perhaps you can donate the flashy toys or consign them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yes, I feel the same way, I also studied Early Childhood Development. My kids don't even play with them either. For Christmas, they got 3 remote control racecars and a few video games, when they really wanted things like a microscope set... my boys just broke the cars after a day of rough playing and it's a daily struggle to get them off the dang video games. We have a few bins filled with flashy toys ,pixar/disney... ugh... I just donate them once the bin fills up. I also had a talk with relatives once about toys, I lived in a 400 sq ft apartment and the inlaws kept buying these huge riding toys and such, once they got my 2 yr old a huge glass mosaic zebra statue, we couldn't even fit them in the apart. I threw a fit after they started sneaking toys to my kids. Shouldn't have done that, but they didn't respond to nice little talks. Anyways, it's gotten better over the years. You can't change what they give, but you can take toys back to the store or give them away.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

You can't control what toys people buy but you can control whether you put batteries in them ;)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

That's precisely why we have mostly wooden toys, in our home. Along with cardboard boxes, blocks, gnomes made out of wooden pegs, and more books then I can count. He actually has very few toys, but the toys he has he never gets board with. Both sets of parents (mine and in-laws) actually ask me to make an amazon list for my son, so they can have ideas of what to buy. They are happy to get something he will use, and I LOVE having a little control of what's coming into our home!!

We are SO lucky, in that my MIL saved ALL my husbands legos from when he was a boy. My brother and sister in-law are struggling financially, so they did something simple, but priceless for our Christmas gift. They actually went through all the thousands of legos (He has a TON), and sorted them all by color, shape, size, and put them into baggies. I have no idea how many hours that probably took them We now have a few huge tubs of legos, and we are so fortunate. They are the old, good kind!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Yes, I tried to encourage basic toys, but sometimes, adults get excited about the thought of getting to play with the toys themselves. Hee, hee.. It is an excuse.

Of course I also began to notice what our daughter really spent time playing with and this was good information to share. She did not get into stuffed animals, she was not into baby dolls, she liked anything with wheels, anything she could peddle, push, take things out of and put things into..

Things that would stack..

Art supplies all types, and then Barbies.. Mostly the outfits. She loved organizing them in little drawers.. Again, "putting things in and taking things out.."

And her #1 favorite thing to this day is books. You could give her all books and even as a toddler, that was her favorite. It took a few years for us to convince the relatives, but once they saw her in her room covered in books, they got the massage.

My father was the worst. Gave her toys with batteries.. lights, sounds.. etc.. My father even took her to Toys R us one time and told her she could have "anything she wanted.".

She looked around for an hour and then asked him, "may we go to Barnes and Nobles? " My father said he had "never seen her so excited, so engaged and so interested in everything she saw there." From then on he gave her a gift card or cash so she could buy her beloved books.

So just give them time, they will learn.. I used to take those loud toys back to the homes of the people that gave them to her so their kids or grand kids could play with them.. Hee, hee..

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am with you. My kids are older, but we went through that with some of the relatives. The easy solution (if they will respect your requests) is to tell them nothing with a battery and nothing that is a trademarked character.
Some will, some won't.

Make sure you have a list of specific suggestions ready, in case they ask you what you DO want him to have.

You didn't say how old your son is, but here are some of the things I tried to be sure our kids had:
Lincoln Logs
Tinker Toys
generic wooden train track pieces and trains
watercolor paints and plain paper
Plain legos (these get harder to find when you get the original sized ones... the larger sized ones for 2-5 yr olds are easier to find in the "plain" version)
Wooden blocks
regular deck of cards (for memory)
play doh

And I have been known to buy some "retro" toys too... my kids are 10 and 13, so these might not be for your kiddo yet...

RockemSockem Robots (broke pretty easily, but it was like $9)
Rubics Cube
Gnip-Gnop (that was GREAT the Christmas they opened that... lol)

ETA: and Puzzles!! We had tons of puzzles. Still do, actually... started with the wooden peg kind, then gradually got the kind that fit together, then smaller/fewer pieces... daughter still loves them. Son doesn't have the patience for them---he prefers mine craft, lol.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Fortunately, my son HATES noisy toys and always insists I take the batteries out.

BTW, I really like Legos. Yes, they're not what we had as kids, but my brother and I found the ones we had back in the 70s kind of frustrating. You'd see these beautiful structures on the cover of the box and they were always impossible to make (at least for us!). Nowadays, my son is constantly remaking his Lego sets (both big and small) into his own structures. He really uses his imagination and plays with them endlessly.

Our big problem here is that we simply have too many toys. I've got to cull them out again.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I totally understand your rant. We got to the point that we only bought our boys non-electronic toys - legos, Lincoln logs, tinker toys, books, hot wheels, etc. It was so much more fun (and I think better for them) to watch them use their imaginations. Now they're older, well, our youngest is almost 8 and he still loves Legos, but we don't have as many toys around. Both of our boys have great imaginations.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Uh-no-my Grandson started telling us the letters of the alphabet when he was around 15 months old-well, maybe a little earlier. Prior to that, he made astounding observations demonstrated by his remarkable ability to show us his knowledge. He literally studies on his own and can spell dozens of words-including his name (at 2 yrs old)-without looking at the word-he is now almost 27 months-but, seriously-the "toys" teach more than you think-and their benefit is unique to each child.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes - generally toys are awful. My mom always discussed what she wanted to buy DS before she purchased it. It really was not a problem. MIL - mostly gets ok toys but does/did not get that we do NOT want corporate branded toys, gender stereotyped toys, character toys or LOUD toys. When they turn up (thankfully not that often), they disappear into the garage, never to be seen again. Fortunately she has much more often purchased books for him. He has received some rather awful toys from friends for his birthdays. Those have also tended to mysteriously vanish. He has no tech type toys and we have discussed with him that other toys are way better for his brain.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

For two years now we have asked people to buy experiences and not toys, to the great dismay of many of our family members. Frequently we still do get toys, but we have also gotten clothes and money/gift certificates to classes, children's museums and sports/activity gyms.

Despite this we have a house bursting with toys, and my daughter increases her toy abundance by adopting our entire household into her stash. Every now and then I go through her toys and bag underused ones for family member's households. If someone gives us a really obnoxious toy, I usually just smile and say, yay, she'll be so happy to play with it when she visits your house :-)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am lucky that when I tell my relatives that my girls need something versus wanting something they usually abide by my wishes. For instance - my 5 year old colors all the time and goes through a big box of crayons every few months - wears them down to nubs. I will tell my dad that the girls would like dolls but need crayons - they usually get the crayons. It is nice. My MIL usually buys clothes because the toys annoy her as well. Our good friends are educators so the girls get "noisy" toys but they are also educations. I would lay it out straight with them. Tell them he has too many toys and you have considered culling through them. He doesn't need that many so puzzles, art supplies, clothes would be much more appreaciated.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

They toys my boys play with most are Legos. My youngest will play with his playmobil sets. I like the playmobil because there are no flashy/noisy things on it. I think his firetruck and school bus have flashing lights but they make no noise so it doesn't take over the whole toy.
If you buy the plain Lego bin it has all the basic pieces with nothing big or fancy. Most of the Lego sets we have now are mixed up so they get to make their own creations. I think they have more fun doing that than building from a set.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It might help to give them a list of toys that you want him to have or that he wants. Once you're in the store all these fancy toys beckon and it's difficult to find something more basic.

I would just continue to be direct in telling them not to buy the toys with batteries, etc.



answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with you and from the start with our son we have had a "no battery toys" policy. When he was younger, we had a lot of wooden and cloth toys (blocks, trains, wooden food for toy kitchen, musical instruments, dress up clothes, etc.). We never shopped at Target, Walmart, etc. Instead I shopped catalogs like Constructive Playthings, Mindware, Family Pastimes, etc. and stores like Peapods, Choo Choo Bob's, etc. We sought out cooperative board games from Family Pastimes, science kits etc. As he has gotten older some of our favorites as the years go by are Wedgits, Snap-Circuits, Legos, K'nex. Our son is 8 and one of his favorite activities is still to put on his red cape (just a piece of scrap cloth), his helmet, sword, and shield and to run around the yard having mock battles with imaginary enemies.

I remember going to my brother's house when his twin girls were younger. I was sitting alone at breakfast and all of a sudden toys started going off in the living room without anyone even there. Songs, beeping, etc. It was freaky and it made me so happy we didn't have those at our house. In terms of how NOT to end up with toys you don't want. Be direct. Give ideas to good friends and family. Limit the number of people invited to birthdays. You don't have to be rude if someone gives a toy outside your comfort zone, but then just let the batteries die and never replace them :)

In terms of Legos...I used to agree with you. I had Legos as a kid and loved them. I thought modern Legos were overly complex in terms of the pieces. Duplos I never liked, but the Legos are an obsession for both me and my son. We study different sets and look for all the creative ways they use the same little specialty pieces. We don't keep our sets together after building once. Instead we sort the pieces by general category and then build our own cool creations. I can't believe the ideas he comes up with...very inventive. We practice techniques for using direction changing pieces, how to add detail to a creation, and I could go on and on.



answers from Chicago on

I have been asked to set up a birthday registry at target, which was nice so I could have some control over what toys are coming into my what I would do is have a close friend or family member in on a little white lie and say to everyone "my friend sara will be at jacks birthday and she asked me to set up a birthday registry at target, so I thought everyone would be interested in knowing I set this up. I took him to the store and these are things he chose".

Or hopefully you will get gift receipts.



answers from Minneapolis on

I SOOOO agree! Every time I'm trying to buy a birthday gift for a daycare child, I end up muttering under my breath up and down the aisles at Target, looking for something plain. These toys play by themselves as you walk by them - no child required!



answers from Rapid City on

My granddaughter's favorite toy is the doll house with all the furniture. I remember when I was young we would make our own houses for barbies. Double album covers became walls, rolled up socks were bean bags, kleenex boxes were beds. We would spend hours putting together a house and play barbies for a very short time. My granddaughter puts together her house, using furniture that she has for the doll house. She plays with it for a short time and then we put it away. She also likes games like slapjack, go fish (goldfish is what she calls it) and just a plain dry erase board to draw on. My grandson likes all the whistles and noise but he also likes figuring things out. At the day care I worked for the most used toys was just plain wooden blocks cut up from 2x4 and 2x6 scraps, sanded and varnished. They would spend hours building with those. Maybe if that is what you tell your family would be best, they would listen.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions