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Why science says having less toys is better for learning and playing

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Parents often buy too many toys and end up with a cluttered nursery. While it may seem like it’s a good thing to offer your child more options for playing, science actually tells us that having less toys is more productive. 

Researchers gave one group of children 4 toys and another group 16 toys to play with. They found that the group with 4 toys spent more time exploring each toy and engaged in more meaningful play compared to the 16 toys group. What’s surprising is that the parents in the study had on average 90 toys at home! 

Here are some Montessori-inspired tips to save space and reduce clutter

  1. 1. Put 8 to 10 toys on a low shelf at any given time for your child to play with. Put the remaining toys away. 

  2. 2. Rotate the 8 to 10 toys depending on your child’s development. If you notice that some toys are getting too easy and boring, switch it out for a different one. 

  3. 3. Don’t put a toy away just because your child doesn’t seem interested. Sometimes, it takes a few exposures to warm your child up to the toy. You can also try playing with them to show them how it works. 

  4. 4. Try to rotate a maximum of once a week. Some toys may stay there for a couple months at a time. 

  5. 5. Rotate toys when your child isn’t around so they don’t feel like you are changing something drastically. 

  6. 6. You can keep small toys/multiple parts in a basket to help with organization. 

  7. 7. Rotate books the same way! 

You might be surprised that your child comes back to an old toy once they’re older. We often see this with our kits- children will discover new ways to play with things that may seem ‘too easy’. If you start at our 0 to 2 month Early Learning Kit and go all the way to 24 months, you end up with roughly 45-50 toys and 20-25 books (just half the amount of parents in the study!). On top of that, each toy is already tailored to your child’s specific age and needs so there will be no toy that is tossed aside. 

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