I don't believe that it's cool for boys to be encouraged to be tough and rough and strong and girls to be soft and caring and pretty. I'm all over the Let Toys Be Toys campaign and was thrilled to see that Toys R Us have recently taken down their BOYS TOYS and GIRLS TOYS signs in their shops and on their website. It seems like they were living in the stone age with all that gender segregation!
So with this in mind, I've written a little guide of gifts for toddlers that match my 'gender neutral' criteria:
1. Not ENTIRELY pink or blue.
2. Not sold in a shop or website that divides toys by gender.
3. Super fun.
This is a selection of the gender neutral toys my kids will be getting this Christmas (don't tell them!)...
Shine a Light books (and a torch)
The books are available online and in major retailers for between £8 and £12 each. I got my 'gender neutral' torches from the supermarket, where there were pink or blue ones, or these cute lightbulb shaped ones, which fit nicely in their chubby little hands.
Seedling Nature Bingo
from Wild and Wonderful
This nature bingo set is wonderful. The concept is obvious from the name, there are bingo boards with pictures of things to find when you're out in nature (leaf, twig, feather, spiderweb, snail etc) and bits of chalk for crossing off your finds. Simple enough for a toddler and parent to use on their own, or challenging enough for a group of 3-4 year olds to try to "win" at going for a walk! (What is with 3 year olds and winning?! They're obsessed!)
Lia and Luca Dress-up Micefrom Whirligig Toys
When these little mice arrived, I could barely resist the temptation to play with them myself for hours on end. Lia and Luca are adorable little mice with a huge array of great quality tiny clothes to wear and a beautiful wooden box to 'sleep' in and store all their outfits (and their hats. Oh the hats!). I think they will be the stars of Christmas morning (I mean, if the kids don't like them, I'll be playing with them!!)
I love the fact that they will encourage little ones' dexterity and fine motor skills and inspire their imaginations as a story-telling tool. I think my 2 will love them and I'm so pleased that although these mice could easily be pitched to girls they are totally pink free in terms of packaging and the outfits themselves. My older boy is hyper vigilant for things that are "for girls" at the moment, but this will sail right past his gender radar undetected. Also there are two mice! Praise be for toys that there are two of (when you have twins or small age gap kids).
Whirligig Toys say they're always on the look out for gender neutral toys, and they were the first retailers to win the Let Toys Be Toys Toy Standard award. There are branches in Brighton, Chichester and Tunbridge Wells but they sell everything online if you're not nearby. I already have my eye on another toy from them, in the shape of some old school looking shadow puppets!
Castle Building Blocksfrom Lou Lou and Jim Jams Toys
I've been looking for classic wooden building blocks for a while, as my littler son loves making towers, but these Lanka Kade bricks are killing two birds with one stone for me as the older one loves knights and castles. They'll be able to do basic stacking and tower building or create castles for their little people to live in as the mood takes them. I love the fact they are red and orange coloured rather than blue and grey, like most 'knight castles'. I don't have a girl, but I would imagine their "things for boys" radar might be swayed by the gender neutral colouring of these bricks. In my dreams there would be a male and a female 'knight' but seeing as Toys R Us have only just stopped calling dolls "girls toys" I think I've got a long wait for that kind of thing!
Lou Lou and Jim Jams sell a large range of predominantly wooden toys, as well as some gorgeous rag-dolls (of both genders!) online and in their store in Snowdonia.
Sylvanian Families Cosy Cottageavailable from Toys R Us
I used to love Sylvanian Families and vividly remember my mum bribing me with a new family when I had grommits put in! This year, for the 2 year old's birthday (it's 2 days before Christmas) I'm getting him this little house. He will simply go nuts for it. I'm so happy to find a 'dolls house' that is the colour of a house instead of pink! (When did you ever see a pink house? Why are houses PINK? Ergh) He adores playing with little people or animals and will be thrilled to have his own little house to put whatever character he's playing with to bed and in and out of the door.
I'm yet to go into a Toys R Us in real life since they succumbed to pressure to remove Girl/Boy signage. I've heard it's all still very pink and blue, but it's a great step in the right direction (in my opinion) and it's nice to see their toys in genderless catergories on the website.
Hope this has given you some inspiration for the little people in your life and encouraged one or two people to shop outside the girl/boy box this year!
Merry Christmas! xxx
Disclaimer: I was sent all of these items (except the sylvanian families house) for the purposes of this review, all words and opinions are my own.