Toys are for fun, for happily occupied kids and for adults not-so-secretly reliving a carefree childhood. They are for shared moments and for learning about things without being aware of learning.
There are extremes in our approach to buying toys for babies and children. Some parents are as childlike as their offspring, buying too many things because they can afford to have what wasn’t available twenty years ago. They may also think that exciting, electronic toys are effective baby minders, buying them some peace, if not the quiet! Others see toys as serious tools in the hothouse challenge, every toy carefully chosen to give their child the educational edge. There are dangers in both approaches. One can teach children to be easily bored and greedy with little respect for the value of possessions, and the fiercely educational approach can add stress and disappointment when the child fails to respond. Even if we are not nurturing a prodigy, there are so many experts telling us which toys a baby should have, suddenly toys aren’t for fun any more.
Life without toys at all is quite possible, it is well documented that babies and children are capable of finding fun in the most simple household objects. But that is unnecessarily harsh when there are so many wonderful reasonably priced toys available. The key is to strike a happy medium. Enough toys for fun, excitement and education. Enough quiet and space and opportunites for children to use their imagination and learn how to be content without constant stimulation.