Saturday, August 3, 2013

Your baby and child don't need toys

Your baby and child don't need toys:
By Naomi Aldort
Author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

Our babies are best off with human connection and with nature and the arts. Everything else seems to me like a substitute and less than the best, so I examine it carefully. Is this toy developing the baby’s intelligence? How can you know? You don’t. You know they want to sell it to you and that’s the real motivation behind marketing of toys and most products. This is all you can know. Your baby or child may master that toy and it looks complicated and requires brain power. But what it does to the total development you cannot know. You can use things; I only suggest not to believe in their value. 

Your baby does not need toys. Your child does not need toys. Toys did not exist until recent history. I grew up with one stuffed monkey that was repaired a couple of times, a couple of board games, a ball (for a limited time) and a rope. I did have a piano and attended classical music concerts. My best childhood memories are of pretend games with my brother, outdoor games with neighborhood kids with sticks, ball, acting, running and imagination, singing and dancing. These things are nature/God’s brain developing plan. Can we top it with substitutes? I doubt it.

The industry wants to sell their products. More rooms (one for each child which is more furniture, toys etc), more gadgets, more things and even artificial experiences. Many of these make children more addicted and dependent on external stimulation and less self-reliant.

I invite you to go “raw” with parenting. Raise your own child directly, with eye contact, talking, reflecting, singing, listening to music, dancing, acting, touching the earth, smelling its aroma, sitting in a puddle getting messy, gazing at a butterfly and laughing together for no reason at all. 

Notice that the most joyous moments of your life are when you are with those you love; connected and surrendering to the moment.

You want your child to know so much. Why? So he will be happy! But he is already happy. Be with his happiness so he can keep this joy alive and familiar. Why train the baby out of her natural inclination for being exuberant and thriving on human connection? We don’t need anything. Nature didn’t goof nor missed anything. It gives us for free the greatest joy of all in every moment.

Sure, use gadgets and modern comforts as much as you want. But when you remember that you don’t really need any of it for you to be happy, you are free to enjoy life in the moment. Don’t believe anything! And, empower your children not to believe anything. 

Without believing that your baby and child need toys or other stimulation, you save money and you spend more time relaxing and enjoying your child.
(You don’t need to spend time to earn as much money; you spend less time on shopping and on cleaning; more time with your child.) 

If your child could be an adult for a minute and reflect back to you about her own childhood, she would say, “I wish you spent more time with me.” No need to feel guilty for any kind of substitute you do use; only to cherish the moments that you do have with your child and know: YOU are the best and most educational “toy” your baby and child have.

©Copyright Naomi Aldort


  1. Toys go back to ancient civilizations. They have been found in pyramids, buried at Stonehenge, and found in archaeological digs from ancient humans.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Yes, home made in tiny quantities. Today children are bored of one toy and we get another and end up with a room full. We shake toys in front of babies instead of singing, eye contact, hugging and rocking. Young children are occupied with toys where they used to engage with humans, with nature, and creating play things on their own.

      I am not saying to eliminate all toys, only to realize that they are not a need, so that we focus on the need for human connection, creativity, nature, emotional freedom etc (yes, also freedom from dependency on external stimulation through toys, gadgets and entertainment). Understanding this takes the toys away from being a focus and an endless drive and allows us engage with the child instead of running to the mall for more toys.

      Even as recently as 50-100 years ago, and currently in certain cultures, you would not find in the home whole shelves full of toys. In addition, what you find in old digs are not push button gadgets or toys that one gets bored of in two weeks or much less, but creative things people made with their own hands; crafts and toys that lasted and did not create addiction and did not become the focus of what life is about. A toy can be an addition when it leaves room for imagination, like a plain doll (not one advertising a movie or presenting fads), blocks to build with, wheels, art supplies, musical instruments that do not play on their own, etc. These are not the focus and often used with parents or others rather than instead of being with them.

  2. Yes. Thank you for your comment. And, the toys from old times were made by a parent for a child. One or two toys per child.
    Something existing in old times doesn't mean it is the same. There was food then too but not junk food, addictive foods, too much... same with toys.

    I grew up with a few home made toys. One stuffed money that got repaired. One ball. Two board games. A jump rope. A few wooden blocks and crafts. My brother and I shared a room that had no shelves fool of toys.
    We played outside with sticks and stones, with other children, pretend games, acting, imagination etc.

    In ancient civilizations it was not an industry committed to get children hooked, dependent and away from their own ability to thrive creatively without external stimulation.

  3. Another point is that many of today's toys and gadgets are replacing human contact. So, it is not about throwing all the toys away; they have their use. There are wonderful educational toys that promote creativity, cooperation and joy when they are only part of life. But we want to watch the quantities and qualities and leave toys to be an added spice rather than be most of the menu.

  4. Just because an ancient civilization did it does not make it better. There was also rampant disease, average height was about five foot tall, and thirty five was old age. There was no need for the average person to be literate or able to do anything greater than simple mathematical calculations. Children played with all sorts of things, as they do now. Because they were found objects that does not impart some greater value upon them.

    If you want to make an argument that children should not have toys, and that toys do not improve cognitive development or teach skills needed in a post industrialized world, then you are going to need some studies. It is fairly well established that access to high quality toys, such as blocks and puppets, helps children develop those pre-reading and pre-math skills they will need to succeed. Because of this, I expect it will be difficult to find enough data to refute it.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Thank you Nicole. Your are right about toys that do help with development.
    My point isn't that toys cannot develop the brain, but that they are not a need. The brain can develop as good by playing games
    without material toys; with human beings, nature, music etc.

    I reread the blog... and yes it is lacking in making that point and is too one sided. I have now edited it to make it clear (and I don't know how to republish edited, it may not be possible.) I do not write off all toys, only I want to see parents putting more focus on human connection, learning through relationship; they can learn to count from a toy or by counting with us. I am talking about balance and quality. The toys are not a need. These cognitive skills can be learned without them, with people playing, telling stories, counting, singing etc.

    1. Hi Naomi
      I think you made a wonderful point. I'm going to try some "Raw" parenting tomorrow - just need to find some mud!
      I loved your book and bought copies for all in our family. Our family especially like the Power Playing. Thanks for everything!

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.