New research shows giving kids less toys to play with benefits their development

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  • If you’ve ever felt a pang of guilt or horror about throwing away your kid’s toys, new research proves that may actually be doing them a favour.

    According to new research, children who are given less toys during playtime play more ‘creatively’, which can benefit their development.

    Researchers came to that conclusion after testing the theory that ‘an environment with fewer toys will lead to higher quality of play for toddlers’, as published in an article on the academic journal Infant Behaviour and Development.

    The researchers used 36 toddlers to participate in this study and each child was engaged in ‘supervised, individual free play sessions’ under two conditions: the Four Toy session followed by the Sixteen Toy session.

    After watching and studying the kids’ interactions within the sessions, the results showed that when the children had less toys to play with, they were not only far more creative in their play and engaged with their toys in a variety of ways, but they also played with them for longer periods of time.

    Having less toys to play with proved beneficial for children

    The researchers have concluded from their findings that this means that children with less toys often engage with one single toy for a longer period of time which ‘[allows] better focus to explore and play more creatively’.

    ‘This can be offered as a recommendation in many natural environments to support children’s development and promote healthy play’, they added.

    However, this study isn’t saying that a child shouldn’t be allowed more than one toy at one time, but simply that fewer toys mean they have a chance to focus a lot better with what they have rather than being given too much choice and possibly feeling a little overwhelmed.

    One way to practice this at home if your kids already have quite a lot of toys is to only give them a few at any one time. If they appear to lose interest in those, you can swap them over for their other toys you’ve got stashed away.