Let toys be toys: 10 gender neutral toys for children this Christmas

Earlier this year Super Girl exclaimed she no longer liked pink, anything sparkly or girly. She was so affronted when she was given Lego Friends, all she wanted was Lego. This has made me think about how toys are subject to gender stereotype marketing that packages up pink, sparkly stuff for girls while boys are directed towards the construction, building, and superhero toys. Reading about gender stereotype marketing has made me reflect on my approach to buying this year’s Christmas presents for the children, and whether I can buy gender neutral toys for both children.

Let toys be toys

The Let Toys Be Toys campaign site makes for interesting reading, championing a change in attitudes to how toys are marketed and sold to children. They have been in touch with a number of retailers, urging them to rethink how they display and market their toys to children.

Does gender stereotype marketing matter?

If fact it does.

  • Kids should decide for themselves what they think is fun. Why put these limits on play?
  • Play matters. Children need a wide range of play to develop different skills
  • Marketing matters. Directing consumers in this way is restricting children’s play
  • The real world  has moved on. These gender stereotypes are tired and out of date

Seriously does it really matter how toys are marketed?

  • Gender stereotype marketing can connect with the inequalities we see in adult life.
  • By the time children reach their later primary school years they have a clear idea of what jobs boys can do and what girls can do. These beliefs can be hard to shake
  • You only have to read the research done by the Girl Guiding Association to understand how girls as young as seven are under pressure to be pretty
  • Attitudes towards boys are fixed too. Toys for boys tend to be action, construction, rough and tumble. Boys who are naturally drawn towards creative, calmer activities can be hindered by negative stereotyping

Source: Let Toys be Toys

10 gender neutral toys for children this Christmas

I’ve done a round-up of gender neutral toys for children for Christmas and some of these will be winging their way to under our tree this year.

1. Immy Zig Zag Tee Pee

original_immy-zigzag-play-teepee

Every kid needs a hide-away, a little secret den to cook up fantastic plans to raid the biscuit tin. I love the Immy Zigzag Play Teepee, Designed By Nobodinoz. It can be used indoors, and outdoors (perfect for secret picnics maybe even midnight feasts) or for catching some shade on the beach.

The Immy Zig-Zag tent is made from 100 per cent cotton, base 128cm, height 150cm.

Not  on the High Street: Immy Zigzag Play Teepee: £98.00

2. Omy Design and Play Giant Polouring poster

giantposter

I’ve seen lots of these in Paris toy shops. I’ve got my eye on the OMY Design and Play Giant Colouring Poster London, both my kids are missing home. This will be a great way of bringing a bit of London to Paris, and the kids can decorate their London scene during the holidays. This is definitely going under our Christmas tree.

As well as London, there is are posters of New York, the cosmos, magic and they also do colouring place mats.

Giant posters are 1.14m x 0.80m

Amazon: OMY Design and Play Giant Colouring Poster London £12.00

3. Make your own dinosaur chocolate lollipops

dinosaur-chocolate

My kids love chocolate, as soon as chocolate is mentioned their eyes light up and they become delirious with delight. I just love these little kits from Chocolate At Home, get sticky in the kitchen cooking up a cholocate stegosaurus and triceratops and decorate them with strawberry, lemon, orange and white chocolate buttons.

Chocolate at Home: £13.95 for a kit of five lollipops

4. Inflatable roller wheel

giant-roller

This is a super awesome inflatable roller. I just wish we had a garden, this would be perfect for my children to help them de-stress, help their sensory awareness, improve their coordination, and have fun!

The inflatable roller can be used indoors and outdoors (grass only), for children up to 5 stone, 7 pounds or 36kg).

Science Museum shop: £45.00

5. Mon Petit Art

mon-petit-art

Mon petit art has some beautiful products for little kids and big kids. I’ve never seen this range in the UK but they are really popular here in France, little theatres, coloring books, origami. Each is beautifully designed. I’ve got my eye on one of their lovely notebooks this Christmas.

I’ve picked out the Mon Petit Art construction kit, for little ones to build secret dens, hideaways tunnels. Great for the imagination, and great when you are stuck indoors. The kit contains six giant panels 50x50cm to join with 64 connectors.

Mon Petit Art hideaway construction kit: €73.33

6. Marble skate park

marble-city

I’ve really fallen for this site, Uncommon goods, and I adore this build your own marble skate park. It looks like so much fun, and anything that gets little hands and minds constructing is just brilliant. This is a STEM toy, introducing kids to the concept of engineering. The skate park is made out of wood.

Uncommon Goods: £25.50

7. Build your own ukulele

original_diy-ukelele-kit

Another build your own toy, this time the  Frolic and Cheer Do It Yourself Ukulele Kit, a great way to get children interested in music, and strumming away in their bedroom. This kit is made from unfinished wood, includes body, neck, string, keys and all the other bits.

Not on the High Street: Frolic and Cheer Do It Yourself Ukulele Kit: £39.99

8. A personalised superhero cape

superhero-cape

What about a personalised superhero cape for your little incredible? The kit contains a cape, cuffs, mask and super powered belt. The superhero capes are designed by the Dorset-based, family run business, Lou Brown Designs. Your little one can let their imagination run riot as they unleash their superpowers. ‘Cos girls can be super heroes too!

Etsy: £25.00

9. Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty

foxfire-phantom-thinking-putty-tin-10cm

This stuff is just fabulous. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is great for fidgety fingers, pull, stretch, knead the putty and then find yourself calming and relaxing. Some change colour (heat sensitive), there’s liquid glass putty (now that’s magic!), glow in the dark putty and even gold putty. Wow, what a fantastic  stocking filler! Yes I’ll have that for my two!

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty: from £9.99

10. Vilac, Toby the Pullalong Dog

vilacpullalongdog

 

Adopting our little pup (not so little now), Lucius or Mr L was one of the best things we did this year. I’m not advocating getting a puppy for Christmas, but I do love this  Vilac, Toby the Pullalong Dog
the whole range of wooden toy pullalong dogs are adorable.

There’s something really comforting about a solid wooden toy, that sets itself apart from all the electronic gadgetry and wizardry we can buy today.

Amazon: Vilac, Toby the Pullalong Dog £35.00

This curated content post has affiliate links, which means could I receive a bit of money if you make a purchase using the above links. Prices correct at time of publication, quoted prices do not include P+P.

I want you to know that I only affiliate link to products I use, love, adore and want myself. Any money made will probably go towards my chocolate and red wine habit! 

Picture credits: Not On The High Street, Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, Etsy, Uncommon Goods, The Science Museum, Mon Petit Art, Chocolate at Home, Wacky Stuff – courtesy of Flickr

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69 Comments

  1. Brilliant post! This always bothers me and I agree that toys should be toys, and it is up to the child to choose. I love these gift ideas, the roller wheel looks like so much fun, I want that for myself!! #SharingtheBlogLove
    yvonne recently posted…German Christmas MarketsMy Profile

    • Thanks for checking out the gift guide. I just wanted to find some toys that weren’t pink or blue. I love the roller wheel too! I think it’s so brilliant!

  2. My little boy loves his cars and trucks and my Barbie. He also loves his Dinosaurs and tractors, his play kitchen and my pink ukulele. I don’t see the issue. If the toys make them happy and they are learning what on does it really matter. Great post. #sharingthebloglove
    Jaki recently posted…My 10 Favourite Christmas SongsMy Profile

    • Thank you, exactly! Toys are just that, toys, so let them have fun with cars, trucks, dolls, pushchairs – as you say whatever makes our kids happy!

  3. I love this list. My son also loves a wide range of toys, and his favourite colours at the moment are yellow and pink. He asked for pink sparkly shoes the last time we had to buy new trainers, but his Nan wasn’t keen and as she was paying I had to respect that. I’ve promised him his next set of shoes I buy (not the expensive clarks kind but more the George backup pairs!) whether they are wellies or pumps or slippers etc will be whatever colour/theme he wants. xx #sharingthebloglove

    • It’s wonderful that you’re going to let your little boy enjoy a bit of pink in his life, nothing wrong with that at all. It’s can be harder for people to understand if they have more traditional views about what girls and boys ought to be playing with. I bet he can’t wait for his next pair trainers!

  4. I agree, I hate that there are the gender stereotypes for toys, and the fact they bring out pink/blue versions and then a gender neutral one, just bring one product out that will serve any child. So many little girls I know only have an array of pink toys! I think it’s so important for children to play with any toy, boys with dolls and kitchens and girls with cars and trains! #sharingthebloglove
    Louise recently posted…Baby Print Christmas CardsMy Profile

    • I so agree. It’d be great for manufacturers and retailers to see to see toys just as toys and market them to girls and boys.

  5. It is hard to get away from gender stereotyping but these are a great choice of toys. I love the inflatable roller wheel. Might have to get one for the grandchildren in the summer
    #SharingtheBlogLove
    suz recently posted…My Top Five Laughs this weekMy Profile

    • I know it’s so hard to get away from stereotyping, girls are always pushed towards the pink sparkly stuff and boys the more rugged construction stuff. These toys are just about fun, regardless of whether you’re a girl or boy. I love the inflatable wheel too! I’d like to get this for our kids when we get back to our house in the UK.

  6. I love the concept behind this. It’s so important that children are empowered to be themselves and make their own choices, and not feel limited by stereotypes. The inflatable wheel looks fab! #sharingthebloglove

    • Thank you so much for you wonderful comment. I totally agree, and I love the inflatable wheel too!

  7. My girls play with all toys, especially Holly she is more drawn to cars and garages. I wonder where it will be in a few years time as they get older. I love that giant poster my girls would love this when they are older. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

    • Thanks Laura for your comment. That giant poster is on our Christmas list along with the putty. Hopefully keep kids entertained for an hour or two!

  8. Very nice compilation. Some really unique toys there. A couple of options on Camping Toys would make it even more great :).

  9. To be honest it’s not something I’ve really noticed or paid much attention to probably because of my buying habits. Having heard from a number of bloggers that this is what they’ve discovered it was great to see how one baby/young child company approached their Christmas brochure. I’m not sure what the colourful hair was all about though. #SharingtheBlogLove

    • The marketing can be quite subliminal but it’s there. I’m glad so many people are challenging it. One commenter has mentioned that Mothercare have “Just released a campaign in their new catalogue that crushes the gender gap and shows images of boys playing with their dolls and pushing prams” @rockandrosesmama.wordpress.com

      That’s so awesome! Thanks for your comment!

  10. Great post! I completly agree with your thoughts on gender stereotyping in toys and have seen a number of comments on social media and posts around this by other parent bloggers in the last year. It feels like some kind of movement around this is starting and it is probably about time too. My daughter likes toys that are targetted towards girls and boys and we encourage her interest in both as there is no reason why she should play with one or the other. I love this list and can see many things on it that would appeal to our little one 🙂 Thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • I think there is a bit of a movement gathering speed around gender-neutral parenting and gender neutral toys. I think this is great as we shouldn’t pigeon-hole our kids either way. The more exposure children have to a range of toys the better it is for all of them.

  11. So refreshing to see that other parents believe that fun is fun, no matter what color! This coming from a momma that has two glitter girls, and only recently wear pants (by choice!). Great post, and I am looking into some of these toys now! <3 <3 #bigpinklink
    Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…Taciturn Thursday? My Explorer KidsMy Profile

    • Thank you! Only last year Super Girl was all pink and glitter, but now doesn’t want anything to do with that, she may go back that way, but I want it to be her choice. And it just seems to be the ‘boys’ toys are always way more fun!

  12. That inflatable wheel is brilliant. N was mostly interested in ‘boys’ toys – tractors etc, but he loved ding shopping games and pushing round my old pushchair. #sharingthebloglove

    • I love that wheel too! I wish they’d do one for grown ups! That’s so great N plays around with a pushchair – it nurtures his nurturing side which is fab.

  13. I think the last thing we need around here is a ukulale but I’m a big believer in getting rid of gender labeling for toys. My daughter plays with whatever she wants to, usually from the boys section. #brilliniantblogposts

    • Hey a ukulele isn’t for everyone! My little girl is eschewing girl labelled toys. Toys just need to be toys.

  14. My son is still at the stage where he’ll play with anything – he loves his cars, but he also loves his play kitchen, tea set, and dolls. I try to let him play with anything he shows an interest in, but I do wonder how that might change in future when he’s a bit older and starts to notice what his peers think. I love these ideas – the teepee and the superhero cape are fabulous! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…#SharingtheBlogLove #23My Profile

    • That’s great that your son loves his cars and his kitchen, it’s just a case of exposing him to a variety of toys to play with. But you are right, when peer pressure comes along it’s harder to for kids to maybe choose toys they’d really like to play with as opposed to toys they think they should be playing with. So start them young on a variety of toys.

    • I think kids will go through different phases. When Super Girl arrived she really was Little Miss Pink, but now want’s nothing to do with that anymore. It’s just the industry around us has decided all things pink, pretty and sparkly has to be for girls and all things build, construct, rough and tumble are for boys. Toys mean fun and should be available for all kids!

  15. I love this… although i don’t care much for the gender stereotyping or finding gender neutral toys. My little man will be opening an Anna from Frozen doll on Christmas Day as he adores her! I know some may think that buying ymson a doll will be controversial but i think its great! Mother care have just released a campaign in their new catalogue that crushes the gender gap and shows images of boys playing with their dolls and pushing prams… love it! Men need to be fathers and know how to look after babies too right?! Love ghat your little Super Girl has started loving ‘boyish’ things… Im a very muscular woman and get told frequently how i ‘need a man to carry that surely’ at work… its laughable! Everything is gender neutral in my eyes <3 LOVE the giant poster to colour! We already have a monochrome teepee here too… they're gorge! #brilliantblogposts

    • Thank you for your lovely comment! That’s so brilliant that you’re little boy will be opening an Anna doll – it’s what he loves so, so what! And wow Mothercare have done wonders. Here in France, it’s totally gender stereotyping, princesses for girls, soldiers and superheroes for boys, and no one questions it at all! So bravo Mothercare!

  16. This is so useful! We tried to go as gender neutral as possible and my daughter has still ended up with an awful lot of pink and fluffy things!

    Some of these gift ideas are brilliant – the teepee is gorgeous, and I love the build your own marble skatepark! My daughter would particularly like the chocolate dinosaur kit x

    • Thank you so much! I am so glad you liked my selection – I just based it on what my kids would most probably like.

  17. Totally agree! And pleased to see your kid fighting gender-stereotyping from such an early age on her own 🙂 Both genders should get exposure to building toys, and I’m keen to make sure Little Bear gets to play with dolls and other traditionally female toys because he should get the chance to develop caring and empathetic skills too #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Thank you so much and bravo for you for doing this. Toys just need to be toys, and all kids need equal exposure, it will make the world a better place!

    • I know. And it starts from the time kids are born the gender conditioning. I’m glad there is a campaign to try and address it.

    • I so agree with that, the subliminal messages are so powerful and can have lifelong impact. Thanks for your comment.

  18. I like your list. Chocolate dinosaurs would be good prezzie for half my grown up friends let alone kids and the marble skate park thing is right up partner’s street. #bloggerclubuk

    • Awesome! I think the choccie dinosaurs are fab and if your partner wants a skate park – well why not! We’re all kids at heart!

  19. Oh I love these suggestions!! The giant flooring poster is awesome, and the skate park is brilliant-I know my children would love that! They’ve also wanted a tipi for ever…! I hate the stereotyping around toys-much of the time, my boys are drawn towards what would stereotypically be called ‘boys’ toys. But my eldest, more gentle child, also lives my little pony, and dolls/prams. The comments we’ve had, especially from grandparents, have been really annoying!! Such a good campaign, to try and end toy stereotyping.
    #bigpinklink
    This Mum’s Life recently posted…All I Want For Christmas!My Profile

    • Thank you! I love a teepee too! I’m getting the giant poster for my kids, lots of therapeutic colouring in to keep ourselves calm! It’s great that you let your son play with toys that he wants to play with, and so what if it’s My Little Pony, dolls and prams. It can be hard for some relatives who have been brought up on the stereotypes and the beliefs can be hard to shake.

  20. You had me at tee-pee. I had one as a child and loved it. It was my garden hideaway.

    Good suggestions though I’m mixed over the build your own ukelele that costs more than a basic one!

    #BloggerClubUK

    • Thanks for your comment, I’d have loved to have had a teepee as a kid. Every child needs a secret hideaway!

  21. You are right, kids are put under pressure to conform and its not healthy. Gender sterotype is awful and because the toy market is so saturated it can have a negative impact on children. These gender neutral toys look great!

    • Thank you! I’m all for children making their own choices as to what they play with, we don’t have to have toys marketed to girls or boys.

  22. I am also very keen on gender neutral toys – that inflatable wheel looks amazing and a great way to burn off some steam!

    • Aww brilliant, your girls are going to have so much fun. I’d have loved to have had one as a kid.

  23. I so agree with you. Sometimes though I wonder, are we over-thinking things? When T was little, she didn’t really care (still doesn’t) about gender-stereotyped toys. She liked (still does occasionally) playing with cars and trains. We bought her cars and trains too. At the moment, she loves role-playing games with her dolls and has asked a Baby Alive doll (I blame those American videos she loves watching! 😉 Was hesitant to get her one, was worried about what I was imparting to my daughter. Then again I thought, you know what there’s nothing wrong with wanting to pretend to be a mummy. I love being a mum. She also enjoys reading books and just doesn’t play all the time. So yep, not worried there. Like you said, kids will play with the toys they want to play with 🙂 Sorry for the long comment 🙂 xx
    Dean of Little Steps recently posted…Christmas Gift Suggestions for your Little Book Worms (ages 6+)My Profile

    • I love a long comment – thanks for taking the time to respond.

      My little girl has gone through a number of phases, playing with babies, tea sets, now it is train sets, but she loves a bit of My Little Pony as well as cars. Sure there’s nothing wrong with wanting to play mummies, but these toys will be directed towards girls. Toys need to be made available to all kids not necessarily packaged up for a particular gender.

    • The Let Toys be Toys campaign are doing some really interesting stuff with UK retailers and seems to have made some headway. I think it’s a great campaign and deserves more publicity!

    • Let’s face it they are toys and toys are for all kids, that’s so brilliant! Thanks for sharing that!

  24. This is really interesting. I have done my best to keep my daughter’s toys gender neutral, but she already shows a real interest in hair brushing and grooming, which feels like she might veer towards Barbie… I’d be happy for her to, but I hope she’d play with other things too. #bigpinklink

    • You can keep exposing her to other toys, my daughter loved all the pink stuff, but now she prefers toys that are considered ‘boy-ish’ but having said that we went to a birthday party at Claires and she loved all the glittery stuff. It’s just about having equal access to all toys.

  25. Thanks for this, it’s something that has bothered me ever since my daughter was born 4 years ago. Both of my girls are encouraged to play with what they want, whether that be ‘girly’ toys or ‘boyish’ toys, but I agree that marketing has an awful lot to answer for. Definitely let the toys be toys, why restrict our kids to only 50% of the available opportunities based on their gender!? #MarvMondays
    Laura, The Seasonal Child recently posted…Muddy Monday #9 – Play in The Autumn Leaves – Tick!My Profile

    • Thank you! I completely agree, toys should be toys regardless. Super Girl started out loving everything pink and sparkly – but now she prefers toys that are considered ‘boyish’ but so what – it’s her choice. I find the whole subtext to gender marketing so very interesting and the messages given out to our kids.

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