Our culture pushes abundance, but fewer is better when it comes to toys in your toddler’s playroom. Research supports this: a study compared how children played when offered 4 vs.16 toys in a room. Toddlers who were offered four toys engaged more meaningfully with each toy, playing in a deeper way and spending more time exploring than toddlers who had 16 available toys.
On average, the parents of the toddlers in the study had 90 different toys at home. Montessori has a more minimalist approach, encouraging fewer items* neatly arranged on low shelves with space between each toy. You don’t have to get rid of any toys, you just put some away and bring others out—though this does provide an opportunity to do a little purging and donating. This keeps the toys you do have fresh and interesting for your toddler.
Because some skills can take a year or more to build, and because Lovevery introduces items at the beginning of your child’s range of interest, toys from the baby Play Kits can become new again. Here is a post about the Lovevery baby toys your toddler will enjoy for a second round.
Kylie, mom of three and creator of the How We Montessori blog, knows all about the benefits and logistics of toy rotation.
Here are some of her suggestions for how to rotate toys:
- Arrange around 9 to 12 different items on a low shelf so the child can pick a toy to focus on.
- Put other toys in a closet or somewhere out of reach and view.
- Over the next few weeks or so, pay attention to the objects that attract your child the most and how they like to play with them.
- Your child’s fresh interest in an old toy might surprise you. Sometimes toddlers like to come back to toys that you might think are “too easy.” Toddlers learn through repetition and like to discover new ways to play with old favorites.
- Rotate toys when it feels right—no more than once a week and potentially every few weeks.
- Some weeks you might change just a couple toys, others a few more, depending on how your child is playing and showing interest.
- Some favorites can stay on the shelf for a year or more.
- Your toddler is probably more interested in an “undone” toy, like puzzle pieces separate from their base or the rings from the stacker in a basket near the peg.
- Baskets and containers are good to organize related small pieces. They are also fun for your toddler to practice putting in and taking out.
- You can think about rotating books in the same way.
- Try to do the rotation when your child is not around, keeping favorites in the same place so the change doesn’t feel sudden.
- When we refer to toys, we mean anything your child plays with: this can include a basket of items from nature or your kitchen, a container full of pom-poms, a DIY toy, or craft supplies.