Toys are designed to stimulate an inquisitive mind, and all children are curious about almost everything around them. However, because they are all unique individuals, they will respond in different ways or not at all to the same type of toys. No interest in specific toys may simply mean that the toys in question are not stimulating enough for the child at that time.
Any parent will show concern about their naturally curious toddler not showing any interest in playing with toys. Is this just a phase, or could there be some other reason for this unusual behavior?
Babies and toddlers soak up and process so much information about their surroundings that it is virtually impossible for them to get deeply engaged in any specific activity.
In short, they have a very short attention span but will steadily increase as they learn and discover more and more things.
Toys are meant to stimulate these young children, but some will brush them aside mostly because they don’t understand the toy and fail to stimulate them.
If toys are meant to stimulate toddlers, and they don’t, there should be a reason. Let’s take a look at this concern and see if we provide a rational explanation.
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Why toddlers don’t want to play with their toys
Toddlers may not want to play with toys because they all have a short attention span, and the toys may not immediately grab their attention.
Toddlers want to explore and touch everything around them, and they enjoy picking up things and tossing them around. As they get bored with a toy, they may push it aside or start throwing it around.
Children need to learn how to be creative with their toys and how to use them for different purposes.
They need to be taught how to combine different types of toys. For example, combining a ball and a car and re-purpose it as a car that can hold the ball inside.
Listed below are a few reasons why toddlers don’t want to play with their toys:
- Toys are not age-appropriate.
- Your toddler may be overwhelmed with too many toys. Reduce the number of toys and rotate them every few days to refresh playtime.
- You may not be engaged enough in your little one’s playtime.
- The timing could be off. Play to toddlers doesn’t always mean with toys. They may become interested at a later stage.
Playtime is important
A toddler may love cars and the sounds they make, but after a few minutes of playing alone with the cars, he wanders off to the washing machine or some other appliance and begins pushing buttons or turning all the knobs. This is considered normal behavior, so no need to worry.
Toddlers learn new skills through play. They explore different things and exercise their imagination and creativity while they play.
It’s their way of learning about the world around them, and through play, toddlers learn about relationships with other people.
Play is a toddler’s full-time job, and it involves a lot of stimulation of the senses. Your little one will regularly need different toys to play with.
When your toddler wants to play, let them choose the toys because this will encourage having a conversation between you about the toy or game.
Arranging a playgroup with other kids of the same age who have similar interests will teach your little one about being social.
Perhaps kids in the playgroup might bring along different types of toys which may stimulate your little one’s interest. Either way, your toddler gets to play with friends and learns about friendship in the process.
Parent and toddler playtime
You may notice that your toddler will get very creative with toys.
This is mostly because these little people were not properly introduced to the toys, and the operator’s manual was discarded with the wrapper the toy came in.
Jokes aside, parents should play with their toddlers to teach them what the toy can do and how to play with it.
Building blocks and other educational toys will require your help in the beginning, but once your little one catches on, you can be close by to help, and don’t forget to praise your toddler when you’re shown an odd new creation.
By getting involved in early playtime with your little one, you are teaching your child how to play. This also serves as a bonding exercise but more importantly, it caters to our innate desire to interact with other people.
Toddlers are no different; they need a playmate as much, if not more than other people.
Young children learn through play, and interactive toys are very popular but having another person to play with is by far the better option.
Listed below are a few benefits to engaging in interactive play with your little one:
- You encourage healthy brain growth.
- You help your toddler with language and communication skills.
- Develops and promotes social skills and self-confidence.
- Inspires problem-solving skills.
A toddler’s growth and development should be monitored, and playtime with your little one provides the ideal opportunity to do just this.
By being involved, you are teaching your child more than just how to play; you also set behavioral boundaries that contribute to more stable emotions.
By nurturing your little one through creative play, they will learn to share toys. By doing this, you are creating a good foundation that will lead to more virtuous behavior.
This will make it a lot easier for your little one to adjust to a kindergarten environment.
Alternatives to toys
So, your little one shows little interest in conventional toys.
Now before you rush to conclusions, it might be a good idea to try a few alternatives just to see where your little one’s interests lie.
Here are a few things to try:
- Small flashlight: All kids are fascinated with flashlights and it helps with their motor skills as well as learning new words like “on” and “off.”
- Sand and water: Buckets of sand and water being moved or poured into different containers are most kids favorite things to do. It inspires creativity and teaches kids about matter and volume. It also teaches them how to make mud which can used to build things.
- Boxes: Kids love boxes and you can help create a lot of different things out of cardboard boxes. There is a lot of fun to be had for both mom and toddler.
- Imitating mom or dad: children like to dress up to look like mom or dad. The hats and oversized shoes entertain kids for hours.
- Child-safe paint: Get finger painting and help your toddler create a masterpiece of a mess.
- Bean bags: If your little one likes throwing things around then playing bean bag toss at colourful circles or animal pictures stuck on paper plates will be fun. Great for motor skills and also a great learning exercise.
There are many more different activities that you can include in your toddler’s playtime.
You will know what things your little one shows an interest in, so try and encourage play by introducing these things into playtimes.
Do I need to discuss my toddler’s lack of interest in toys with my doctor?
Yes, it’s always a good idea to get a professional opinion on matters concerning your child’s health and development. Each child is unique, so don’t accept generalized reasons and solutions from others. Speak to your doctor first.
I’m a single parent and don’t have the time to play with my little one every day, any suggestions?
It can be tough being a single parent. Spend as much time as possible with your little one and start networking to create a playgroup.
Also, make sure your caregiver is spending quality playtime with your little one. You may have to leave instructions on what type of play your little one likes.
How do I get my little one away from watching cartoons all day long?
Many parents face this very issue. Create times for everything and limit watching cartoons to not more than an hour a day. By setting boundaries, you will help your little one become more confident and emotionally stable.
Children excel within boundaries because it gives them a strong sense of security.
Every child is different and develops at different rates, so there is no standard or benchmark to measure their interest in toys.
Yes, some children may be less enthusiastic about playing with toys than others, and in most cases, it reflects their personality, but all children need playmates.
Parents need to understand that their little ones have no idea how the world works, let alone how to play with toys.
They need to learn all these things, and parents must be there to help their children learn how to play and learn what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.
Create boundaries for your children, but the most important thing you can do for your child is to allow them to be a child.
Play is what children are best at, and when you spend time playing with your little one, you enrich their life.