The gender division of toys is something that parents always complain about, but toy companies continue to perpetuate. “Girly” toys are plastered with pink and involve baking or nurturing, while “boy-ish” toys include something you can shoot, build, or destroy — sometimes all three. And nowhere is it more blatant than at the New York Toy Fair, where some of the big companies literally had separate rooms devoted to boy toys and girl toys.
Even LEGO caused a huge uproar at the beginning of 2012 because of their new girl-focused LEGO Friends collection. (Although that’s one of the least offensive gender-targeted toys of the year, in my opinion. Babble writer Joslyn Gray agrees.)
I think many parents see that boys and girls can have inherent gender preferences — many girls gravitate toward pretty, delicate things, while their boys want to build and knock down. But it’s these neat little boxes with clearly defined borders that parents have a problem with — the blue vs. pink, guns vs. Barbies. Although my 3-year-old son loves dragons and digging and all things construction, he also loves his doll house and is obsessed with princesses and magic wands. And although green and blue are his favorite colors, he’ll just as willingly play with pink and purple toys.
Luckily I found that a lot of the smaller, more independent companies are ditching the traditional boy vs. girl mentality, and just designing quality toys that all kids, no matter the chromosomes, will want to play with. Here are some of our favorite gender-neutral toys hitting shelves in 2012:
Read more of Michelle’s writing at Early Mama.