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I hate ‘girl’ toys

When I started writing this I was going to write a post about how all ‘girly’ toys were boring and dangerously stereotypical. How, when I was shopping for a small present for my almost one-year-old girl all I found were tiny vacuum cleaners, microwaves and baby dolls. I was going to ask the question: “what am I telling my little girl about being female if I just give her cleaning appliances, cooking utensils or a baby for her very first birthday?”

I was also going to whinge about how ‘boys’ toys are all exciting and adventurous – train sets, fire engines and dump trucks.

But then I remembered what we gave my son for his first birthday … a mower.

Don’t get me wrong, he loves mowers. When we go to the hardware store he sits on them with as much excitement as if they were a carousel at a local fair. Plus the mower fitted the description at the time – we wanted an outdoor toy and something he could push as he was still learning to walk.

But isn’t a mower just the “male” equivalent of a “vacuum cleaner”? Mowing isn’t exactly exciting. It is just another chore.

So maybe my problem isn’t a problem with ‘girly’ toys … maybe I’m just overthinking these things because she is a girl – and because I am a girl. And because I think too much.

Maybe it’s because I think it’s extremely important for her to know that she can choose to be whatever she wants to be (and if she chooses to be a cooking, cleaning mother then, of course, I’m all for that!).

But what about my son? Am I assuming that he will automatically grow up knowing he can be whatever he wants to be, no matter how many toy gardening tools he has? Is that why I bought him a mower without a second thought as to whether it would impact on his perception of gender roles? Why wasn’t I concerned that by giving him a mower I was somehow telling him that boys are only good for doing outside chores?

And when did shopping for birthday presents become so complicated?

Oh and for the record … I did buy her a ‘girly’ toy (as well as clothes and a book). We have enough boy toys, baby toys and gender-neutral toys. We have trucks, trains, dinosaurs and cars. We’ve got Lego, puzzles, a blackboard and a water table. We’ve got stuffed toys. We’ve got musical instruments. We’ve got blocks, balls and bath toys. There’s even a mini-trampoline that lives in my bedroom due to lack of space.

What we don’t have is ‘girly’ toys.

So, now we do. We have a tea set. It is blue, green and red. And she’ll love it. And her brother will probably love it too. May they have many enjoyable chats over a cuppa just like their mum and dad do.

Have your say:
Do you worry about what their toys are teaching your children? Do you find girls' toys boring? What IS the perfect gift for a one-year-old?
What do YOU think? Let us know.

Rebecca Galton

About Rebecca Galton

Rebecca is the Bub Hub’s website editor. She is also mother to three small, but growing, children. In her spare time she … who are we kidding, she has no spare time! ...

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15 comments so far -

  1. I HATE all the pink. I like the colour- I hate how few affordable non-pink options there are! And I have how my daughter always WANTS the pink one but she wants to…so c’est la vie!

  2. Maybe if the “girly” toys weren’t pink it wouldn’t be such an issue. I’m impressed you could find a tea set that wasn’t pink! Boys love prams and tea sets just as much as girls and I think more parents would buy them for their sons if they weren’t pink. I like giving my girls toys they will enjoy, but I would prefer it if they weren’t all in a shade of pink. For the record we also have dinosaurs, lego, etc.
    Our local toy library is fantastic – the toys there are chosen deliberately for their play value, without gender bias or any ‘merchandising’ brands. It means I can give my children opportunities to play with all sorts of toys. 🙂

    • So true. I’m so over pink! This is a very cool tea set from one of my favourite shops and it is blue and white with some red and yellow and green too. Of course there’s a pink version too. But we’ve got enough pink stuff!

  3. I just bought my son a doll for his birthday. I had bought some handmade dolls for my little girl for Christmas / birthday presents & also gave her a small doll to play with now. My son loved her doll. He loves soft toys in general & his bed is full of them.

    He is into superheros at the moment so I got him a boy doll with a Batman & Spiderman costume to dress it in. I know he will love it.

    My daughter is into anything that makes noise or moves at the moment so her dolls will probably be used more by her brother for now.

    My son loves to help me push my daughter in her pram & he will push a toy pram around if there is one available. It doesn’t bother me at all. After all kids just want to copy what adults do. They don’t care if it’s a girl thing or a boy thing they just want to be like us.

  4. When I was a girl I hated dolls. All my relatives kept giving me dolls and even when my litle brother and I executed all the dolls by cutting their heads off, they still kept giving me dolls. I couldn’t understand why my brother got fun toys and just got dolls. On the other hand, some little girls love dolls. I guess you just have to work out what your child likes and is interested in and go from there. My little girl will be exposed to all sorts of toys and I’m interested to see whether she likes dolls or not!

  5. I bought my 3yo son a doll to give him at the birth of baby number 2. He was adamant he was getting his own new baby at hospital too so I didn’t want him to be disappointed. 2 years on my now 5yo son still loves his doll. She currently resides in his sisters room but they both know and respect that she belongs to him. He still likes to put her n his little pink pram and fly around the back yard with her. Hold on dolly!!!

    Equally I have been buying my daughter a whole host of Thomas engines because she loves them and we had none in the house because my son never liked him much.

    As a general rule of thumb I buy my son boyish toys and my daughter girly toys purely because that’s where their interest lye. But when picking a new toy the first question I ask myself is “what will they love!”

    My 5 yo son came home from Grandmas on the weekend as happy as a pig in mud because he’d scored a new set of makeup and nail polish!!!

    For Christmas my son is getting a Lego Rocketship and my daughter is getting a big dolls house, they will each be over the moon with their own present but I know that they will also be playing with eachothers toys and I love that. A well rounded child is best in my opinion!!

  6. For this very reason I started my own toy store to cater to fun, creative and educational toys rather than the standard licensed stuff you get in the majors. I’m a mum to 3 boys and realised without a sister they were going to miss out on a whole range of toys that would have otherwise been available to them to play with. is my passion and even though the title suggests it’s only for boys my website caters to all tastes and interests! And FYI I stock the De’Longhi Coffee set which is blue and white and perfect for every playroom be it boy, girl or mixed equation! But by far my favourite toy is the gorgeous Boyo Blue Boy Doll toy, it smells of the most fantastic vanilla, is machine washable and simply the cutest boy doll around!!!

  7. They make a toy-version of EVERYTHING these days. Who ever heard of toy vacuum cleaners or toy lawn mowers back in our childhood days?

    My 20-month old son’s favourite toy is a cooking set of little pots and pans (and it happens to be pink… oh dear!). Perhaps one day he’ll want to identify himself with ‘boy toys’ vs. ‘girl toys’. But for now, he’s happy playing with whatever he has. Cars, trucks, cooking/tea sets, and everything else in between 🙂

    • You know what? I actually DID have a toy vacuum cleaner when I was about one or two! how weird. And in no way did it inspire me to want to vacuum more now! I think I just wanted to do what the grown-ups did (and to be honest my dad probably vacuumed a lot too).

  8. Toys are something like tht ur child should enjoy them and learn from them.. And i think 1 to 3 yrs there are no differences between girls and boys toys.. My 1 yr old girl enjoys wd her learning toys and also likes to play wd cars and horses and dolls n babies too.

    • I agree. My two will play with anything and I’m so happy to have a variety of toys here that they can play with. The Toddler played with The Baby’s teaset for two hours non-stop (honestly, two hours!) while she had her nap on her birthday. He just made us cup of tea after cup of tea…

  9. Hey at least the tea set wasn’t pink! That’s a start! I have a boy but I grew up with only two brothers and I never owned a Barbie so I am kind of in the ‘girls toys are boring’ camp. I like computer games and x-box. I think it’s hard to escape this stereotypical world that we live in. I try not to think too much about it too much. I guess children that grow up with the opposite gender sibling are a bit luckier in that they will probably be more exposed to different ‘gender’ toys. Eg. I wouldn’t go out and buy my son a doll but if he had a sister he might experiment and have a play with one and I wouldn’t stop him.

    Gosh, I’m rambling. Better stop there.

    • I was thinking the same thing – it is one of the perks of being a child with siblings of the opposite gender. If I hadn’t had a brother I may never have had the hours and hours of fun I had with Lego…

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