A new study suggests the fewer toys kids have to play with, the better!

Published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, researchers tested 36 kids between the ages of 18 months and 30 months under two conditions—playing with 16 toys and with just four toys—to see if kids would do more with less.

The authors, led by Alexia Metz, a doctoral student at the University of Toledo, concluded that, unsurprisingly, kids who played with four toys played longer with each toy. But kids who played with fewer toys also had “higher quality” play—that is, they played in a greater variety of ways with the limited number of toys than they did when presented with 16 options.

“This suggests that when provided with fewer toys in the environment, toddlers engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively. This can be offered as a recommendation in many natural environments to support children’s development and promote healthy play.”

The philosophy of “less is more” seems intuitive—give kids fewer toys, and they are bound to play with them longer.

It also seems desirable in an age of over-consumption to limit the pile-up of stuff.

But the study suggests that longer play with a toy means more creative play, and that increased time with toys might help kids develop their attention span, which is very fleeting at that age.

Share your comments below

  • It is hard to police though with family and friends buying gifts and passing on hand me downs. I used to rotate them, that way they didn’t get too bored with the same old toys


  • I can agree with that. I think it makes them more creative. Plus they really need time with mum and dad more then lots of toys


  • Less is more and it makes life a lot easier too – less to clean up.

    • There is way too much consumption and toys and other items need to be used and loved and cared for without the need for multiple items.


  • This makes sense to me – but it’s hard to police!


  • I totally agree! And they appreciate each one a lot more


  • I agree. The fewer the toys, the more the imagination kicks in.


  • Just gotta work out how to stop everyone you know buying them toys all the time now!


  • Yes, I totally agree with this too !


  • Yep, I definitely agree with this!


  • Interesting read


  • This makes total sense!


  • After living in a caravan my kids have only had few toys. There imagination has grown.
    I have forwarded this article to my sister. I think she will benefit from reading the article. Her place looks like a childcare. Thank you


  • I always found that my kids played with the same toys over and over no matter how many they had. I used to bring out a tub and change it over every week with new toys.


  • Interstesting study but I can relate to that too and always noticed that my toddler out of the whole box that’s full of toys he only picks 3 favourite ones that he plays with everyday a truck a smallmatchbox and a little train


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