Keeping Toys Under Control: How Many is Enough?

I recently submitted an article to NewParent.com (a great site for parents!) on the amount of toys that kids have today and how I feel about keeping toys, to a certain degree, at a minimum and not going overboard. It’s of course just my opinion and thoughts on the topic!

Do your kids have a lot of toys? Here’s what we have as far as toys go. I don’t know if this is a little or a lot compared to other people… not that it matters anyways.  This is what works for us right now. I imagine as Lucas gets older so will his desire to play with more toys.

These are the toys in our living room. A basket full of things, a Leap Frog table, and a ride on/play with truck. I just got the Leap Frog table off of craigslist (only $15 in perfect condition!) and we’re probably going to put it in storage for the next kid very soon. Most likely if he gets a new toy for this birthday we will replace it with the table.  He loves his ride on truck. It makes fun noises, you can push it while waking, play with the dump truck or literally sit on it and ride! 

In the basket are some books, a few blocks, soft toys, a wooden airplane, a little trykes truck, a couple musical things… and tupperware. Never underestimate the power of tupperware my friends. 

Upstairs in his bedroom he has these two baskets. One of them has some blocks, a couple cars, puzzle and random little toys. In the other is another wooden (but adorable!) John Deer tractor, a stuffed animal and a few more odds and ends.

I don’t consider book as toys. All his books (that we’re currently reading- we rotate these too!) are on his rain gutter bookshelf in his room.

In his closet are a few older toys that he doesn’t play with right now. We will eventually rotate these out for him to play with when he is ready! 
If he gets any new toys for this birthday, I know he will love them! He is getting sick of some of his toys I think, so we’ll just put a few away in storage. 
So, what about your kids? Do they have a lot? A little? What’s your tip for keeping them under control?  

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

33 thoughts on “Keeping Toys Under Control: How Many is Enough?

  1. Toys are the hardest thing to control in my house. Rotating and spreading them throughout the house is the only way I can manage them. Even with a 2500sqft house, they are everywhere! And with both my girls having a birthday this month, it will only get worse.

    I'm impressed you only have as many as you do for Lucas!

  2. Oh, how I wish we had so few toys! Jordan has ALL the toys Logan was SPOILED with (And I must add, most of them were gifts, not things we bought) plus the stuff people have bought for him. I have started asking people not to get him toys. We did a books-only birthday. I do need to get some storage tubs and rotate stuff out. Actually, I should take some things and donate them because we just have way too many things. It's overwhelming.

  3. I'd love some tips and ideas on organizing and rotating these toys… we have tooooooooo many! I do rotate and have learned that fewer is better, but with that said, the fewer is still too many!!!

  4. We have too many toys. When I say we.. I mean my 15 month old. She has to med/large sized clear bins in our living area and then one in her bedroom full of toys. She has a Mega Blocks wagon w/ 75 mega blocks inside and then a bag of the “girl” colored mega blacks. A radio flyer rocking/bouncing horse, the leap frog table, babies, strollers, cars, books, coloring books and crayons, play-doh, and trains. It's ridiculous. We need to downsize and put things away. But just when I think I should put something away… she's playing with it the next day.

  5. It seriously looks like toys r us threw up all over our house. In my defense, I do have a toddler AND a baby so I have ALL the baby gear(swings, jumperoos, playmats, ec) in addition to teething rings and other baby toys. THEN I have my son's toys. Lots of cars, trucks, trains, books, and a large play kitchen. This is also the only place they have toys. They don't go to daycare or anything. We rotate them around the house(their rooms, living room, etc) so that they're always finding toys that they had kind of forgotten about. Then they play with them for hours like they've never seen them.

    I also have a small addiction to baby/toddler toys/gear. 🙂

  6. Since I have three children the amount of toys is huge.
    My oldest has about 25 action figures (the 4″ size), 3 vehicles to go with those, tons of legos and various other toys.
    My daughter has the most. I think it is mostly cause the baby dolls have so many accessories. She has about 10 dolls (no kidding there), dress up stuff, littlest pet shop, doll house, etc. I am definatly going through her things to weed out before we move!!
    The baby is only 6 months old and so has less, yet still enough. He has about 6 various rattles, a crinkle book, caterpillar toy, shape sorter, excerbouncer, and a few stufties.
    All of the kids have several books, but we prefer to go to the library rather than buy new ones.

  7. Well, I would say Brook has about the same amount of toys as Lucas. We have a nice organizer for them, that way, they stay put up and if she wants a toy, she can go get it herself.

    My husband and I also decided, for birthdays and christmas, she is obviously going to get alot of toys. For both of those holidays, we are going to go thru her toys, with the help of her and take some toys to goodwill. That way, for her birthday or christmas, the toys will be replaced, not added to. If that makes sense….

    That way we will maintain some kind of control over the amount of toys in our home. lol

  8. Well since my daughter is only 5 months old we don't really have a ton of toys. My husband and I don't even plan on getting her a whole lot later though. (We are hoping to find other fun things to play with besides toys, we'll see how that goes) I've heard of people who take half of the toys and put them up then 6 months later when their kids get tired of the one half they switch them out for the ones in storage and it's like getting new toys again.

  9. I realize that I only have a 4 month old, so my views could possibly change, but our plan involves donating toys as new ones come into the house.

    I know that no matter how insistent I am in telling others NOT to buy toys for the little one, it's still going to happen. So, every time he receives a new toy, he will choose a toy to donate to some kind of charity. Hopefully this will be a two-fold lesson: trying to be less materialistic along with instilling a sense of doing something for others. I guess we'll see how well it works!

  10. We have very few toys…

    -1 Jumperoo
    -2 hanging toys on his jumperoo (a octopus and a elephant)
    -4 washable stuffed animals that are small in size
    -3 soft balls that jingle
    -3 cars that are musical
    -1 musical turtle
    -1 carseat toy-a baby einstein whale

    He loves his toys! 🙂

    I just ordered some wooden toys from Haba for him now that he is old enough, and one shape sorter from Plan toys hoping he likes those! 🙂

    Does Lucas like his Melissa and Doug ring stacker? I thought about getting that for Caleb!

  11. I hate toys. Bah humbug, right?? But I do! A few are okay, but I hate all the toys that light up and make noise, they drive me crazy. Ingrid mostly colors, plays with her kitchen set, stuffed animals, and books. I always make a big fuss to family and friends about no toys. We love books and, as she gets older, craft stuff, but enough big honkin' plastic crap 🙂

  12. I think my son has a lot of toys, but I'm always surprised at how many more other people seem to have when we go for playdates so perhaps not.

    I split the toys, all soft and quiet toys go in his bedroom, so they can be used when we're winding down for bed.

    His books are on his own little bookshelf in our livingroom, we seem to have more of these than anything else! The rest of the toys are in a small basket in the space between our open plan living/diving areas, they're usually active or loud toys.

    My main tip for keeping them under control is to give them away. We make a point of giving away toys just before his birthday or christmas, when he's old enough he will be able to choose the toys and we'll be able to have talks about giving to those less fortunate etc.

  13. compared to most of our friends, our baby has NO toys. Nothing. Even with books included. She had a ton of little bat-at baby toys. They are all in a clear zip bag (that once held? something random and I kept it).. anyway, point being, we took those out of circulation. We keep toys in stashes (some in my desk drawer while I am playing on the computer, some in the living room, etc), and rotate them. That worked until she started walking really well and now she drags them everywhere. The other thing is to rotate them once you get 'too many'. If you take longer picking them up than say 5 minutes, you have too many. Get a box, label it toys and cut the toy stash in half. Put it away somewhere. In 2 weeks, go get it, dump it out, and put the other half of the toys in it. They will be 'brand new' every time!

  14. He does not like his M&D toy stacker. He never plays with it… and actually the dog ate off part of the top 🙂

    It's too young for him. He will probably enjoy it as he gets older. A lot of the toys he has he is JUST now playing with. He mostly likes kitchen stuff.

    Forgot to add we had baby toys too, but very very few. He loved his bouncy seat, but we didn't use a swing for more than a couple weeks (he didn't like it)

  15. We have WAY too MANY toys! Part of the problem was that the girls were at different stages in their play, but now that they are liking similar things I am going to do a major purge!

    I do find myself buying them things and I think that sometimes it is because I don't get to spend a ton of time with them during the week, so I buy for them. It's a bad thing, but I am realizing it and correcting that problem.

    I encourage people asking what to buy for gifts to either buy gift cards to allow us to buy them shoes when needed, books, or money for them to deposit to their own bank account (something they both love to do).

    Great article… is that something that you will be writing on a regular basis?

  16. I just had a podcast episode one this VERY topic!
    http://www.anaturaldawn.com/?p=40

    We own VERY few toys. I find that they rarely get enough use to justify the expense…even of used toys! We own a small set of blocks, a few knit toys I made myself, a puzzle, a push penguin, and a broom. I think there are two matchbox cars now as well.

    For the most part, Kaius plays with nature or things he finds while exploring the house.

    I actually DON'T anticipate that we'll ever had much more in the way of quantity until Kaius is MUCH older. Life itself is too entertaining to require toys!

    *what a cutie you have!*

  17. I have tried to be careful to not accumulate too many toys…and I think we do have less than most. But just the other day I was looking around wondering how we managed to have so many toys?!

    I have found some wonderful toys off Craigslist – a wooden plane rocker, wooden wood 'n toot train and wood tractor with utility cart…to name a few. All that for under $50. I consider myself a Craigslist troll…I look every few weeks under baby and kids or toys…just typing in wood or wooden and see what pops up. I'm looking to only purchase classical toys (waldorf style).

    I have asked family not to purchase toys, I would rather they come and visit (flights would be needed, expensive plane trips) I don't want him to think of receiving gifts every time he sees family. My dad does ask what he would want and I give him a list of the toys I am trying to find/buy for my son and he picks what he would like to buy off the list. Then we stay on target with our 'classical' style but my dad can choose what he'd like to buy.

    I am trying to stay away from all character (think Disney, Sesame Street) toys. I read a very interesting book, long before I became pregnant…can't recall the title right now…but it was about consumerism in America and how we are started right from the cradle. Children want Elmo, because they're comfortable with that character…see him on TV etc. My son doesn't watch TV either…which has garnered me a lot of friction with relatives who feel I am depriving him. I felt so vindicated when Disney's Baby Einstein lost the suit. HA!

    Sorry for the LONG post…guess I needed to vent! Thanks =)

    Two toys I have been very happy with: Plane toys cone stacker (on sale now at Land's End) and Tag Toys Sorter ( I didn't want to spend $40 for a sorter, but it was the only one I could find where the respective shapes ONLY fit in their respective slots!Made in USA too!)

  18. Oh, so I don't sound like a total scrooge…I have told family if they do want to buy something for him I certainly wont keep it from him =)

    And Samantha you had asked about the playsilks and I haven't purchased mine yet, but I found this on a blog I follow: tinyurl.com/ycunsm9 and now I'm torn…maybe I'll make them myself =)

  19. If it wasn't for all the stuffed animals my daughter has she wouldn't have that many. My dad made her a toy chest for her Birthday and It's FULL of stuffed animals. Avery is almost 3 so she has a LOT of toys.
    Since we'll be homeschooling in the fall I've decided to ask for Crafting supplies and NO TOYS. If toys are brought in I WILL return them (unless it's really cool of course)
    She will be getting a few toys from us against my better judgment. However, She will be getting a tag reader and the rest are outdoor toys like sidewalk paint and chalk and things of that nature. So they're educational.

    I will also be donating about half her toys very soon here. I need to weed her stuff out!

  20. My kids have a ton of toys. Honestly? Too many. They are so spoiled by our families. Our house could easily resemble a toy store. I'm not even exaggerating. Our friends are always commenting on how many toys they have.
    Every month, I do go through their bins and pitch anything that's broken. We do pack away most of the toys that they outgrow, though, because we will probably have another baby. If we don't, then I'll have a ton of toys to give away.

  21. Toys Toys! We have been given a lot by people, used, once their kiddos have grown out of them. My Christmas present to help organize was this: It is from Ikea (the EXPEDIT bookcase)the baskets are black cloth (only $5 a piece) I could eventually fill up the whole thing with the baskets. You can also turn it on its side and put it vertical if you need to. So versitle. I want one in every room. It really is a quality piece of furniture, and it is only $69. I look forward to hearing more about toys – what to do! I want to donate some things, but what if you are planning on more kids, I don't want to get rid of too much if I might need it later.

  22. Wow, what a perfectly neat little collection of toys. Ours are basically taking over our lives.

    We're loath to give them away since not sure if we'll have baby number 3 yet.

    We've got a massive chest in our living room that's spilling over with their junk. Sometimes I just want to toss it all away!

  23. ugh- Tommy is only 6 months yet he already has more toys than he knows what to do with. I hate it! Ironically, with all the expensive and fancy toys he has, his absolute favorite is this cheap $2 rattle from Walmart.

    When I'm asked what he needs gift wise, I always say gift cards or cloth diapers and that he doesn't NEED anything. But if they must get toys I'd like them to be wooden and/or made in the USA. I doubt many will listen but at least I tried! I have made it known that he won't be given all the toys at once. We'll be rotating the toys at much like you do- he'll get a few toys at once and when he appears bored he'll get the toys swapped out.

    We'll also be doing a lot of donating!

  24. We TRY to keep toys simple in our house, but I admit with the help of grandparents they've exploded a bit. We keep shelves of books in his room, and he has ALOT of books (Mommy was an English major!). We have two cube-type storage bins — one for “hard” toys like wooden rattles and one for “soft” toys like Jacques the Peacock. He also has a small shelf of wooden toys including a shape sorter, wooden peg bench, etc. Then, of course, there's also an exersaucer and a jumperoo. I try to monitor the toys though and weed out the ones that don't necessarily match our values and family mission. He's only nine-months-old now, so I imagine this is only going to get harder the older he gets!!!

  25. We TRY to keep toys simple in our house, but I admit with the help of grandparents they've exploded a bit. We keep shelves of books in his room, and he has ALOT of books (Mommy was an English major!). We have two cube-type storage bins — one for “hard” toys like wooden rattles and one for “soft” toys like Jacques the Peacock. He also has a small shelf of wooden toys including a shape sorter, wooden peg bench, etc. Then, of course, there's also an exersaucer and a jumperoo. I try to monitor the toys though and weed out the ones that don't necessarily match our values and family mission. He's only nine-months-old now, so I imagine this is only going to get harder the older he gets!!!

  26. My boys are teens, but still have plenty of “electronic toys. I never allowed the toys to overcome any room. If that happened, I boxed a bunch of them up for the semi-annual church rummage sale when the boys were sleeping. Toys, toys, toys- I hear ya~ and there are so many fun toys out there for kids, as well. That sure doesn't help Moms today. Nice post.

  27. I have also heard of a rotation. Put half away and then when they are switched it's like they have all new and exciting toys to play with. I always use baskets as well to organize!

  28. We currently have a terrifying number of toys. With a move coming up I am hoping to trim down a bit and give some away. Its hard to decide what to give away though, right now they really do play with just about everything they have.

  29. I need to get rid of a ton of toys. With 3 kids, we have a lot for all different stages. They take up most of a room, plus under the futon. It doesn't help some of them are huge, like the play kitchen. They also have too many books. If I ever find my energy again, I'm purging a bunch of stuff. Just need to get over the extreme guilt of giving away gifts.

  30. My son is only 3 months old so he is wholy disinterested in anything but parental fingers & sorta-kinda his links & a random duck that is on his carseat, but we always plan on keeping the number of toys at an absolute minimum.

    Both my husband and I were CRAZY spoiled, and we never touched 99% of the junk we had. Really all it served was to make the house look really trashy (IMO) and make us feel guilty for how much money our parents would waste trying to make us happy.

    We want to keep the things at a minimum and encourage creativity as much as possible- plus we will be moving countries ever few years and there will be no room for a lot of toys. I also read a blog by another expat mom in China, her child has 9 toys and all their Chinese friends consider her kids beyond spoiled! Such an interesting difference in cultures!

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