We think we live in a modern world and that we are modern parents bringing up our babies with the best of both worlds – what worked for our parents and grandparents fused with innovative “new” ideas like baby-wearing (which wecovered in a blog post last year), feeding on demand and, horror of horrors, baby-led weaning. However, walk into any modern toy shop in the UK today and you’ll have a choice of two directions – the Pink Path or the Blue Path. The Pink Path will be jam packed with girly delights such as dolls, kitchens, make up kits, etc. while the Blue Path will be chock a block with cool mini helicopters, train sets and construction sets.
However much prospective parents vow not to treat their baby in a gender specific way,putting this into practice can be a challenge. Not
only are toys geared to boys or girls, but so too are clothes and all types of baby equipment. Then there are the gifts that people buy
for your little one – not everybody will have the same ideas as you and some doting family and friends may want to buy the “cute” stuff.
As parents, however, you are in control, so there are choices you can make that will mean your child has access to mostly non-gender specific toys – after all, toys are the most important tools of the trade when it comes to your little one learning effectively. Luckily,
toys for babies and infants are less likely to be gender specific than those designed for older children. Nowadays, most soft or plush toys are designed to be bright and garish to encourage eye movement development. This means bright colours rather than pastel blues
and pinks. It’s pretty much the same with early years. books – bold and bright is the name of the game.
Parents buying educational toys usually have a choice of what to buy. For instance, if you’re looking for wooden building blocks large enough to encourage dexterity and concentration, then you usually get a choice of plain or painted. The painted ones will usually be in bright colours anyway, although there are probably more “girly” sets available – it’s up to the parents to choose the colour scheme (or lack there of) that best fits their parenting ethos.
A balanced attitude, coupled with wise purchasing choices means that it is possible to encourage the ability and confidence in children that leads to them joining society as bright young adults when the time comes, whether you have girls, boys or both. The most important issue is that in a bid to provide a level playing field we don’t over rule gender altogether. After all, there’s nothing wrong with girls wanting to dress up as glamorous princesses now and again, and there’s nothing as cool as seeing a nine year old girl tramping round the garden playing football in a ball gown and wellies.