How many toys should your child have to promote optimal development & The Smart Toy Club

Baby with toys

This article is done in collaboration with the Smart Toy Club.

"Ugh! If . I . was . just . a . little . taller" you think as you lye flat on your tummy, trying to reach that last piece of puzzle your toddler threw under the couch.

This is in fact the 6th time today that you have packed away this puzzle, as well as all the rest of the million toys scattered all over the house.

There used to be a "play room" with neatly organized toy containers but those have since been overturned to become climbing obstacles and the toy room is now just your whole house.

With all these toys scattered everywhere, how can you be sure that your child meaningfully engaged with each one or played with an item long enough to improve their development. Are the toys being used to their fullest potential and how can you ensure that the toys you so lovingly buy your child, actually serves their purpose of helping your child learn and develop?

Then of course there is always the question of, "Am I spoiling my child? Does she need so many toys?".

Well a recent study conducted by occupational therapist, Alexia Metz, at the University of Toledo in Ohio looked into the possibility of having too many toys and it leading to reduced quality of toddler play.

In her study, which you can read here, she observed that children did engage more meaningfully and for longer periods with toys when there were fewer toys available at a time.

Now don't get discouraged if you, like me, are a parent that loves buying toys for their little one and enjoy the experience of Christmas shopping more than your child loves opening them. What the research suggests, is that having fewer options available and thus fewer distractions, your child will be encouraged and able to explore each item to their fullest potential.

A bucket for instance, will become something to carry around, a safe place to hide things in, a drum when turned on it's head and the ever popular flying obstacle flung across the room (Only my kid? Okay then, moving along). When left with fewer options, it gives them the opportunity to get creative and explore.

The study further shares that incorporating the right toys at an early age may help promote development and, therefore, decrease the chances of developmental delays. It is thus very important for children to have toys to play with.

I always recall my youth, where I had an abundance of Barbies but my friend only had two. It was exceedingly difficult for the two of us to stage a town with shops, shop assistants, doctors, vets, hair stylists and teachers when we were already playing with the only two inhabitants of the town. Versus the times when she played at my house and we built an entire city throughout the house with employed Barbies everywhere.

In stead of buying fewer toys, I will rather be ensuring I pack them away in the cupboard where they cannot be a distraction and take a few out at a time for play time.

When deciding which toys we are going to play with today, it will also allow me to focus on helping my daughter make the most of them and playing with her, rather than leaving her to her own devices in the play area. This will be good, because smaller children find it harder to initiate play on their own and often need assistance in getting started. Only with age, do children become better able to initiate play on their own and begin to increase the creativity and sophistication in their play.

In fact, children under the age of three remain vulnerable to distractions, particularly for objects that are near, novel, responsive, interesting, and/or personally meaningful. In preschool, inhibitory control emerges in which children can intentionally override their orienting responses to sustain attention in the presence of distractions.

Additional Information:

So now that mothers have the added task of selecting the correct combination of toys to be taken out for playtime, how do we know what to take out? Do we have the correct toys to encourage development and engaged playtime?

Toddler building puzzle

Let me introduce you to the Smart Toy Club:

We have recently had the privilege of reviewing the services of the Smart Toy Club and who can pass up the opportunity of having your little one be a toy tester. I mean, isn't that the dream job?

The Smart Toy Club is a monthly subscription service that allows you to rent an age appropriate, educational bag of quality toys. At the end of each month, they arrange an exchange date that suits you and they bring you a new bag of toys, in exchange for the bag your little one is done playing with.

At first, I was a bit skeptical about such a service, with it being such a unique idea. But I have since come to know that it is actually uniquely brilliant and can in fact fit in to any type of household.

My first thought was that my little girl already has so many toys, how would another bag of toys fit into our life? My mommy heart was pleasantly pleased at witnessing her excitement each month when daddy handed her her new bag of toys.

The first month she hadn't known what to expect from the big blue bag, but once we unzipped it, her face lit up and she carefully and excitedly inspected each toy as she removed them from the bag one by one. It soon became one of the highlights of her month, when daddy brings home the new bag of toys.

It also didn't matter that she already had heaps of toys, the blue bag of toys were special and since we packed them away nicely after each play session, it was an exciting part of each day, unzipping the special toys.

Each bag of toys we received was also diverse and carefully selected for her age group and capabilities. It included a mix of toys such as a toy that makes sound, light up, one that moves across the room, one for fine motor development, a puzzle and a toddler book. When ever we had to leave the house, I didn't have to go search for the correct mix of toys, puzzles and books to pack in, I simply grabbed the bag.

A question many mothers may ask is, "How hygienic is it? A service where toys hop from household to household?". I know this was one of my questions and I was very happy to read about their vigorous cleaning process and even more pleased when the clean and sometimes brand new toys showed up at our door.

Then of course there's the questions of "What if my child becomes attached to the toys and don't want to return them?". Knowing that my child can go weeks without a toy she "hid" in the house or dumped behind the couch, I wasn't overly concerned about it. She loved the excitement of receiving a new bag of toys more than she would notice a missing toy. In fact, she never showed any sign of missing a toy and happily moves on from toy to toy, even with her own.

But if your child does become attached to a specific toy, the kind ladies at the Smart Toy Club will allow you to purchase the item for your private toy collection or you can ask to keep it for an additional month.

Smart Toy Club supplies toys for children aged 6 months to 5 years and the costs are;
  • R 249 per month - Collection in Wynberg or Gardens
  • R 299 per month - Delivery in Western Cape
  • R 349 per month - National Delivery

Each bag will contain 4 to 6 carefully selected toys valued around R 700. An initial 3 months subscription is required but thereafter you can rent on a month to month basis that suits you.

Visit their website to learn more about Smart Toy Club or to sign up by simply clicking here.

Child building puzzle

*Competition is now closed - WIN with Smart Toy Club

The moms of Smart Toy Club have generously offered one of you a 3 month subscription to the Smart Toy Club, including free delivery to your door!

How to enter: Go to our Facebook Page or Instagram Account and follow the easy steps on the competition post;

Via Facebook:
Via Instagram:

bag of toys

Terms and Conditions of the competition;

  1. The competition is open to people with a delivery address in South Africa and does not extend to related parties of the sponsor.
  2. You can enter once via Facebook and once via Instagram for each of your children / grandchildren and the winner must have a child, grandchild or friend's child that can enjoy the prize.
  3. By entering this competition, you are thus legally representing yourself as having a child / grandchild / family member or friend’s child who will make use of this prize.
  4. Spam comments will be deleted.
  5. Prize is not exchangeable or available for resale.
  6. Winner will be chosen through and is only eligible to win if all requirements have been met.
  7. Baby Guide for the Modern Mother's responsibility ends with the announcement of the winner and the winner will be contacted via email and/or social media and will have 48 hours to claim the prize by registering on the Smart Toy Club website.
  8. Participating in this competition constitutes acceptance of these rules. Any violation or attempt to violate any of the above rules, will result in immediate disqualification.
  9. Baby Guide for the Modern Mother, Letitia Venter, its employees, directors, owners, representatives or agents will not be held liable for any loss or damage incurred however arising and of whatsoever nature.
  10. Baby Guide for the Modern Mother and Letitia Venter reserve the right to terminate the competition immediately and without notice should it be challenged, stopped or declared or become unlawful.
  11. By entering this competition, entrants consent to the use of their personal data/information by the promoter for the purpose of administration of this prize and for any other purpose to which the entrant consents.