No battery toys like wooden shape sorters and puzzles help boost critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They foster a sense of satisfaction when your child can do things “all by myself”.
Remember that thing you played with all the time when you were a kid?
It was with you from sun up till sun down.
You didn’t buy it at any toy store… it was free.
And it’s what could turn an empty box into a dollhouse or a broom handle into a light saber.
Where can you find this long-lost treasure? It’s still with you – if you take the time to encourage it…
Your imagination – would your childhood have been the same without it? And do you ever feel like our children’s generation is really missing out on the simple, creative joys of life?
From the day a child is born, they’re bombarded with singing, blinking, interactive toys with slick marketing campaigns to convince you the advantages of “starting education early.”
I wasn’t immune to the claims. When our son was a few weeks old, we asked our birth doula her opinion of black and white toys for visual stimulation. She kindly told us, “He’s been in a dark, quiet place for nine months… the world itself is enough stimulation for him right now.”
It’s amazing how a little perspective can add wisdom and common sense to your whole parenting mindset, isn’t it? Her response gave us the belief in ourselves as parents, to trust our own instincts rather than the commercials.
It also gives us the strength to stand firm when our boys ask for the latest handheld video game or toys that walk, talk, and require no imagination on their part.
Many parents don’t realize that no battery toys contribute to early childhood education. Wooden shape sorters and kid-sized puzzles are a great way to boost critical thinking as well as problem-solving skills. They also foster a sense of satisfaction in doing things “all by myself,” as the independent toddler likes to announce.
For kids with autism, no battery toys encourage pretend play and can give them an edge with their social skills. Also, babies and children tend to play longer with a no-battery toy as compared to one that does everything for them. Try this experiment with your child and see for yourself.
Why battery-powered toys are not eco-friendly
When you choose toys that allow your child to think for herself, you’re usually doing the planet a favor as well. The environmental downside of battery-powered children’s toys is worth considering:
- Energy use – If you use rechargeable batteries, you’re plugging them into a charger and using electricity to restore them to their full energy capacity. But as you can imagine, unless you have solar panels, this contributes to air pollution and climate change.
- Battery waste – Americans go through close to 150,000 tons of battery waste every single year. Most of these batteries contain heavy metals, many of which are toxic to make and toxic when not properly disposed. They can be recycled, which is preferable to sending them to the landfill, but this requires yet more energy.
- Microchip toxins – If it’s battery-powered, it’s likely fitted with at least one microchip. The process of creating microchips is incredibly toxic, involving hazardous gases, chemicals, and massive amounts of water. It also results in lots of hazardous waste, all of which pollute the environment.
- Toy waste – Once the batteries run out (some are built right in) or the toy breaks (and unlikely become not repairable), it turns into a pile of plastic, metal, toxic waste.
One of the best times to make an impact on your child’s toy box is when his or her birthday rolls around. No Battery Birthdays can add fun – and a little challenge – to your gift giving routine. How can you make a Battery-Free Birthday that’s a blast?
How to find fun, no-battery toys for your kids
One very eco-friendly way to find great toys is to DIY them. Here are some fun repurposing toy projects that you can probably make from something you already have or items easily found at yard sales or thrift stores.
If DIY isn’t your thing, buying new is great, too. You’re casting a vote with your dollars for the types of toys you’d rather support. Consider some of these classic options for battery-free toys:
Try to find wood that has been harvested sustainably with either the FSC-certified stamp of approval or from salvaged wood materials. You may be surprised at how long young children can entertain themselves with stacking blocks, animal friends, nesting toys, or cups and balls.
A wooden train set is a great investment. Kids can get hours and hours of fun from them. You can expand and add on more tracks, and of course more trains. Get a sturdy, sustainably made brand so you can hold on to them for your grandkids.
LOVEVERY’s practical system of solid wood blocks for building spatial, language, and problem-solving skills includes 70 heirloom quality pieces that work with each other in more than 20 stage-based activities.
The lacquer-free Raduga Grëz Mountains Small Arch Stacker is the perfect toy for open ended play and connecting kids with nature. Great for encouraging creativity, problem solving, and hand-eye coordination, the natural colors make it look like art in any nursery room.
Stimulate your child’s inner creativity with artist supplies such as paper, paints, natural crayons, chalk, glue, and so on. Just be sure to look for recycled content paper, recycled magazines, nontoxic paints, soy or veggie-based crayons, nontoxic glues, and other natural supplies.
Make your own squishy putty or dough that will let your kids sculpt their way out of boredom. There are many recipes for natural play dough you can make at home. If DIY is not your thing, give Eco Dough a try.
DRESS UP CLOTHES OR PLAY SILKS
One of the most fun activities for children is to make believe you’re someone else. Help your kids dress up by buying secondhand clothing and accessories from your local thrift store. Or try play silks. This is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to help your kids become princesses, wizards, dragons, and mini-brides. Don’t forget kid-friendly kitchen gadgets (real or toys) or a tea set.
PLUSH TOYS OR HANDMADE DOLLS
Best friend, sleeping buddy, decoration, or secret agent… A stuffed animal or handmade doll can fill many roles throughout its time with your child. Look for organic cotton if possible. Handmade is also a plus when you can support small businesses or local artisans.
Learning about the planet is one of the best ways to stimulate a green attitude in your children. Give new or used books on earthy themes – like wildlife, oceans, forests, gardening, or science! They’ll be entertained while they learn.
If your child is willing to forego gifts, ask guests to bring dog or cat toys for your local animal shelter, or another cause kids enjoy supporting. If you’re looking for a unique party experience, have the kids gather to donate the supplies so they can see the difference their gifts make.
Best of all, make it fun and don’t worry too much about being perfect. Your child will follow your lead, so why not let your imagination run wild?
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