Ditch the electronic ‘educational’ toys.

ipad-baby-copyOnce you have a baby, up opens the whole new world of purchasing toys. Along with many others items such as cots, prams, equipment, bottles and clothes, prepare to be parted with your money. Often you are bombarded with advice from well meaning friends and family about what to buy and what not to buy. Companies see you as a long term customer, well let’s face it you will be buying lots of stuff for your baby – child – teenager for about twenty odd years. So how do electronic toys that are marketed as ‘educational’ fair, are they really that educational?

Over the last ten years or so, I must admit I have sat on the fence a little when it comes to electronics and learning, I’ve simply been waiting to see what research and science will show as the years go on. Anyone that knows me, or has been in my clinic room will know that I love wooden toys, I have rainbows, cars, shape sorters, puzzles and groceries all in wood and often promote the sensory virtues. Simply put they just feel, sound and smell better than plastic to me. Not to mention they last longer, they’re sturdier.

I’ve thought and no doubt expressed my opinion that in time we will probably find out just how much extra learning our children have achieved via the help of those educational apps and laptops. I’ve have passionately warned about the amount of time spent, knowing that hours spent per day is certainly not beneficial and can cause harm for our children. So when I read about research by psychologists to examine just that from a language and neurodevelopment angle I certainly was interested to hear the science. Imagine my surprise as I read that with just a 15 minute play session between a baby and their parent, that it was clear that electronic toys are actually hindering your baby’s learning of language. Their recommendation that “play with electronic toys should be discouraged”. Discouraged. What is best? Books, hands down. Second best, traditional wooden toys. Both books and wooden toys in short, help your baby to learn language and conversation, which flows onto to impact on other areas of learning for years.

So for busy parents, who have limited play time with their children because of work or other family commitments being able to make the most of their play time is really important. Put aside the electronic toys, being marketed to you as ‘educational’ and opt for the books instead, save your money. If reading isn’t doable then go for the wooden puzzles, blocks, trains, groceries instead. Enjoy your play time and be confident knowing you are giving your child exactly what their brain needs.

Nicole Pierotti



Research article published by JAMA Pediatrics


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