Gender neutral toys are getting easier to find, but which ones are best?
However, it can be difficult not to fall into the gender trap when shopping for kids.
Boys like trucks and anything pink is just for girls, right? Well, no actually. These days, kids and parents alike are demanding a more conscientious approach, and the retail industry is responding by providing some great gender non-conforming options.
Check out the rest of this post for awesome gift ideas!
Toys For Both Genders
Gender neutral toys (toys for both genders) are a great option if you aren’t sure what kind of gift to buy. Items such as puzzles, building sets, board games, or arts and crafts supplies are all great choices and promote problem solving and creativity. This award winning Magnetic Stick N Stack building set is guaranteed for provide hours of fun and imagination!
For the budding artist, try a starter art set like this bestseller by Crayola. The set includes 140 pieces and is a great price at under $20, so you’ll have enough change to throw in this awesome coloring book, Girls Are Not Chicks by Jacinta Bunnell and Julie Novak.
Another awesome and inexpensive choice for younger kids is modeling wax. Like Playdoh, it’s a great manipulative that will stimulate young minds (and hands!). Unlike Playdoh, modeling wax made doesn't dry out. Combine this modeling wax with a few inexpensive wooden peg people to dress up in wax outfits and you've got a gift hit!
While musical instruments may require some noise tolerance, they make for fun gender neutral toys and come in a wide array of age appropriate choices. This xylophone is the perfect choice for toddlers and young children and comes with an eagle whistle (but sorry, ear plugs are sold separately!)
If you’re shopping for a slightly older child, consider this ukulele in a fun aqua color, and add in a play book or lesson.
Books, Books and More Books
Books can also fall into the gender neutral category, depending on the theme, and they can help convey gender and stereotype busting narratives. Research it carefully beforehand to ensure it doesn’t feed into gender stereotypes. Red: A Crayon’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall is a wonderful children’s book about a blue crayon who has mistakenly been put into a blue sleeve, and the friends and family who help him discover his true identity.
You might also enjoy Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino and illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant. Morris feels ostracized by his classmates when they don’t understand why he loves wearing a beautiful, crinkly, tangerine dress from the dress up center. Morris takes them on an adventure and everyone learns that it doesn’t matter what you wear in outer space!
For older kids, check out This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe, which follows the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day!
Will Mom And Dad Mind?
What if you want to buy a gender neutral toys for other people's kids, but you’re worried about how they will react? Did Mollie ask for a firetruck, but you’re worried Mom won’t approve? Will Dad be upset if you buy Derrick the baking set he’s been dreaming about for months? That’s a valid concern and a tough question to answer.
One option would be to consider one of the toys for both genders that are listed above. Maybe later you could offer to take Derrick to a cooking class, and let Mollie bring cookies to the fire station (and ask if she can sit behind the wheel of the fire truck while you’re there!)
Another choice that’s more direct would be to ask Mom and Dad about the gift beforehand and save the child from backlash or anxiety later on (or the disappointment of not receiving what they asked for). You may even recommend they check out some literature about raising gender nonconforming kids.
Gender Born, Gender Made, by Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D. is a guide which helps parents of children who live outside the binary gender boxes, and offers a framework for helping children become their authentic gender.
Maybe the perfect gift isn’t actually a thing, but an experience! It could be a shopping spree and ice cream, canoeing and camping, or taking an art class together. Maybe your nephew wants to go horseback riding, and your god-daughter really wants to try out a martial arts class. No matter that activity, you’ll have a blast together and make some precious memories.
For more ideas, check out Gifts that Are Experiences!
Remember, it’s easy to get wrapped up (no pun intended) in gift giving anxiety. Toys for both genders are sure to win smiles and hugs when you make choices that respect and capture the true spirit of your little gift recipient.