Having a little one turning your world topsy turvy while wrapping you around its chubby little fingers can be overwhelming enough as it is. In between nap times, feeding times, bath times, more nap times, fun times and all the other times running away at breakneck speed for new parents, it's almost impossible to keep an eye out on every little thing influencing your restless tyke. But after the direct example of the parents themselves, one of the most important items that affect your children are their toys.
A few weeks into the world of wriggly little humans, and most parents will have noticed one very specific thing about children's items, whether it be toys or clothes – boys' things tend to come in blue, and girls' in pink. While this gendering of baby stuff is a relatively recent phenomenon from the 70s, the gender stereotypes they continue to perpetuate can be hard to weed out, even in 21st century children. This Women's Day, we speak to young parents about the most annoying stereotypes about children that they cannot stand.
“The kitchen set is my pet peeve – one of the most stereotypical gifts for little girls. I don't think children shouldn't play with that, I'd really like to have a teenager in the house one day who helps out! But it annoys me that that is expected of my daughter, but not if she were my son. Also, why are so many kitchen sets pink? Can you imagine if she grows up to think her kitchen should look like a rainbow vomited on it?”
- Mahnaz, 28
“The putul biye always seems like a strange kind of pretend play to me. I know pretend play is very important for children's development, but why do we always teach our baby girls to get their toys married, but not the boys? It's weird! I would much rather she pretend she's an explorer or an astronaut.”
- Fahim, 31
“My daughter loves dolls of course, as well as other toys, but I still remember how in the playgroup class I look after (I'm a teacher), a little boy her age asked one of the girls to play with her dolly, and how the kids laughed! It shocked me to realise how young children learn such gendered roles, and how difficult it can be for their self esteem – to be put into these boxes with no idea why. I also hate how foreign all our dolls look with their blonde hair and white skin. It makes me sad how unrepresentative the toy industry is of my little brown baby!”
- Sara, 32
“My son goes to sleep with his favourite teddy bear. We had a relative staying with us, and one day I see her explaining to him that he's too old and too manly to always carry around a squishy, little toy. It made me so angry! No one would have batted an eyelash if he was a five year old girl. It's maddening.”
- Raihana, 27
“I loved cars when I was a kid, and I got a bunch of them for my little girl. She loves being driven around, and I always tell that one day when she is old and responsible enough, she can drive one herself. She loves her toy cars, but people are always commenting about how unusual it is how much she likes them. It makes no sense to me whatsover – if I could have had them, why can't she?”
- Raian, 33
“We are a family of cricket lovers. I adore the game and my daughter always jumps up and down in excitement with me. She's still pretty small but she has a plastic bat that she carries around, and too many people comment on how she's basically one of the boys. So many people think you're automatically 'cooler' if you like so-called boy's things and they think they're giving her a compliment, when really they're just creating binaries on what girls can or cannot like.”
- Tahmina, 30
Gender neutral toys for your kids
Building toys like Lego. You can get the Lego Superheroes which now feature Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and more
Doctor kits. Little ones love using stethoscopes on their favourite teddy bear.
Footballs. A toy you can pick up almost anywhere and something that all children love.
Musical toys. You get the added benefit of stoking any musical skills hidden inside your mini-version.
Animals. Teach your kids about loving all furry, scaly and feathery friends from an early age. Trust me, they'll thank you for it.