Pink toys for boys?

I hate the gender stereotyping that is so prevalent in the childrens toy market. Hate it. If you take a walk around any large toy store you will see clear segregation between ‘boys toys’ and ‘girls toys’. It seems to be assumed that boys like trains, cars and Lego while girls prefer dolls, cooking and cuddly animals. While this may well be the case for many, is this because of genuine preferences or subtle exposure from day 1. Pink pushchairs for quiet, gentle little girls to push their blonde haired dolls around in and big, mean looking Lego dumper tucks for the boys to knock their Duplo towers over with.

I think advertising plays a big part, and I certainly don’t bring my children up to conform to these stereotypes. We don’t have separate toys in this house – we have a tub of toys that are for anyone to play with, and if you sit back and watch, children will choose what they want to play with rather that what people expect them to pick.

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn tea set review

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn tea set review

One of Max’s favourite toys is the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Say Please Tea Set, currently available from Amazon for £11. This is such a great value toy, and has so many play elements that we love. There are songs, reminders to say please and thank you, cakes to serve, cups for pretend picnics and a little plate shape sorter for the cake slices. All round great toy – but why is it pink? Not that Max or I care about the colour, but so many people wouldn’t buy this for a boy based on the colour. It implies that only little girls play tea parties, only little girls like to help in the kitchen and make tea for teddies. And that is just so wrong. 

Why are Dads encouraged and praised for pushing prams, making the dinner and doing the housework, yet little boys are not afforded the same equality? In my house we focus on gender neutral play – my children will play with whichever toys they choose, and they will never ever be told ‘that’s for girls’ or discouraged from playing trains due to their sex. 

What are your thoughts on this? Do you believe that all children have the right to choose how and what they play with, or do you think there is value in segregating toys for girls and boys?

 

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18 Comments

  1. September 7, 2014 / 2:50 pm

    This is a really interesting post, I only have a daughter so we only have her toys in the house and to be honest I am guilty of buying her pink things if there is a choice but that’s more because it is my favourite colour. That being said she has a big red bus, her bumbo is blue and some of her toys are neutral bright colours so not everything is pink. She is only 8 months old at the minute but if, when she is older she picks ‘boy’ toys I wouldn’t have a problem with her playing with them.
    I think there should be no segregation in terms of toys but I also think there should be a wider range to chose from in terms of, hmmm a push along walker toy I saw the other day for example, it was available in blue or pink, surely it could come in more colours… Orange, purple, green, or not come in blue or pink at all just in a range of unisex colours?
    I hope that my daughter gets to explore all sorts of toys and play all sorts of games and not be pushed in to doing things just because they a ‘girl’ things. I have already started to widen the colour scheme of her toys and have to remind myself they are not my toys!
    Jenni – Baby Chaos recently posted…Silent Sunday – 07/09/2014My Profile

  2. September 7, 2014 / 3:15 pm

    Aaaaaaaargh, it’s everywhere, it’s embedded in every aspect of society this gender prejudice that girls should play with good old fashioned Suzy homemaker toys! It goes so deep look at the insults we use, you run like a girl you throw like a girl, woman huff !! It needs to end an WE can be the people who do it!
    Karen recently posted…Thankful Thursday- 4 September 2014My Profile

  3. September 7, 2014 / 4:12 pm

    This is so true!! I have a little boy who is 5 and often when we have been to the toy shop he has liked the look of something until he has seen it is pink or covered in pictures of girls and we have to try and explain its ok to play with its for boys and girls! I dont see why they has to be different sections in toy shops for boys and girls, As you say they should just be able to be happy playing with whatever they like! xx
    Jess Howliston recently posted…Infacare **REVIEW**My Profile

  4. Rachael
    September 7, 2014 / 5:47 pm

    Interesting post Kate!
    I let my kids play with whatever they want. My little boy loves putting on his sister’s princess dresses and playing with his sister’s dolls house, but he also loves typical “boy” things too. However, my daughter (through no encouragement through myself or my husband) seems to be naturally drawn to anything pink, sparkly or “girlie”. Brings the whole nature vs nurture debate into play I think.

  5. September 7, 2014 / 8:03 pm

    As a former category planner, I think there’s a reason why they do it, and that’s for ease of merchandising – ie the signage. But the pink alternatives for unisex items is ridiculous. Yesterday, I even saw a pink tractor (ie a real tractor) at a farm show. Insane, what girl farmer would want to advertise herself as a girl driving something like that?

  6. September 7, 2014 / 8:22 pm

    Harry’s favourite toys are dolls and Emmy loves trains.
    I think its fine to let them play with a good mix of toys.
    I tend to boycott stores which have boy and girl sections if I can
    Emmys Mummy recently posted…Project 365 – Photo Round Up Weeks 35 & 36My Profile

  7. September 7, 2014 / 8:53 pm

    Being a little boy, I think pink for boys is GREAT! I LOVE Peppa Pig, and George too, I have two big sisters so here is lots of pink here! It is a shame that not may other people think pink is ok for boys – and prams, and dolls too x
    Ickle Pickle recently posted…Not so Silent Sunday Photo 7 Sept 2014My Profile

  8. September 7, 2014 / 9:13 pm

    T loves A’s pink toys just as much as any other and it’s only recently that A has shown any interest or preference in pink things. I would rather all toys were gender neutral x
    Donna recently posted…Review: Beanies Flavoured Coffee and Giveaway!My Profile

  9. September 7, 2014 / 9:55 pm

    I just don’t buy the pink toys. I guess I also don’t buy my daughter the overly boy toys either, she had some small cars and a train set at her grandparents. But I really can’t stand the pink! She has a red pram, and a blue buggy so even her girly toys aren’t pink!
    Laughing Owl recently posted…Silent SundayMy Profile

  10. September 7, 2014 / 11:15 pm

    Little J absolutely loves his Sophia the First doll and his pink and purple glitter Doc. McStuffins microphone. It doesn’t bother me at all and I love the fact that he chose both of these himself and we wouldn’t encourage to pick Thomas the tank or bob the builder just because they are associated with boys. I hate it that blue is boys and pink is for girls it’s so silly
    Michelle Murray recently posted…Baby RefluxMy Profile

  11. Jill@chicbabybox
    September 8, 2014 / 11:05 am

    I am guilty of buying pink for my daughter, can’t help it. However she loves trains and cars and will quite happily play with them. I do think that it is more accepted that girls play with boy toys as opposed to boys playing with girls toys, which is a shame really. With so many of our celebrity chefs being Male I definitely agree with what you say regarding boys being afforded the same gender equality.

  12. September 11, 2014 / 7:55 pm

    Totally agree on your gender neutral approach and that’s what we want to introduce in our house as Baby L grows. I don’t think it is just toys though as clothes can be very boy or girl too. I’m not saying that boys should wear dresses, but if a girl wants to wear a pirate hoodie or superman t-shirt, this shouldn’t be viewed as being for a boy. I think that if kids can choose what they want, then everyone will be a lot happier.
    The DADventurer (Dave) recently posted…Britain & Ireland’s Next Top (Baby) ModelMy Profile

  13. September 11, 2014 / 10:24 pm

    this is the one thing that gets on my nerves big time. Joshua loved his hoover, iron and his handbag … much to my hubbys disgust! … i think if he wasnt green pink or otherwise .. who cares!
    Jaime Oliver recently posted…Why I Dislike Children’s PartiesMy Profile

  14. September 16, 2014 / 8:02 pm

    I really dislike gender steriotyping. I think its unfair, mainly because boys seem to have the WAY cooler toys! 😉 But as for the pink tea set, boys can grow into men to poor bloody good cups of tea, so I say encourage it! I dont think there is a single thing wrong with girls playing with boys toys and vice versa. Max looks like he’s having a grand ole time having a tea party!

    Thanks so much for linking up! #MMWBH x

  15. September 16, 2014 / 11:41 pm

    I totally agree with you Kate. I remember always playing with my older brother’s toy cars and trucks and nobody batted an eyelid. But I bet if he played with my dolls, it would have raised a few eyebrows!
    Luckily times are changing. We have a lot of gender neutral toys in our home for our baby and the grandparents are even getting him a play kitchen for his birthday!
    Kiddy Reviews recently posted…Tips for Choosing a NurseryMy Profile

  16. August 4, 2015 / 7:55 am

    In a way, this is the opposite of my experience as my daughter loves Star Wars and superheroes, as well as dolls and kitchen/baby stuff. I certainly introduced her to the former, but it has become her own thing since – and as a stay-at-home dad, i absolutely agree that parenting and household toys are as much for boys as girls. I see boys playing with these all the time at playgroups.
    Simon recently posted…Celebrating Disney Princesses of ColourMy Profile

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