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 your child is born, you’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 and magazine ads. 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 and 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 toys
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 spot fun, battery-free toys for your kids
So, what kinds of non-battery-powered toys will your kids just love? Consider some of these classic options for battery-free toys:
- Wood blocks and puzzles: Try to find wood that’s harvested sustainably with either the FSC-certified stamp of approval or from salvaged wood materials.
- Art supplies: Stimulate your child’s inner creativity with artist supplies such as paper, paints, crayons, chalk, glue, and so on. Just be sure to look for recycled content paper, recycled magazines, nontoxic paints, soy-based crayons, nontoxic glues, and other natural supplies. We love Eco Paint from EcoPartyTime.
- Dress up clothes: 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. This is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to help your kids become princesses, wizards, dragons, and mini-brides.
- Putty dough: Make your own squishy putty or dough that will let your kids sculpt their way out of boredom. There are many recipes online for natural dough you can make at home. If DIY is not your thing, give Eco Do a try.
- Books: Learning about the planet is one of the best ways to stimulate a green attitude in your children. Buy them some books on earthly themes, like wildlife, oceans, forests, gardening, or science! They’ll be entertained while being educated.
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?