If you feel like you have too many toys, you’re not alone. Different toys offer different types of interactivity for little ones, so it’s easy to fall in love with many of them! Blocks are for building; balls allow us to explore motion, gravity, and cause and effect; and other Montessori toys enable children to master developmental tasks — problem-solving for babies!
So, how do we help babies and toddlers get the most out of their toys? Providing an environment with minimal clutter and a curated selection of toys is the first step. A toy rotation system will allow you to keep your toys without overwhelming your baby.
Clutter creates disorder and confusion in your baby’s mind. They are trying to make sense of the world around them, and if there is an abundance of toys wherever they look, then they cannot see or understand what is actually there.
What is a toy rotation system?
Toy rotation simply means limiting the number of toys that are accessible at one time and updating the available toys on a regular basis, not by increasing the selection of toys, but rather by removing some and replacing them with others.
Toy rotation is an essential part of a Montessori school’s practice for young children, but “why,” “when,” and “how” are important elements to understand so that you can use this strategy successfully at home.
We recommend designing a play area for your baby where you can begin introducing them to the idea of selecting toys from a shelf and then putting them back when finished.
In order to make selection possible, keep only as many toys out as fit easily on the shelf with space between them. That way, when a toy has been removed from its spot, it’s easy to see where it belongs.
Put everything that is too young or too old for baby in boxes or bins and store them in the tops of closets or under beds. Keep the toys that are currently suitable for baby more accessible, but still out of sight for your little one.
Then place the toys you want to use on a low shelf, within your baby’s line of sight and reach.
Trays and shallow baskets are helpful to keep items like books and balls together. Monti Kids Montessori Boxes include these organizational tools in many levels of our program.
Six to eight toys is a good number to have accessible for your baby or toddler at any given time for their internal order, experience with choices, and thorough experience with each individual toy.
Why rotate toys?
From birth, your baby takes in the order of her environment to create her own internal or mental order. Keeping her play area orderly from the start supports this development. Modeling for her where toys belong will encourage her to keep her space tidy as she grows.
When they are confronted with too many toys, they may become overwhelmed by the entire ordeal, or choose to engage in dumping out the toys as the activity, rather than using the individual toys. Even adults struggle to make choices when there are too many options. It is a kindness to your baby to offer them a reasonable number of toys to choose from so that they can assess each option and then choose what truly interests them.
Finally, toy rotation ensures that your little one will have experience with each toy in their collection. It offers them an opportunity to spend time with each item and exhaust its developmental purposes. When they have too many toys around them all the time, they are likely to miss important toys at developmentally sensitive times.
Rotating toys out and then reintroducing them after a week, or whenever she begins to lose interest in the current selection, helps to renew your baby’s curiosity and keep her engaged.