I’ll hold my hands up and admit that in the past, as a clueless Auntie, I have been guilty of gifting my friends the most annoying toddler toys. For your sake and the sake of your friends and family PLEASE, learn from my mistakes and read this guide to toddler toys you should not give as gifts. Unless you have a frenemy or a prankster friend you want to annoy that is!
Here is my guide to toddler toys that will annoy, stress, or drive their parents insane.
Electronic or Battery Operated Toys
The first thing to avoid is anything that comes with a battery that either lights up or makes noises when it doesn’t need to.
Not all electronic noisy toys are annoying to me but I find the ones where the noise function serves no real purpose, is extremely repetitive or worse yet detracts from the real value of the toy, to be the most annoying.
A prime example of this would be the FisherPrice™ Shape Sorter Cookie Jar which is guilty of all 3 sins. Shape Sorters are excellent toys for toddlers, but this one is the worst! Every time your toddler takes the lid on or off, it sings ‘Shapes are in my cookie jar’ over and over. And guess what? Toddlers love repetition so they will just do this again and again and again and again! My daughter has this cookie jar and she rarely if ever plays with the shapes or tries to put them in the holes as she just likes taking the lid off and on until blood starts pouring out of my ears – just joking, kind of! She has another shape sorter which is just a simple wooden box which she plays with properly and for far longer (and it is far quieter).
And before you say “Can you not just take the batteries out”, no-you-can-not! Because once your toddler knows that a toy makes noises they will be extremely frustrated and cross if it no longer makes those noises. The sing-song cookie jar melody is preferable at least to my daughter demanding “fix it” 20 times over.
As a category, I’m all for musical instruments as toddler gifts but there are a couple of caveats. No Drums, No Recorders (is it just my toddler that manages to both simultaneously create an ear piercing whistle and blow spittle out the end of a recorder?) and no fake electronic ‘instruments’ which are really just a lump of plastic with noisy buttons. All of these are just too unnecessarily noisy, especially in the hands of an enthusiastic toddler. I should add microphones to the list too, toddlers are more than capable of projecting their voices without the need of any enhancement! Don’t worry we do have plenty of music appreciation and instruments that are enjoyed by all in our house though, including xylophones, tambourines, a keyboard (with adjustable volume), mini acoustic guitar and a selection of home made shakers and rattles too!
Guns, Darts, and Ball launchers
Toddlers love to get a reaction from the grown-ups in their life, they are constantly seeking to get attention and love to see emotions in other people – whether that is laughter, shock or even annoyance. (Have you ever tried to act stern in front of your toddler when telling them off only to have them laugh at you?!) Add that to their love of repetition and throw in something like a foam dart launcher you can see where this is going….. Nothing is going to be more fun for the toddler than to aim at mummy or daddy. Hitting you repeatedly, even in the face will just increase their enjoyment. The more you react, the more they will find the ‘game’ hilarious. Time for a certain toy to go ‘missing’ I think. I am still harbouring resentment to the kind-thinking (childless) relative who bought this present for our little one.
Play Dough, Slime, Magic Sand
Play dough is actually a firm favourite in my house and since I got a Tuff Tray to contain the mess I don’t find it in the least bit annoying, but beforehand it was an absolute nightmare. At some point, it would get pushed off the table, or flung around, and there is always a little bit of this stuff that seems to escape and ends up getting trodden into the carpet or sofa. (Top tip for getting play dough out of carpet is to hold an ice cube against it as this makes the play dough brittle and you should be able to brush or hoover it up). I would never give play dough, or it’s slippery,wet cousin Slime as a gift to a friend unless I knew she had no carpets (ie hard floors) and a leather settee!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of the worst things to gift a toddler, it’s just a bit of fun really. We actually have almost all these toys in our home and they get played with pretty regularly without me tearing my hair out really! Yes, my life would probably be a bit easier if they didn’t exist but the 2-year-old loves them so they get to stay, because at the end of the day, if a gift makes your child happy that is all that matters – and if you give one of your friends’ or family members’ kids an annoying toy I’m sure they will forgive you (eventually)!
Have you ever given any of these toys as presents? What’s the most annoying toddler toy your child has? Let me know in the comments!