Having a set of minimalist toys can be life-changing.
For parents, it can be easier to clean the house and just avoid the usual headache-inducing toy clutter.
For kids, it can improve their focus and concentration as they’re not overwhelmed with too many toys.
But how do you narrow down and choose which toy to buy? How many minimalist toys should your kids have?
And what are the best minimalist toddler toys? What are the best minimalist toys for babies?
This article will answer those questions and more.
But first, let’s take a look at some more benefits of having fewer toys.
I’d also like to share some criteria you should consider when looking for the best minimalist toys for your babies and toddlers.
(Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own. For more information see Affiliate Policy.)
Benefits of Toy Minimalism
There are a lot of advantages to having a few toys in the house, such as:
• Less clutter to clean
You don’t want to add any more chores to your list.
With fewer toys, cleaning up is a breeze.
• Kids develop longer attention span
When there are too many toys, kids can get overwhelmed and overstimulated. Their attention span can suffer.
They also won’t appreciate the toys in front of them if they’re distracted by the ones that are surrounding them.
Having fewer toys then helps them concentrate and focus on whatever it is at hand. It exercises and lengthens their attention span.
• Encourages kid’s creativity
When there are fewer toys to play with, kids can become more imaginative and resourceful. They are forced to come up with various ways to play with their limited toys.
• Stimulate kid’s interest for other activities
If your kids are bored with the current minimalist toys they have, they can always turn to other activities! They will be compelled to act on that boredom and do art, read, dance, explore nature and more, instead.
• Kids learn to take care of toys
If something gets lost or broken in a pile or an overwhelming number of toys, it can easily be forgotten and taken for granted by your kid.
But if one of the minimalist toys breaks or gets lost, your kid will quickly learn its value and will take better care of it next time. Especially if you don’t replace or buy them another toy.
Buying Guide on Minimalist Toys
Consider toys that’s easy to store and keep, especially if you have limited space.
The last thing you want is toy clutter, so if you can’t keep the toys in containers, baskets, or whatnots, then at least make it easy for you to keep them away
Child’s Age and Interest
If you’re late in the minimalist game and you have a toddler, consider their current interest and their developmental skills.
Are they more into movement – running around, jumping, climbing? Or do you notice them stacking and building towers?
Would they rather grab some pen and paper and draw quietly or would they love elaborate play setups?
So observe and play with your toddler first before deciding on an appropriate toy for them.
If you still have a baby, then you can practically buy anything!
At that age, any age-appropriate that can help them reach their milestones would be great to have.
I’ve always considered how educational and useful a toy is.
Is it helpful in reaching and supporting her/ his developmental milestone? Can it help them learn some new skills? Can it help improve their gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, creative, social, and emotional skills?
So think along those lines when choosing a minimalist, educational toy for your baby or toddler.
Toys that can basically be played in different ways are called open-ended toys. These kinds of toys gives your child a of opportunities to be creative and resourceful.
If you have a kid who can destroy a toy within minutes, better get something durable and sturdy. A toy that can withstand almost all kinds of abuse from toddlers, such as wooden toys, would be better to have.
Consider also if a preschooler or even an elementary kid can still play with it.
Or if the toy material is high quality enough that your future babies can still play with it. Or if you can even gift it as an heirloom to your loved ones.
Minimalist Toys For Babies and Toddlers
Gross Motor Toys
These toys are meant for active kids or for babies who are discovering their physical abilities and boundaries.
Gross motor toys can help in improving your kid’s whole body movement. Depending on their age, it can encourage them to improve everyday skills such as jumping, climbing, and even standing and walking.
Most are meant for outdoor use, but some can also be used indoors.
It can also be useful in redirecting the attention of daredevil kids to play with safer toys. An example of that is making your kid use a climbing toy, rather than seeing them climb up the window or furniture.
You’ll only need one of these gross motor minimalist toys and one would be enough. At least until your kid outgrows it:
Gross Motor Minimalist Toys for Babies
Gross Motor Minimalist Toys for Toddlers
These are a classic set of toys that can be played by all ages, even adults!
Building block toys are beneficial in developing your kid’s fine and gross motor skills, as well as cognitive and creative skills.
There are also a lot of varieties to choose from, so you can pick something that would suit your kid’s developmental skills and interests.
For eg., duplos and bigger building blocks are better suited for younger kids.
Nontoxic organic toys are safe to play with, even for babies.
Magnetic tiles and legos can offer a more challenging yet fun experience for toddlers and older kids.
(By the way, I have a review here on the Connetix vs Magna Tiles vs Picasso magnetic tiles if you’re interested.)
Just remember to have a dedicated container or storage area for the building blocks. You can also teach your kids how to clean it up and store it after playing.
I’d highly recommend getting one or two of the following highly recommended building blocks below:
Building Blocks Minimalist Toys for Babies
Building Blocks Minimalist Toys for Toddlers
Traditionally viewed as toys for boys, vehicle toys are actualy great for both sexes.
It is a well-rounded toy that has a lot of developmental benefits such as:
- improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
- for exploring, reasoning, and developing their cognitive skills
- enhancing their creativity
- practicing their language skills and expressing themselves, and more!
You can get one or two different vehicle toys from the list below:
Vehicle Minimalist Toys for Babies
Vehicle Minimalist Toys for Toddlers
Arts and Crafts
I admit I’ve gone overboard with the arts and crafts materials in the house. It’s making my eyes twitch every time my kid uses dozens of pens, markers, highlighters, crayons, colored pencils, scissors, even some stapler, washi tape, etc. then LEAVES THEM SPRAWLED ALL OVER THE TABLE AND FLOOR.
So take it from me – just give your kid 2 to 3 arts and crafts materials.
You can opt for simple, cheap, and hassle-free items that won’t stain your walls (if ever they draw on them), such as washable markers or non-toxic crayons and just a plain drawing pad.
Or go all out and get them a drawing easel with a few drawing materials. Take note if you have the space for one.
Arts and Crafts Minimalist Toys
Pail and Shovel
A simple and super cheap toy such as a pail and shovel can bring heaps of fun and excitement to both a baby and a toddler – even older kids!
Aside from obviously using it at the beach, they can also use this in a variety of ways:
- In the bathroom for playing with water
- For experimenting with mixing colored water using food dye
- For building up their imagination when they pretend to catch a fish
- For throwing a ball
- For carrying around their other toys
- and many more!
I have a love and hate relationship with sensory toys.
I love the benefits that my kid gets from playing with her sensory balls and crinkly toy when she was a baby, which we exchanged for clay and kinetic sand when she turned 3 years old.
It improved her hand-eye coordination and dexterity, especially when she squishes, kneads, and pulls on the clay.
It also helped my daughter’s focus and attention span. She can play with her kinetic sand for hours!
Playing with her also expands her vocabulary – introducing words such as pinch, roll, flatten, and such. Not to mention that sensory toys also develop their creativity and imagination!
I’m not fond though of the clean-up, especially with kinetic sand.
And I have a little OCD moment when I see my kid mixing all the different clay colors until it turns into a brown heap of something gross-looking.
So take note of those things when considering sensory toys.
If you’re a little OCD like me, I would suggest just giving your toddler one clay color and just a few age-appropriate clay accessories. Make sure that they’re also past that stage where they put everything in their mouth.
For babies, just one or two sensory toys would do.
Sensory Minimalist Toys for Babies
Sensory Minimalist Toys for Toddlers
Play Kitchen Set
It might seem expensive but it’s worth it IF a pretend play kitchen is in line with your kid’s interest.
You can just choose to buy the play kitchen. Or to make things more fun and interesting for your little one, get them some pots, spatulas, utensils, and pretend food.
The whole kitchen play set along with a few more accessories can already make up for at least 4 minimalist toys!
Pretend play can give a lot of opportunities for kids to practice their fine motor skills, develop their creativity, learn social and emotional skills, and more.
Just take note that this is suitable for toddlers and older kids, not babies.
Doll House Set
When I think of a dollhouses before, I usually think of something homely, pink, and frilly. Well not anymore!
Dollhouses of today are nothing compared to before. Well at least for me, back then.
They are now intricate themed sets with complete furniture, figurines, and accessories.
Some themes are the usual regular dollhouse set.
Then there’s a firehouse, castle, garden and many more!
It’s really quite mind-blowing and even I, a fully grown adult, want to play with it!
I think getting one of these dollhouse sets is enough to make up for at least 4 minimalist toys.
Just take note that these dollhouse sets, with all their small accessories, are more suitable for preschoolers that have stopped mouthing their toys.
Figurines or Dolls
If having a dollhouse will take up some significant space in the room indefinitely, then maybe opt for another toy with a similar purpose.
A building block with some magnetic tiles (or legos) WITH some figurines or dolls would do the trick.
Or your kids don’t need to make a dollhouse. They can just play with the figurines or dolls independently.
I suggest just getting your toddler one doll and/or a few figurine characters for their pretend play setup.
A lovey or a doll can be great for a baby, just take note of buttons and other potential choking hazard.
Minimalist Doll Toys for Babies
Snug Up Doll Luisa 8″ First Doll
Cuddly Lovey Doll
Fox Multi-Sensory Vibrating Plush Toy
Figurines or Dolls Minimalist Toys for Toddlers
Puzzles and Games
I’m lumping here any toy that can help with your kid’s cognitive skills – even babies!
I’ve also taken into consideration toys that can be used way past the baby stage, so you’d get more bang for your buck.
Just get one or two from this list and you and your little one/s are good to go:
Puzzles and Games Minimalist Toys for Babies
baby gym, Stacking cups, toy keys, activity cubes
Puzzles and Games Minimalist Toys for Toddlers
My Very First Games – First Orchard
My Very First Games – Building Site
Colorful Shapes Arranging Game
Minimalist Toy Runners Up
Toddlers can play with these toys in various ways, especially if they’re big enough. They can use it for pretend play, sensory play, and more.
Not really my cup of tea as they destroy my peace of mind and sanity. But kidding aside, hey whatever floats your toddler’s boat will do.
Pretend play toys
Toys like doctor kits, construction kits, farm and jungle sets, etc., can also be an awesome addition to your minimalist toy list.
FAQ on Minimalist Toys
What toys do toddlers really need?
They need something appropriate for their age, current skills, and interests.
If they’re not developmentally ready for nor interested in what a toy can do, then it’s not suitable for them and they most probably won’t play with it.
What are minimalist toys?
They are considered as a limited set of toys that are mostly open-ended, educational, and long-lasting.
How many toys do kids really need?
If you’re gunning for a minimalist lifestyle, 7 to 10 toys then would do.
Can too many toys cause problems?
Yes. It can lead to attention problems, more clutter in the house, taking toys for granted, and more.
Helpful Tips on Minimalist Toys
If you’re just starting to practice the art of minimizing toys in your house, before you get one for your kid/s, declutter their current toys first.
Then do that every time you buy a new toy – for every toy that you get, buy, donate or sell one.
Throw away broken toys or unused toys
If a toy hasn’t been touched in months, give it away. If it’s broken in any way, just throw it out.
A broken toy is an accident waiting to happen while an unused one just takes up space.
• Shop second hand
There are a lot of used yet quality toys that are still in perfect condition. You can buy some via Facebook marketplace, online groups, second-hand apps, and websites.
So there’s no need to splurge too much, especially if you’re eyeing something that can’t fit your budget.
• Teach kids to clean up
Once your little ones are ready, you can start teaching them how to put back the toys in their containers.
Make it into a game, so cleaning would be more fun and engaging for them.
Better to teach them these skills when they’re younger, so they’d get used to the idea of cleaning up their toys after playtime.
• Do toy rotation
Toy rotation is basically limiting the number of toys that are accessible to your kid. Then switching them with the other stored toys regularly.
It has a lot of benefits such as keeping the clutter to a minimum, keeping the toys fresh and novel in your kid’s eyes, improving your child’s attention, and more.
• Create a dedicated toy storage space
It can be something like Ikea’s Trofast storage, a simple bookshelf, or just a few bins or baskets in the room.
Whatever the case may be, it’s necessary to have dedicated storage space for any toy, to avoid clutter.
Takeaway on Minimalist Toys
If you have a newborn, I highly recommend getting the Lovevery Play Gym.
It basically has everything your newborn or baby would need. This means, you don’t need to buy another toy for a year or less, as it has everything that would help your kids reach their developmental milestones.
For toddlers, as long as it’s aligned with their interests, any age-appropriate toy would be done
Heck, just give them some pots and pans or boxes and they’d be happy with it!
Just keep a lookout though for items that they can easily swallow or insert in their noses or ears.
If you’re hesitant to give them everyday items in the house, then it’s best to get them wooden, open ended toys that are safe to use and which can last long.