Does your baby or toddler seem to love new toys much more than other toys? Congratulations, an attraction to novelty is a sign of intelligence. However, buying new toys all of the time is a recipe for losing money, lower savings, and too many toys for too little space.
The answer might lie in a quirk of child memory.
The brain’s memory power isn’t fully present at birth. And, baby’s memory power doesn’t develop all at once either. Instead, like most other higher level brain functions, your child’s memory comes online after birth, and it does so in phases.
Early memory is based upon recognition. In other words, when your child sees a balloon, that triggers the memory of balloons. However, a baby or young toddler does not have the ability to pull up memories on demand. In other words, your child won’t remember balloons until something triggers that memory, whether balloons themselves, or something that reminds them of balloons like a birthday hat, or a certain tablecloth, or t-shirt.
You can use this memory quirk to create “new” toys out of old toys. Hide some of your child’s toys somewhere where they won’t come across them. A box in your closet, or a cabinet that they don’t open or play with are good locations to stash some toys. Keep them there for 6 weeks or so.
After 6 weeks, pull the toys out and place them somewhere where your little one will discover them, like in their toybox. Watch your child’s face light up when they find their “new” toy. It isn’t that they don’t recall having played with the toy before, they do. But, the experience that they remember won’t seem as fresh, or novel, and so, playing with the rediscovered toy will be a big treat.
Be smart about how you go about this. Don’t hide the current favorites. Instead, dig down to the bottom of the toybox or to the back of the closet. These are the toys to hide. As an added bonus, you’ll get more room to store the current toys. Also, make sure that any “linked” toys are either out or put away together.
For example, if you baby girl always plays with a certain doll and a certain car together, don’t put just one of them away, because inevitably, she’ll find one of them and then want the other.
Another useful tip is to have a pre-storage location that is easily accessible. That way, if a certain toy gets requested, you can find it right away without having to dig into a storage bin. Once the toy has been out of sight and mind for a few days, you can safely move it to the longer term storage location.
This way, you can keep that spark of newness alive for both fun and your baby’s brain development, without having to break the bank buying new toys all of the time.