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Looking for a Baby Toy? Is That for a Girl or a Boy?
- Gaynor Humphrey
Its funny how many baby toys are gender specific when the difference between a new born baby girl and baby boy is strictly limited to the obvious one!
Many people think that the "Pink for a Girl and Blue for a Boy" is a tradition which goes back hundreds of years, but in fact its a relatively recent trend.
Victorians clothed both boys and girls in white and it wasn't until early 20th Century that the idea of different colours for girls and boys emerged. Funnily enough in the begining it was blue for girls due to the colours association with the Virgin Mary.
Even in the 1970s most kids toys were primary colours such as yellow and red. A kids first bike was just that, there was no such thing as a girls bike and a boys bike. It was more practical as it was a lot easier to buy one bike and pass it down to younger siblings if the bike was red.
Gender neutral colours in toys makes sense as it is believed that children is do not understand about gender until between the ages of 3 - 5 years old. At this age they begin to understand that they're a boy or a girl, but they don't really understand that this is a permanent thing. They really do believe that a little girl who gets her hair cut turns in to a boy, and a boy who wears a dress is now a girl.
It wasn't until the 1980s that the whole pink for a girl and blue for a boy really took off. Some people believe that this is because this was the decade where it became more common for parents to find out the gender of their baby in the womb. This then allowed for months of nursery planning and gender specific colours grew on the back of that. Another theory is that women who were brought up in the militantly gender neutral 1960s and 1970s couldn't wait to splurge all the pinks on their babies that they were denied during their own childhood.
From there things progressed to became ludicrously gender specific. I remember once having to convince a shop assistant that I was happy to buy the shoes with rockets on them that my 2yr old daughter wanted even though they were "boys shoes".
However it wasn't just that kids were being offered an ever decreasing selection of colours to chose from which was the issue but that the clothes reinforced certain gender stereotypes. Girls were offered "WAG Wanna Be" t-shirts while boys were invariably Naughty and Brave. Play Kitchens became for girls and Fire Engines were for boys ignoring the fact that both these professions are open to either gender.
Inevitably there was a backlash against this segregation of toys and clothes by gender. Gender neutral toys and clothes are now increasing in popularity and commonly available. There is even a rise in popularity of unisex names such as Eden and River.
We are happy to offer a wide range of unisex baby toys which would make great baby toys for any baby. Tactile, robust and machine washable they make the perfect baby gift for all children.
However we are not anti pinks and blues, just when it starts to segregate kids off in to gender stereo typed roles. We have some lovely pink and blue toys because sometimes thats what you want. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to dress your boy in blue if thats your choice and it is certainly a lot easier when buying a baby gift to get pink or blue!
We believe that neither gender specific or unisex are right or wrong, its a personal choice. What is wrong is when people are not given the choice, when boys toys are just cars and girls are only offered dolls. If a child does not even understand their own gender until they are 5 years old then allowing toys to define a child's interests does not make sense. Some girls are interested in science and some boys want to play with toy kitchens, both are likely to enjoy being creative whether thats with paints or clay and this creativity and potential should not be influenced by toy companies or retailers segregating toys by colour.
On a more practical note if you want your kids to play together then giving the girl a pink doll and the boy blue cars is unlikely to give them the common ground they need. Give them both dinosaurs or farmyard animal toys and the chances of them playing together increases significantly.
What do you think? Are you a fan of pink and blue or do you prefer unisex toys?