Struggling to limit your child’s screentime? We’ve all been there!

Chances are good you’ve heard the following at least once or twice…

“When I was growing up, we played outside from sunup to sundown.”

“I’m glad I grew up when kids still played instead of looking at a screen all day.”

“When I was a kid our neighborhood had 1 stick and some rocks and we had to share them and that was our fun!”

There’s no doubt that youngsters these days (I can feel myself aging as I type this) often have significantly more interaction with the light from a tablet than they do the light from the sun.

It’s a serious struggle as a parent to not just balance screen time with play time, but to make play time intuitive, fun, and creative. Luckily, there are companies out there still making analogue toys that prompt your children to partake in imaginative play while also encouraging exploration and learning.

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Kinderfeets

kinderfeets balance bike

I’d seen these odd little wooden bikes with the chalkboard paint and no pedals and thought “how would that even work”?

You know what, though? My kid figured it out with essentially no prompting and was beyond excited to roll on down the road!

Kinderfeets makes bikes, trikes, and the like for kids from the age where they can start to totter around up to about 5 years old. Built from wood and metal, they’re sturdy, colorful, and best of all, they’re intuitive. They’re designed in a way that encourages a child to discover how to move them just by pushing with their feet. As they get older, the child can alternate pushing and putting their feet on the pedal-rests to coast. This creates a natural method for learning the balance needed to ride a bike as they get older.

We love them honestly because they’re really neat and they make a great transition tool to real “big kid” bikes without the pain that is training wheels.

Tinkertoys

Boy these things have come a long way since I was a kid, when they were essentially dowel rods and wooden wheels with holes in them. Now there’s a host of different pieces, connectors, patterns, and ideas. Our kids have a lot of different building-type toys, but they seem to be most interested in the Tinkertoys, I think mostly because the designs are so different than traditional interconnected blocks.

I’m not bashing Legos; they’re great (except when you step on them in the middle of the night and your screams wake up the neighborhood). The thing I find more appealing about Tinkertoys for a younger child is that the company gives you some designs to build, but they don’t lock you down into a single design initially. What I mean is that with Legos, you’re buying a Dragon Castle or a Millenium Falcon, and that’s awesome, but it takes away some of the imaginative fun that little kids crave.

Uncle Goose

Wooden blocks are great – they’re a chunky, fun way to learn some letters and also some gross motor skills. The problem with blocks, however, is that they kind of become relegated to the “baby toys” box not too long after your kids figure out how to play with nearly anything else.

But what if you could buy blocks that taught more than a few rudimentary letters and numbers? Uncle Goose specializes in wooden blocks that come in a wide variety of prints and subjects. Some of these include “Women who dared”, the periodic table of elements, and various ancient fossils. This opens up worlds of new play and longevity in a fairly simple product. They’re high-quality and just really, really cool, and the diversity of topics and versions is pretty extensive.

Melissa and Doug

Our kids have had Melissa and Doug toys since they were very young; our son got his first fishing pole puzzle when he was maybe 8 months old. I’ll never forget when he first learned to say “uh-oh” while playing with this toy, it was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

He couldn’t quite work the fishing pole to “catch” the fish with the magnetic tip, but he sure liked grabbing the thick, wooden, colorful pieces (and occasionally trying to eat them, but who can blame him…)

This well loved-on puzzle then went to our daughter, who added her own teeth marks and marker scribbles, and we’re still going to keep it. Melissa and Doug toys are predominately wooden and high-quality toys that are durable enough for the most discerning of toddler taste-buds. They also make storage tables, pretend-play centers (like this adorable lemonade stand), puppet theaters, and all manner of crafting supplies.

We love them because their products will stand up to the abuse that kids throw at them, but they stop short of constraining your children into a specific way of playing. We absolutely love them!

Boon Toys

There’s a ton of toys made for bath time; what makes Boon any different? Well, they offer toys and innovative accessories for meal time and bath time, but they’ve taken it to an adorable level. From starfish and manta ray drain covers to the “frog pod”, a water bucket that doubles as a container for your kids’ endless amount of bath time toys, there’s some really great stuff here.

I think my favorite part of Boon toys are that they’re made with bath in mind, built to avoid some of the gross watery mold problems average bath toys fall victim to.

Limiting Screentime

Unplugged toys are really great for challenging your kids to not be as passively entertained. When kids need to think, look, engage, and learn while they play – especially when they’re younger – they learn problem solving skills and imaginative thinking that will help them all throughout their life. While general wooden blocks can be great, it’s so important to find toys that your children will actually want to play with and that will stand up to test of time.

Now I’m curious – what was YOUR favorite toy as a child? Tell me about in the comments below!

Struggling to limit your child's screentime? Check out these brands that make the best

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