Is That a Girl’s Toy?

Dolls are for girls. Trucks are for boys. And, they seem to know it.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting issues.

This week’s Moms Talk topic relates to gender-specific toys:

The holiday season has finally wrapped up and, if you have kids in your house, you probably have a few more toys in your home too. This week’s Moms Talk relates to the kinds of toys you let your kids play with, and, more importantly, whether or not it matters. Studies have shown that boys as young as nine months old gravitate toward “boy toys” like cars and balls while baby girls pick dolls and tiny kitchen sets. But, other experts say the jury is still out on the whole nature vs. nurture debate. If your little girl wants a truck, is that OK? If your son asks for a Barbie, do you get it for him?

Share your thoughts:

Is there such a thing as a girl’s toy?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.
  • Jennifer Willenbrock of Nazareth is mom to two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 6 weeks. She was previously employed by Catholic Charities, where she worked in a girl’s group home in Philipsburg, N.J.

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Lisa Merk January 08, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Since we are an all boy house here, we have all boy toys. BUT, if one of my boys asked me for a doll I would have no problem giving it to him. Also, if I had a daughter and she wanted a truck, no problem at all. They are TOYS to PLAY with and chances are (if it did bother you) it wouldn't be long before they will be on to something else.
Beth January 08, 2012 at 09:55 PM
That's a good question. The funny thing is, when our 5 year old girl was little, we encouraged her to play with cars and boy things, she really didn't have much interest. Now that we have a little boy, he is all about the trucks and trains, etc. He also has fun playing with dolls, but not nearly as much fun as with the cars etc. It must be hard wired into them somehow. To answer the question, though-I would have no problem if either one of them asked to play with either a truck, or a doll.
Carmella Obst January 08, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I remember, as a young girl---my brother always had the much cooler toys---the tiny soldiers, the buildings with elevators and ramps for little cars, the "electric football" set, erector sets, toy trucks for playing outside in the dirt. His toys were so much more interesting and fun to play with---and thankfully he shared! However, I still enjoyed my "Tiny Tears" doll----so it was the best of both worlds!
Jennifer Elston January 09, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I have 2 girls who willingly play with "boy toys." We've bought them toy cars & boats, spy paraphernalia, Lincoln Logs, etc. My eldest daughter prefers everything blue for that matter. As much as we've tried to keep the toy opinions gender neutral, my girls do naturally gravitate toward "girl toys." I don't care if they are given "boy toys." A toy is a toy to me. Additionally, and a little off topic, I found this part of an article on wiki extremely interesting: "An article in the trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department in June 1918 said: "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." From then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided color, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color, or related to the Virgin Mary."
Jeanne January 09, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I have a boy and a girl and they both play with what you would say are "sex appropriate" toys the majority of the time, however, there are times that my boy has wanted to play with make up when he was really little or a doll. AND more so than not, my daughter, constantly wants to play with "boy toys" and has wrestlers and trucks in her room. Although, I do let them express their play however they feel they want to, I also try to guide them to pick more sex appropriate toys so that they have things to play with when they're friends come over. I didn't have much to do with my son, but my daughter is very in to boy toys and does not like girly things at all. So for her, I try to guide her, every once and a while to get a doll or to play with some girly things, so that when she has her friends over they aren't bored or making fun of her. It's one thing when she has little boys over - they love it....but little girls, are taken back and a lot of times wind up getting bored. So as she has gotten older, it has gotten better and she is now well rounded and can play with both boy and girl toys (although I think she still prefers the boy toys.
Mary Ellen Alu (Editor) January 09, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Yes, as a youngster, it was my brother who had the cool toys. But I really loved my Barbies too!
Mary Ellen Alu (Editor) January 09, 2012 at 02:10 AM
My 6-year-old daughter LOVES trucks and cars, along with stuffed animals. I haven't given it any thought really.
DB January 09, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I have 2 boys, one an adult now and the other soon to be, and we always held that all toys were just that, toys. If we separate toys by gender, we tend to also assign chores by gender, followed by careers by gender. If I had daughters, I would do the same. I prune our trees, shovel snow, do the ironing, prepare meals BUT my husband does the dishes, mows the lawn, makes meals and such. One year our oldest wanted a tea set for Christmas and my father-in-law was upset Santa had brought it for him. He loved that toy and his kitchen set as much as his trucks and legos. Balance is a good thing. Also, my sons know that they are expected to do whatever jobs need to be done. There are no jobs (chores) that are women's work or man's work. Start them young.
Pat Vallese January 09, 2012 at 01:26 PM
What are "girl" toys, other then dolls with dresses, and Tea Sets? Trucks, Trains, and Army gear might have been boy toys back in the 50's-60's; but today women grow up using these items, so they are not genendered, if thats a word.Sports gear is used by everyone these days. The normal, as we think it stems from the "Old Days"....the 50's...so speaking for myself....a boy playing with a barbie, dressing her in different outfits, can mean only one thing....he wants to be on "Project Runway", and meet Heidi Klum....what red blooded male would not want that?!
Lenny January 09, 2012 at 03:20 PM
My son has played with my daughters baby dolls, BUT in the context of being a Daddy, and my daughter being the Mommy. I see nothing wrong with that, because he is doing it in a masculine role. Now if he was playing dressup and makeup with them then that would be a different story. The majority of the time, he is playing with his cars and trains no differently than any other red blodded American boy.
Mary Anne Looby January 09, 2012 at 03:45 PM
That is very interesting Jennifer, thanks for sharing the article.
Lisa Amey January 09, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I have a boy and a girl, and although our playroom is somewhat separated, it is a function of their wanting "MY toys" in a certain area. There has always been a lot of crossover either way, and that's totally fine with me.
Peggy Heminitz January 09, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I have three boys who are now grown with chidren of their own. We bought a kitchen set for them to play with when they were young. They loved it! And they have all advanced to the "real" kitchen and now cook meals for their families.
Jennifer Elston January 09, 2012 at 09:12 PM
This topic made me think of the skit, William Wants A Doll from Free To Be You and Me. It's about a boy who wants a doll and everyone calls him a sissy-including his own father. It wasn't until William's paternal grandmother addressed HER son about how HE learned to be a father by practicing with HIS doll did William get a doll.
Jennifer Marangos (Editor) January 10, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Before I was a MOB (mother of boys) I would have said, "oh no, there is no such thing as a boy's toy." There are many incidents that have proven otherwise to me. One was after I gave my boys my Rub-a-dub Dolly (anyone remember her?). They took her into the tub to bathe her, since I explained to them that's what I used to do. I was listening to them in the tub, thinking how sweet it was. Then I heard my older child say, "gimme another washcloth. I'm pretty sure that will make her sink." Boys make girl's toys into boy's toys...


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