The Case Against Toys

My mother texted me last week and asked me about a couple of gifts she was thinking about for my twins for Christmas (she shops early). I googled the items she was referring to and read about the products. When I read the words “teaches your child,” “educational,” and “your child will learn,” I knew the toys were not for us. Ironically, the toys that “teach” your child actually counteract learning and stunt development. Shocker, right?

I refuse to have toys in my home that teach my children.


I texted my mom back and reminded her that I don’t allow toys that have batteries or electricity. In fact, I dont have toys in my home that “do” things. A toy that does for a child robs them of the opportunity to do. The play becomes limited by what the toy has been programmed to do. It does not require imagination, problem solving, creativity, exploration, or observation. It is entertaining the child, which is not what play is about. It’s not about entertainment or distraction.

Play is a child’s natural language. It is how they make sense of their world, how they communicate, how they express feelings, and how they process their experiemces. Play by definition is intrinsically motivated, therefore a toy that gives the same response each time a button is pushed, or a lever is pulled, trains the child to seek extrinsic reward, rather than introinsic. So, once again, play is negatively affected.


As a Play Therapist I always felt saddened by the child who would come into the playroom filled with open-ended toys, pick up a toy and try to press a button. They’d search desperately for an off/on switch, something to push, pull, turn on somehow before finally looking at me and exclaiming, “It’s broken” or “What does it do?” This child has been programmed for toys to  do the work for him and he no longer knows how to play.


Toys do not need names either. A toy that comes with a name, or a label, pulls the child from fantasy and anchors them to reality. This is not a good thing. I don’t want my children growing up thinking a stick is just a stick and a box is just a box. The possibilities for items like this should be endless to a child’s imagination. I once put a whisk on the play tray of my five month old son’s walker and my stepson said, “Why did you give him a whisk?” I told him it’s not a whisk to the baby, it could be anything the baby wants it to be. He looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said, “But what else could it be?” Again, how sad. This child has lost the ability to imagine.

So…what do they play with?

  • ribbons
  • tin foil
  • bubble wrap, corks, sponges
  • spatulas, whisks, ladels, egg beaters
  • Measuring cups
  • salad spinners, drainers, muffin tins
  • egg cartons, boxes
  • bags
  • blocks
  • balls
  • cars, trains, planes (wooden toys)
  • books
  • crayons, shaving cream, play doh
  • musical toys, wooden toys
  • blankets
  • bubbles
  • swings, slides, ladders, jungle gyms
  • hula hoops, jump ropes
  • figurines


If you buy your children pop up tents how will they learn to build forts? If you buy them the bubble machine how will they learn to blow bubbles? If you buy hot wheels track you’re limiting how far and which direction the cars can go? Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not grow up using iPads and tech toys…they grew up playing with what was around them and as a result they learned how to think and they became creators.

So, my children will not watch TV. They will not have ipads. They will not use smart phones until age appropriate and they will not play with toys that need batteries or need to be plugged in. They will learn to be resourceful, creative, and imaginative to play and to make sense of the world around them.

Stay gold,

That Girl


Christmas Gift Guide: Babies, Moms, Tots

For Christmas this year I’ll be getting a nephew! I’ll also have an 18 month old niece to play Santa to. This got me thinkin’…what are the perfect gifts for babies, moms, and tots?

Christmas Gift Guide

For lil bambinos (aka “babies” for y’all southern folk)…

Rompers, footies, and ‘jammers from Baby Soy organic clothing



Patterned soft blocks

Musical Farmyard Learning Cube

Thermal Baby Bottle by Pacific Baby:

This is the world’s first thermal baby bottle that keeps milk (or other liquids) hot or colf for up to 7 hours! This is perfect for travelers, babies on-the-go, or late night feedings at the bedside. It’s not just for babies either! Kiddos from birth to 5 years old will love this easy to grip, nontoxic, dishwasher safe 7oz to 9oz bottle/sip cup. It’s free from BPA, PVC, pthalates, and any other yucky stuff we don’t want our precious ones consuming.

Swaddle blankets that double as nursing covers and sun shields

Hungry Pelican

Receiving Blankets (perfect to monogram)

Keekaroo Peanut Changer, Booster Seat or High Chair

mimijumi_logo Only the best baby bottle on the market! The innovative nipple design replicates a mother’s breast, creating a natural feeding and latching experience for a happier and healthier bottle fed baby. Bold colors and soft textures are combined to give the Mimijumi bottle a distinctive, eye-catching appearance. All mimijumi bottles are BPA and latex free, and exceed US safety standards.

  • Easy to openmimijumi-bottle-sideways
  • Easy to clean
  • Integrated venting prevents colic
  • Screw on one-piece nipple
  • Skid-free base
  • Top rack dishwasher-safe
  • BPA-, and latex- free
  • Exceeds US safety standards

Mushroom Nursery HumidifierHape Play Cube

Hape Play Cube

Woombie Swaddle Sacks

Hats, mittens, booties


For the tots and other wee ones…


Plush Rocking HorseMelissa-Doug-Plush-Rock-and-Trot-Rocking-Horse-P13838688

Stacking Train or Train Set

Shape Sorters

Discovery Space Center


melissa-and-doug shape sorter

Pacific Baby Natural Bamboo Feeding: Picture filling this BPA free, nontoxic, bamboo feeding bowl filled with hot oatmeal Christmas morning, sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, and candied cranberries! Or, top their bamboo plates with pumpkin pancakes and fresh maple syrup after discovering what Santa brought. Pacific Baby, Inc., natural bamboo, eco-friendly feeding products include bowl, cup, plates, and utensils are biodegradable, machine washable, and durable.

Toddler Scoot AroundHape-Scoot-Around-lifestyle

Dress-up clothes

Grand Piano

Growth Ruler by White Loft

Fold and Go Castles, Dollhouses, or Barns

Goldieblox & Her Spinning Machine 


Pretend Kitchen or Master Workbench

Christmas Cookie Set

Christmas Cookie set2

Nesting & Sorting ABC CubesMelissa & Doug-toys-shopwholeheart

Fill & Spill Set

Monster Bowling Game

Adorable Animal Humidifier

Magnetic Toys


PacificPlayTent-logoPacific Play Tents: Over 50 different kinds of play Pacific Play Tentstents, tunnels, teepees, parachutes and cabanas! There’s even a super cool space tunnel tent for your lil’ explorer. Pacific Play Tents offer hours of imaginary play time and they offer free shipping on orders over $50. Get a teepee or camo tent for the backyard and host a campout, fill a pop up tent with stuffed animals and books for a reading corner, or use the tents below for pretend play in the playroom. Kiddos love spaces that are all their own and these play tents provide just that!

For moms-to-be, new moms, or veteran moms…

Spa day! You can’t go wrong with a spa day or spa certificate. I love Lake Austin Spa and Milk & Honey Spa!

Kendra Scott jewelry

PJs or Nightgown

Lalabu Soothe Shirt


Air Purifier or Humidifier (for more sleep!)

Pottery Barn potpurri or Reed Difusers (mission fig rocks my world)

The Knock Nanny

I’m obsessed with the Tiffany Blue Hunter boots!

Boots! Uggs or Hunter boots

Worry-Free Bath Products by Original Sprout

City Mini Baby Jogger

Tiffany & Co. (you can never go wrong with a gift that comes in a robin’s egg blue bag or box)

Scarves, boot socks, or gloves

Travel coffee mug

Fleece or knit throws

Stocking Stuffers!

Don’t forget the stockings! My mother asked me this year if she (aka “Santa”) needed to do stockings, “Chelsea, you’re almost 32 years old, do I still need to do a stocking?” My reply, “Um? Yeah!”

  • Neat Cheeks stevia sweetened face wipes
  • Napinol Nursery Therapies
  • Ringley Teethers
  • Organic cotton baby Buddies
  • Sleep SheepJudanzy Christmas Bow
  • Pacifiers
  • Miracle Detangler
  • Tooth Tissues
  • Babyganics Hand Sanitizer
  • Hair bows and accessories
  • Wysi Wipes

Many (if not all) of the above gifts can be found at!

Enter below to WIN a Cossettie Shopping Cart & High Chair Cover and Cossettie Portable Changing Mat!

Cossettie Changing Mat

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Magical Magic Beans

Have you discovered Magic Beans yet? They’re like the Costco of baby stores featuring everything you could possibly need for pregnancy, newborns, and toddlers. They feature…



You can shop by age, category, interests, brand, or just browse them all!

  • Infant Toys
  • Toddler Toys
  • Bath Toys
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Building Blocks & Construction Toys
  • Planes, Trains & Automobiles
  • Dolls & Action Figures
  • Dress Up & Pretend Play
  • Stuffed Animals & Puppets
  • Games & Puzzles
  • Science Kits & Educational Toys
  • Sci-Fi & Magic
  • Musical Toys & Instruments
  • Books
  • Sports & Outdoor Activities
  • Organic & Wooden Toys


They’ve got all the top brands of single strollers, double strollers, and stroller accessories! I love the Orbit Baby G3 system, the Stokke Xplory system, and of course the Bugaboo Donkey (a celeb favorite!)


Magic Beans has a HUGE selection of carseats for your newborn, infant, or toddler and they have a HUGE selection of booster seats and accessories. My favorite is the Nuna Pipa that has a bar that locks behind the seat for maximum safety!

Cribs & Nursery Furniture!

You can choose from almost 40 different cribs and bassinets including the Stokke Sleepi that grows with your baby fro a bassinet to a crib to a toddler bed! They also have chic, modern options like the Monti design Ninna Nanna, featured below. With over 80 mattresses to choose from though, I’d go with organic versions only!

Stokke Sleepi

Diaper Stuff

Magic Beans has Honest Co. organic diapers, Grovia cloth diapers, wet bags, diaper pails and even potty training seats like the one from Baby Bjorn.

Baby Gear

Their baby gear category features over 40 baby carriers like the new Boba featuring Jamie Grayson, TheBabyGuyNYC and more than 20 bouncers and rockers like the Nuna Leaf or the 4Moms Mamaroo! (both have been rumored to keep baby snoozing safely for hours on end!) I love the modern Bloom Coco Lounger, too!

Bloom Coco Longer…how chic is this?!


Magic Beans has clothing selections from Kickee Pants, Kushie, and Magnificent Baby, ranging from onesies, to footies, to sleeping gowns.

Gift Baskets

The Magic Beans “WOW” baskets come in 9 different themes that you get to custom build, but they do the prettifying for you. They’ve got Mini Maco, Sugar&Spice, Little Mozart, Play’s the Thing, Nighty Nite, Hungry Baby, For a Change, Squeaky Clean, and Wicked Awesome (for Boston fans).

Play Things gift basket $60

So, click on one of the images above to shop that category at Magic Beans or click the Magic Beans logo below and create a gift registry or baby shower registry or just shop!

Melissa and Doug Halloween Costumes? What the What?!

It’s no secret that Melissa and Doug rock my world and that I personally think they’re the greatest designers of classic toys, and learning toys EVER, but did you know that they also have a FULL selection of dress-up sets and costumes?!

What the what?!

There were several Halloweens growing up where I went as a “baseball player” (wearing my actual baseball uniform) or I went as a “zombie dancer” and wore my dance recital costume and “scary” make-up. Of course, I thought this was so lame when I was a kid, but I realize now that my parents were just too smart to spend $50-60 bucks on a child’s Halloween costume. Luckily, now there are way better options now!

Melissa and Doug dress-up sets are not only a fantastic addition to a playroom for imaginary playtime, but they also double as great Halloween costumes.

Wearing something from your dress-up box for Halloween? Lame.

Wearing a brand new Halloween costume that later ends up in your dress-up box? Awesome! (and smart)

If you know kids like I do, you KNOW the above statements are 100% true. So, let your child browse the costumes and dress up sets HERE for under $30 and then use them in the dress-up boxes later! It’s a win-win! Here a just a few of the options…

  • Cowgirl
  • Doctor
  • Fire Chief
  • Rock Star
  • Mermaid
  • Knight
  • Cowboy
  • Police Officer
  • Veterinarian
  • Princess
  • Explorer/Safari
  • Pirate
  • Waitress
  • Chef
  • Construction Worker
  • Ballerina

My New BFFs: Melissa & Doug

Meet Melissa and Doug, my two new best friends! As a Play Therapist, a Child Life Specialist, and a former elementary teacher I know the value of play. More importantly, I know the value of open-ended play.

Melissa and Doug are the masters of designing open-ended toys! No, an open-ended toy is not a toy that opens on one end. An open-ended toy is a toy with infinite possibilities for play. Think about the difference between a closed question and an open-ended statement.

Closed question: “Did you have a good day at school?”

What’s the answer?: It’s either, “Yes” or “No”, right?

Well with an open-ended statement like, “Tell me about your day”, the possibilities for the response are endless! You may hear about playing cowboys and aliens at recess, or the unindentifiable ingredient discovered in the cafeteria meatloaf, or how they went on a safari in their minds during a really dull math lesson.

An open-ended toy is the same; endless possibilities! For example, a Fold & Go Castle could be a castle, but it could also be a fortress, an orphanage, a hospital, a school, or a bank that’s about to be robbed. A Geometric Shape Sorter may be an item for sorting shapes, but it could also be a bomb, a purse, a space ship of polygon aliens, or a home for a family of shapes with names and unique personalities that only your child’s imagination is privvy to.

Closed toys such as electronics or battery operated devices actually work against play and stunt the development and imagination and creativity. How can the bear be an ally at war when everytime I squeeze it he shouts, “ha ha, that tickles?” Or, how can that expensive kitchen be a chemistry lab for secret potions when everytime they open the oven it sings, “Thanks for baking a cake”. Toys that play for the child, or only have one way of being played with, pull the children out of their fantasy and anchor them to reality. This is not a good thing!


Allowing our children to live in their imagination, explore, design, and create is what makes great thinkers and problem solvers later in life. Here are a few examples of open-ended, creative toys for kids:

  • Trucks, cars, planes, vehicles
  • Building blocks, legos, bricks
  • Construction sets & tools
  • Dress up costumes and role play items
  • Household items (pots, plans, sponges, boxes)
  • Play food
  • Arts and crafts materials
  • Clay, play-doh, goop and gak
  • Balls, marbles
  • Animals, people
  • Textured items
  • Dolls, action figures

A huge selection of open-ended toys can be found HERE on