With Christmas just around the corner, the stark reality of the lack of diversity in children’s toys is becoming all too clear. TV and online adverts showcase the usual dolls and teddies, but what is there to see for parents seeking ‘toys that look like me’?
The search term ‘diversity dolls’ receives 260 Google searches every month, highlighting the demand from families for inclusive toys. Children’s toy retailer, The Kid Collective has investigated the market to see where families are being let down.
General clinical practitioner Dr Hana Patel was involved in the research.
‘Toys are essential for many reasons, not just for the pleasure of playing. We introduce babies to lights, sounds and toys to help them develop the motor skills they need to move their fingers and toes. As children get older, toys teach children social constructs such as sharing and taking turns. It’s crucial to encourage them to learn about the world around them so they get an understanding about different ethnicities, disabilities, genders and cultures, and learn about empathy and acceptance of differences.’
Children who wear glasses or hearing implants, for instance, would benefit greatly from playing with dolls which showcase these aids. Yet Mattel has only recently launched the first Barbie doll with hearing aids, which suggests there’s still a long way to go.
Dr Hana adds: ‘I think parents and those in educational settings should introduce toys such as diversity dolls right from the start. There should be inclusive toys in nurseries and play settings, and they should be part of the range of toys in any toy shop.”
Founder of The Kid Collective, Laura Davies, says: ‘It’s great to see more toy brands manufacturing toys with visible differences, and we’re so proud to stock such a wide range of inclusive toys. But the regular searches for “toys that look like me” just proves that many children’s toy brands are failing in offering this option, and with Christmas around the corner I’m hoping to see brands launching more inclusive toys.’