A Cardboard Box Is Better for Your Toddler Than High Tech Toys, AAP Says

It promotes creativity, imagination and interaction, and is a whole lot cheaper.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
Dec 2018
children prefer and have more fun playing with cardboard box
Photo: iStock

Out with the old and in with the new? Not so much.

It’s easy to get taken away by all the bells and whistles modern playthings offer, but you can’t judge a toy by its price tag—especially when it comes to developmental value for your little one.

Simpler, hands-on toys parents and kids can play with together are better for healthy development, says Alan Mendelsohn, MD, co-author of a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Classic playtime activities like building blocks and puzzles help shape creativity and imagination in young minds.

Even a cardboard box has big play value. “A cardboard box can be used to draw on, or made into a house,” Mendelsohn explains to Time.

“The best toys are those that support parents and children playing, pretending and interacting together,” says Mendelsohn. “You just don’t reap the same rewards from a tablet or screen. And when children play with parents—the real magic happens, whether they are pretending with toy characters or building blocks or puzzles together.”

The report suggests the heavy use of electronics interferes with children’s speech and language development, replaces important playtime with parents and leads to obesity.

The AAP recommends no screen time until baby is at least 18 months old, and toddlers between the age of 2 and 5 should should spend, at most, one hour watching TV.

“The more we know about early brain development, the more we understand the need for play that is based on human interaction,” says Aleeya Healey, MD, a lead author of the report. “There is no screen, video game or app that can replace the relationships built over toys.”

Wondering what toys you should really be getting your little one during his first year? We break it all down for you in this helpful guide.

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