I think that having a lot of things for your baby or kid like lots of toys or other distractions (iPad, presents, bad food with sugar) is not a good thing. This could create a behavior of only doing minimal effort to get what you want in life.

That said, the grandma of my baby is always giving her a lot of presents. I know that is the way that she demonstrates her love for my baby but for reasons explained lines above I don't think that a baby with a lot of things is a good idea.

My baby is 1 year and 2 months old. Is it a good idea at this age to have so many toys?

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    At 1 year old? It's not bad; it's just a waste of toys. Baby's oblivious the the fact it's "so much" and could be just as satisfied with a wooden spoon on a pot (try it!). Now, fast-forward 2 years? Then I think it becomes a problem. In my experience it can affect expectations and sense of entitlement ("rewards for neutral behaviour"). I was in a similar situation and where possible try to intercept items with neither party knowing, re-gifting them to the child ("from" the original person) at more appropriate times, or just spread out more evenly for "maximum enjoyment and appreciation."
    – ashleedawg
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 1:52
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    Did someone buy your 14 month-old an iPad? Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 5:08
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    As a warning to other readers the AAP recommends no screen time for kids 18 months or younger. For children 2-5 one hour per day or less. cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/screen-time-media-rules-children-aap/…
    – Pete B.
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 11:42
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    How many is 'lots'? There's no sense of scale in this question. 'lots' is relative. 2, 3, 5, 10? Are they expensive presents or bargin-bin stuff?
    – Pharap
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 14:05
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    I had a friend who "Encouraged" their child to give extra presents to children who need them, just keeping their favorite one or two. If done right I think this could foster a great sense of empathy that is sorely missing in the world these days. If done wrong it could really mess a kid up I suppose :)
    – Bill K
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 16:19

8 Answers 8


I think that having a lot of things for your baby or kid is not a good thing, like toys or any other distraction (ipad, presents, bad food with sugar). This could create a behavior of only doing minimal effort to get what you want in life.

Hold on, these are not all correlated to behavior. If you don't want your kid to play on an iPad, don't give them an iPad. If you don't want your kid eating sugar, don't give them sugar. These aren't life lessons, they are rules. Not raising an entitled or spoiled child has nothing to do with X number of toys they have or what they are given. Rich children that have everything they want can grow up to have a work ethic and empathy, and poor children can still be raised as spoiled brats depending on the lessons and reinforcement you provide.

Having lots of any one thing doesn't lump your child into an arbitrary category. What will is the direction you provide while they grow up. Grandma can give all the toys she wants, but a spoiled child comes not from random gifts, it comes from when you take them to a store or toy store, they grab something they want and throw a fit until you give in. It comes from them bending the rules and knowing they can break them or not keep up their end of the deal. It comes from knowing consequences won't be enforced. Not to sound harsh, but your child is 1. Having a million dollars worth of toys from Grandma is not even going to register as a blip right now, and she certainly isn't going to learn about giving minimal effort from an excess of toys.

The idea of behavior comes not from any physical item they are allowed to have, iPad, toys, whatever, it comes from the lessons that are reinforced and the boundaries that are made when encountering situations as they grow up which you provide a teachable moment and stick to your guns. Sugar in general is different just because you don't want to rot the child's teeth out, but even a cookie once in a while isn't going to hurt anything. Let children be children but steer them as a parent to make good choices when you can. If you arbitrarily set limits on everything they do in life, they are going to grow up with bitterness and animosity towards YOU, and things like that lead to them acting out when they get in a situation where they can do as they please. I think parents in general can get too absorbed in the whats and the limits as a means to an end, aka a well adjusted person, and not focus on the ideas behind actions that lead to that.

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    ""a spoiled child comes not from random gifts, it comes from when you take them to a store or toy store, they grab something they want and throw a fit until you give in."" Unrelated, but IME the best way to deal with this is to catch the child before they go into a tantrum, and state that they can have it, as long as they have enough money to pay for it. That redirects their anger/frustration to something out of both of your control, as well as teaching them about money, etc. Rewriting these sorts of things as life lessons is easily one of the best skills to develop :^)
    – Aster
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 6:40
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    @FinnO'leary that only works if your child can even understand a concept of money. I know plenty of 1 or 2 year-olds that will scream for a toy, but good luck trying to teach them what money is and how to earn it. Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 14:17
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    @NathanMerrill My toddler has a glass jar that he gets to put a marble in whenever he puts his dishes away, helps me out with something, etc. When the jar fills up he earns a toy. I've found it's a good way to handle the money thing in a more visual way.
    – kuhl
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 17:41
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    "Not to sound harsh, but your child is 1" One down, 17 to go. Today's questions inform a lifetime of choices.
    – Beanluc
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 21:43
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    One thing to add to this is if the child loses a toy (or the promise of one) due to bad behavior, but grandma gives it to him anyway, that is a recipe for being spoiled.
    – Bobson
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 13:39

At that age, there are pros and cons to having lots of toys, generally they're very superficial. For example:

Pro: Very easily bored baby has lots of variety

Con: Parents have lots of picking up to do

If you don't want your child to "have" lots of toys but feel bad getting rid of gifts from grandma, find a place to store them that they don't know about and only keep a few out at a time. You can then swap them out when you/baby get bored with them. This makes it seem like there's only ever a few toys in the house while there are, in fact many. Alternatively, if you have a daycare, they love toy donations and it's a great way to teach sharing. Thirdly, if you want to teach about working for things you want, make the number of toys out a reward system. You'd be surprised what kinds of lessons sink in even at that age.

As for grandma, talk to her and see if she'd be willing to take the money she would spend on toys and put it toward a college saving or supplies you need like diapers if she wants something more immediate.

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    +1 "find a place to store them that they don't know about and only keep a few out at a time" a fantastic solution Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 9:15
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    +1 for "see if she'd be willing to ... put it toward a college saving". This will provide her grandchild a future that no toys in the world can provide.
    – Alexander
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 10:49
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    +1 for this. My parents did this with my sisters, who had way too many toys to play with. Seven plastic storage boxes, labeled with days of the week, and rotated daily.
    – Aaron F
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 10:24

This article with headline "Too many toys are bad for children, study suggests" writes about this issue:

Researchers at the University of Toledo in Ohio, US, recruited 36 toddlers and invited them to play in a room for half an hour, with either four toys, or 16 toys.

They found that youngsters were far more creative when they had fewer toys to play with. They also played with each for twice as long, thinking up more uses for each toy and lengthening and expanding their games.

The authors conclude that parents, schools and nurseries should pack away most of their toys and just rotate a small number regularly, to encourage children to become more creative and improve their attention spans.

Maybe you could print out this article and give it to grandma and ask her to read it. This is probably best to do at some time other than when she just have given your daughter a toy.

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    Anecdote supporting this idea: Recently I took my 4yo daughter with me to a car repair shop. I was expecting it to take about 15 minutes, so I didn't bring any toys or snacks. It ended up taking more than 2 hours. My daughter happily played pretend in the waiting room with literally zero toys.
    – Marsh
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 18:25
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    A study with 36 participants is worthless.
    – Robert
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 21:07
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    @Robert - A study with 36 participants is not worthless, it's called a start. And it's better than unsupported opinion. Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 3:37
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    @Robert The number of participants needed for a meaningful result depends entirely on effect size. One participant serves fully well to prove that cyanide is toxic to humans, and a billion still wouldn't be enough to determine if a single stubbed toe affects your lifespan.
    – mbrig
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 18:12
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    A study with 36 participants is a study with 36 participants – you take it for what it's worth. It's a grain of evidence supporting a theory that might happen to be applicable to your family, not unassailable proof of a universal truth.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 21:01

I learned with my son that at this age they tend to lose interest quickly, even with new toys. You could try to explain this to your child’s grandma and say to her in a nice way that you really appreciate how much she adores her granddaughter, but that presence is more important than presents at this age.

I think all grandparents enjoy spoiling their grandchildren, so your request could fall on deaf ears. My sons grandparents never listened to me and I had oodles of toys just sat in a toy box that he hardly played with!

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    "Presence is more important than presents". I like that. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 22:59
  • Presence could be a present. ;-) Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 9:49

At your daughter's age, there is plenty of time to work it out. A one year old has no sense of possessions, they own the world. See how it goes.

As the child matures up to teenage, I wouldn't push back if the gifts are of modest value. That can easily be explained away as a Grandma's abundant love for them. Teachable opportunity for the child to be thankful. Send notes, drawings, and pictures to Grandma.

If Grandma wants to buy big ticket items for a teenager, time to push back.

If too many toys accumulate, donate to charity.

My children were my mother's first grandchildren and the number of presents was over the top. Sadly she passed away a few years later. Count you blessings and roll with it.


You're mashing together some different things: - too many toys - sugar/sweets - ipad/tablet.

Let's look at these independantly:

Sweets: too much sweets is certainly bad for anyone, especially a child. It's bad for their teeth, and the human metabolic response to sugar is like the response to an addictive drug. We didn't give our child sweets until he was old enough to ask for them and knew what he was missing (for us that happend around 2 and a half). Even now (at 4) we keep a close eye on the sweet consumption, but he has a reasonably healthy attitude to sweets.

I know some parents that kept the sweets away from their kids for a longer time, but I have the impression this leads to the children craving and fetishising the sweets as much as being too liberal with them. You gotta teach kids to eat sweets responsibly.

Tablets: The research indicates that tablets (and screen time in general) is bad for developing children. My wife is an educator and keeps up with the literature on this stuff. I'll try to follow up here with concrete references and professional guidelines, but googline "smartphones and baby development" will give a good indication of the current scientific consensus on the subject. You would do well to keep tables or smartphones out of the hands of your children, as well as keep them away from the television or streaming video or whatever for as long as you can.

Toys: I'm less aware of the scientific research on this subject, but the first noble truth of the Buddha is we are inherently unsatisfied. Give people more and they want more. This is especially true of babies, and if you keep giving kids gifts of rewards all the time, they will quickly normalize to this state, and get more demanding. I see this every Christmas: my kids, and the neighbors' too get a lot of special treatment over the christmas and they head down the spectrum towards spoiled bratty behavior. A few weeks later and they have headed back to their normal brattyness or spoiledness levels. I took my kid to Europapark in the days leading to Easter, and between that and Easter, I saw the same thing -- a reduced ability to cope with disappointment and less pleasure in the things that would normally make him happy. Pretty much human nature.

I had to give my mom strict rules about the sugar and handy stuff. As for the toys, my wife and I gently nudge the relatives to take it easy, and when things get too crowded we pass things on to needier children.

It's a hard topic, but I think you would be wise to chat it over with Grandma in a friendly way. If it's your wife's mother, you might be better off having your wife have the chat.

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    I like a lot of things in this answer, but I'd like to comment on giving out of your excess to needier children. It's a gem of an idea filled with teachable moments, although one potential awkward moment might happen when Grandma asks, "Are the kids enjoying their new such-and-such?" (Then again, that might be a teachable moment for the grandmother.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 21:05

There are great answers about "is it bad?" but here is what we do since it seems we are a magnet to everybody's used toys around us. We keep only a few toys out in shelves (look up Montessori shelve for ideas), all the rest is stored. Once in a while, we would rotate the toys. Ask them (when older) which one should be stored and which one should be out. This keeps our place organized. Later, talk about which one should be given away to other kids.


A child of that age will not be able to handle that many toys all at once. You can however rotate the selection and put just 2 or 3 items in his/her play area.

I'm not yet a grandparent but I can image that Grandma wants to contribute and, possibly, the only way she can do that is by buying toys. Is it possible to let her help in other ways? As others have said, buying so many toys is pointless and a waste of effort.

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