A recent FanFinders’ survey of over 4,000 mums in the Your Baby Club network has revealed more about the impact of the pandemic on attitudes towards early child development, the role of play and educational toys.
Ever-changing lockdown restrictions have been taking a toll, with 2/3 of mums with babies or young children stating their attitude towards having play dates has changed over the past few months. 30% also said they are ‘really nervous about interaction’ between their child and others. To counter this ‘lack of social interaction’, mums are turning to toys.
Despite a quarter saying they are now more concerned about the hygiene of physical objects, almost 30% of mums will be buying more sensory or development toys over the coming months. Additionally, when asked about the primary features they look for in a toy for their child, both expectant mums and those with young children agreed that ‘educational and developmental potential’ tops the list. Other priorities were the ability to ‘encourage creativity’ and ‘interactivity’, which ranked well above more practical features like durability, longevity and ease of cleaning.
A developing picture
Another trend emerging from the survey is modern mums’ interest in tracking development. 88% of mums agreed that ‘child development begins at birth’ and the vast majority (86%) stated they were interested in tracking developmental milestones.
However, one drawback of this early focus on managing their child’s learning pathway is meeting expectations – a third of mums said they feel pressure to ensure their child develops at a certain pace.
So, what is healthy development? According to mums, early development for their child is more about achieving balance and happiness, than realising IQ potential. When asked which traits they felt it was most important for their child to develop, mums rated being happy, kind and respectful, over ambition, intelligence, success and leadership.
Playing under pressure
One standout figure is that 76% of mums consider playing ‘vital’ for their child’s development. As for which activities they think make the biggest difference to healthy development, ‘sitting on the floor to play’ rated in the top three activities expectant mums consider important, alongside ‘talking regularly’ and ‘reading to their child’.
Playing on the floor also featured highly in the most common daily activities for mums with babies, next to talking and singing or dancing together.
In light of this, it’s interesting to note that over a quarter of mums said they are worried about how much time they get to spend playing with their little ones. This is despite 70% of expectant mums hoping to be able to spend over three hours playing each day and 2/3 of those with young children managing this daily.
‘Child-led play’, meanwhile, continues to grow in popularity. 88% of mums said they actively encourage their child to play and learn independently, which bodes well for toys that promote this.
Responding to the survey results, FanFinders’ CEO and Co-Founder Alec Dobbie said, “In what is a very challenging and stressful time for many families in the UK, we have been working with our partners in the toy industry and beyond on digital campaigns to help them understand these trends better and support our members by delivering great offers and valuable, useful content.”