Dr. Amanda Gummer, a child psychologist with over 20 years’ experience working with children and families. Committed to making the world more playful and widely considered a go-to expert on play, toys, and child development, she is the founder of The Good Play Guide. The independent review site offers expert advice and reviews on a wide range of children’s toys, apps and other products to support parents in giving their children a healthy balanced play diet. For retailers, understanding your customers’ needs is key to selling great toys, and in this exclusive guide, Amanda shares her top tips for toy trends for babies and children this Christmas.
Preschool toys in 2023 are embracing the concept of intergenerational play, bringing together not just children, but also their grandparents and elderly family members. Companies are designing toys that encourage interaction across generations, providing an opportunity for shared experiences that promote bonding and the exchange of wisdom. Building kits, collaborative puzzles, and storytelling games are being crafted to appeal to both young and old alike, fostering communication, empathy, and understanding between different age groups. Look out for a new kids on the block – Cube Fun – a great range of soft cubes for children to develop their movement skills and increase their vocabulary.
Technology is increasingly becoming a part of children’s lives, and preschool toys are leveraging this trend to create captivating and educational play experiences. Language learning apps, maths games, and science exploration kits are harnessing the potential of technology to make learning more engaging and interactive. Products such as the Toniebox are great for smoothing bedtime routines and fostering a love of learning and brands such Let’s Go See match story books with interactive apps. Whilst the newly launched Rock Stepper embraces early learning with an ‘always out’ stylish play mat with an app and flashcards.
Preschool toys are evolving beyond just playthings; they are becoming vehicles for teaching essential values. Through storytelling and creative play, these toys are instilling concepts of social responsibility, diversity, and inclusion. Dolls representing various ethnicities, board games that tackle real-world issues, and playsets that simulate environmental conservation efforts are encouraging children to think critically about the world around them and their role in making a positive impact. Dolls such as Little Rebels give young girls positive role models to engage imaginatively with.
In an era where environmental concerns are at the forefront, preschool toys are reflecting the growing demand for sustainability. Companies are crafting toys using eco-friendly materials, reducing packaging waste, and incorporating themes of recycling and renewable energy. Playsets that depict eco-friendly homes, gardening kits, and wildlife conservation-themed toys are imparting a sense of responsibility towards the planet, fostering a generation that values and understands the importance of sustainability. Everyday activities such as mealtimes are also being enhanced with sustainable products like the ones from Eco Rascals.
Diversity and inclusion are no longer buzzwords but integral elements of preschool toys. Companies are designing toys that cater to children of varying abilities, ensuring that everyone can participate in playtime joyfully. Open-ended toys, sensory play kits, and communication-enhancing toys are being developed to provide an inclusive experience for children with diverse needs. Multi-sensory toys such as sensory balls from ELC , this Feely farm puzzle from Galt and Halilit’s Sounds of the Forrest will make great presents this Christmas.
Amanda is a research psychologist, passionate about children’s play.
She is the CEO of the research consultancy Fundamentally Children (www.fundamentallychildren.com) and Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide (www.goodplayguide.com) – a consumer-facing review site for children’s toys, apps, learning and baby products. She is the independent chair of the Association of Play Industries, is an NED for Families in Focus CIC, and is on the advisory board of a small number of mission-led startups.
Amanda has a PhD in neuropsychology, the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education and over 20 years experience working with children and families. Widely considered as the UK’s go to expert on play, parenting and child development, her book ‘Play’ was published in May 2105 and has been translated into different languages with extracts being published in the USA’s Toy Industry Association’s Genius of Play initiative for which she is an expert ambassador.
Amanda has an increasing international profile and was commissioned by the Toy Association to create the STEAM toy accreditation framework. She is the UK Chapter chair for Women in Toys – an international networking group within the toy and licensing industries.
Amanda is regularly in the media and continues to take an active role in research, presenting papers at various international conferences. She is often involved in government policy around children’s issues, presenting her Balanced Play Model at the European Parliament in September 2019.