Victoria Macgregor, American

Mother of a 19-month old boy, Thomas, based in Riyadh

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19-month-old Thomas loves to play with dinosaurs and fake food. Image Credit: Supplied

My childhood: “I played with a wide variety of toys, but I have the most memories of Light Brite, an assortment of dolls (particularly Barbie), Legos and K’Nex. I remember having plenty of say in what I got to play with. I remember wanting toys my parents didn’t buy me but it was never for gender reasons.”

The gender bias: “I was born in the early 80s and there was definitely a girls section (usually all pink!) and a boys section. I don’t recall wishing for gender-neutral toys, and certainly had no interest in many of the ‘boys toys’. Looking back, and shopping now for toys for my son or for friends’ kids, I think having gender-neutral sections of toy stores or marketing would make it easier to interest kids (and some parents) in new toys.”

Choosing toys for my child: “When we had our son, I was determined not to just do the ‘boys’ things, but I do find myself falling into more stereotypical purchases. We have lots of Duplo, dinosaurs, trucks and footballs in our living room at the moment! He also plays a lot with stuffed animals, including a huge bear that is twice his size and he uses as a landing pad for jumping off his slide or to lay down on and ‘read’ a story.”

Dolls for girls and cars for boy: “No, because when you go to a playgroup or an open space with lots of toys to choose from I do notice boys, including my son, playing with the baby dolls and girls playing with cars or dinosaurs. I think the bias gets built in or reinforced by what they have at home. Our next big toy purchase is likely to be a scooter and some kind of kitchen as he really seems to like playing with the fake food and the mini-stoves.”

The creative element in toys: “Sometimes when my son plays with a truck, he uses it like a truck…[other times]. he sits it on the couch and shares his lunch! I think letting him direct the course of play is the best way to let him grow and discover the world around him.”

Sherin Bodekji, Spanish

Senior account manager and mother of a 19-month-old girl, Selena, based in Dubai

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Image Credit: Supplied

My childhood memories: “We used to live close to the beach and I was blessed to use elements from the nature as my toys. Playing with water, rocks and the swing on the tree. When I was older, my mom bought me Barbie toys, Grass head and Mr Potato Head. My mother did her best to buy us whatever we wanted and ... we didn’t have a lot of options where we lived, so I was happy with whatever toy I got.”

The gender bias: “I know there is a gender association with toys. Guns are associated more with boys but I would not buy guns for my baby. I would allow my kids to play with whatever toy they want as long as it has a meaning and will not be associate with violence.”

Co-playing is important where we show them how to use the toy in the right way, especially at a young age. A toy should not be bought to distract the kid.

- Sherin Bodekji, Mother of a 19-month-old girl

Choosing toys for my children: “It should be an educational toy that will help her develop a specific skill. I respect a brand that will offer unbiased options, not a pink or blue colour but a general colour.”

Dolls for girls and cars for boys: ‘Most mothers do [this] but I notice on social media there is more acceptance of kids playing with whatever they want. I have mothers buy cleaning tools for boys; I bought one for my daughter but she was not interested at all.”

Creative element in toys: “It’s our responsibility to choose the right type of toys and [also] let them play with what they want. Co- playing is important where we show them how to use the toy in the right way, especially at a young age. A toy should not be bought to distract the kid.”