Boys toys are not always the things we think of. Outdoor toys, wooden toys, and cool toys can also work as girl toys as well, and when you go to the toy shop, you ought to not let yourself get confused by the blue and green branding for boys toys. After all, toys are toys, and boys toys are simply something your child has fun with.
That said, I am spending a lot of time picking up pieces of wood as my son runs around creating toy guns with his little sister, who steadfastly refuses to play with any girl toys.
Girl toys are usually pink, sparkly, and pretty useless. Look, I am not a fan of gendered toys, but I still find myself buying pretty pink sparkly dolls, and trucks and cars for my boy.
Toddler toys are a little easier than girl toys. They're less likely to be gendered, and more likely to be brightly coloured, made of wood, or simply outdoor toys.
When we go to the toy shop though, it's easy to be seduced into thinking there is a reason each kids toy is coloured the way it is, when really, it's about selling more toys, not about giving kids what they want.
Children are actually not that picky. Sometimes, especially when your child is a baby, they'd even prefer to play in the box, rather than playing with the educational toys for toddlers you have so carefully picked out for them.
In Sydney and Melbourne, there are some great toy shops to visit. Australia has excellent safety standards for a toy store, which gives you lots of choices and minimal risk for your kids.
My children have always gravitated to the cool toys like nerf guns, which they think are great fun, especially when they can shoot targets set up on the wall. Other fun toys are made out of wood. Wooden trains are always a really good bet for small children, as are boys toys for girls, and girl toys for boys. Give your son a dolly and watch him father it, give your daughter a digger and get mucky in the sandpit. They're children and it's all in good fun.
Baby toys are simultaneously the easiest to buy, and the hardest to master. Brightly coloured and high contrast toys are best, along with things which crinkle or crackle, toys which rattle or move. Mirrors also make amazing toys for babies, and don't underestimate how much amusement you will get out of watching your baby play with their reflection in a mirror.
Outdoor toys are excellent as well. Keep a selection of balls, cricket bats, footballs and soccer balls around, coupled with a few friends or cousins, your children will keep themselves entertained for hours. You may have to watch your windows though.
Other outdoor toys which are good include cubby houses, wading pools (with supervision only), wading pools filled with balls instead of water (not the best idea if you have a ball mad dog, but good if your dog is lazy).
Taking your child to a toy store to choose toys can sometimes be an exercise in insanity, but stick with it. One day they might even surprise you and pick some cool toys you like too.