Mum's the word: The price of toddlers' toys

To mark the arrival of ToyNews' fresh pre-school section, Dominic Sacco asks new mums and dads how much they spend on nursery toys for their little ones...
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Everybody knows that Moshi Monsters, Lego and Skylanders are amongst children’s favourite toys today – but what about toddlers?

The market for nursery and toys is still massive, but what do parents buy for their babies? And how do their spending habits change as the child grows older? 

ToyNews research shows that over half of parents spend an average £10 to £20 per month on toys for babies under one, and this spend remains largely the same as their child grows to 36 months. For some, it grows further, and they are willing to pay more for trusted branded products.

Mother and Facebook user Kelly King says: “We would probably spend £10 to £20 when our child was younger than 12 months, but occasionally more than this when they were growing to 36 months, as the toys they want then are TV character branded ones, which are often more pricey.”

Around 20 per cent of Mumsnet members and parents on Facebook told us they spend less than £5 on nursery toys for their baby, which falls to 13 per cent as the child grows to three years old. However, just six per cent spend between £5 and £10 on their baby, but this leaps to 26 per cent after their kid’s first birthday.

Our survey also reveals that parents who spend more than £20 per month are in the minority. One fifth spend this amount for babies under 12 months old, while just 13.3 per cent fork out over £20 for their kids aged between one and three years old.

Big competition

A whopping 60 per cent of parents surveyed said toys make up less than ten per cent of their overall spend on their child. Most parents told us their biggest expense was prams and car seats, including Mumsnet user Flyingwithoutwings, who says she usually spends £5 per month on nursery toys, but did also admit to once spending big on a £250 pre-school playhouse. 

Amaze Marketing’s Jane Slatter says it’s the regular necessities that toys have to compete with for mum and dad’s money.

“Buggies and car seats are probably two of the biggest costs in the early years, but on an ongoing week-to-week basis, it’s nappies, wipes and clothes,” she tells ToyNews.

Of course, it’s not just parents who purchase pre-school products. Just over half of our recipients buy nursery toys for their children themselves (60 per cent), while 40 per cent said their baby’s play items are received as gifts.

Top toys for tots

So what do parents look for in a pre-school or nursery toy?

“Anything that lets kids learn and have fun at the same time,” says Helen Shepherd, who is mum to a one year-old girl. “Musical and educational toys are good, as are ride-on bikes.”

Flyingwithoutwings adds: “I look for imaginative possibilities, role-play toys, quality and multiple features.”

Father George Watson says: “We always look for toys that are educational but can also hold her attention for a while,” he adds. “This way she is learning and we get a little break so we can get the dinner done for example.”

Parents might not spend hundreds of pounds on toys until their children break the four or five-year barrier, but there’s certainly a demand for reasonably priced nursery toys, especially licensed products based on popular kids’ TV shows.

There’s also the opportunity for toy companies to introduce their brands to children at a younger age, like Lego is doing with its Duplo line (see page 65 to find out how).

Check out ToyNews’ new regular pre-school and nursery section on page 63 and see what new products are on offer in our pre-school guide on page 47.

Want to receive up to the minute toy industry news straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up for the free ToyNews Daily Digest and Newsflash services. You can also follow ToyNews on Twitter and Facebook.


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