Should you hand toys down to younger siblings?

Having more than one child can be tricky. There can be sibling rivalries and fighting. Many parents are under financial pressure, with each additional child being an additional expense. Parents have a lot of dilemmas to consider, often concerning how to treat each individual child. Parents of more than one child may wonder if it is a good idea to pass toys down from older siblings to younger siblings. This article will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of passing toys down to younger siblings.

Advantages of handing toys down to younger siblings

The environment

Every single day, enormous amounts of rubbish are placed in landfills across the world. Some of this rubbish is burnt, releasing toxic fumes into the environment. In recent years, scientists have become increasingly concerned about the amount of plastic in the ecosystem. Enormous patches of floating rubbish have been found in the world’s oceans. This plastic kills animals. The latest, very worrying, concern is that plastic is actually breaking down and entering water supplies.

As parents, we want to make our children happy but many of us are also very conscious of the effect that our society’s consumerism is having on the planet. We are going to pass this planet onto our children and, hopefully, grandchildren. One way we can help the planet is by reducing the amount we buy, and the amount we throw away. Passing toys and clothes down to younger siblings is one way we can reduce the environmental impact we have on the world.

Children are often very interested in learning about the environment. They are frequently more in tune with the natural environment than adults are. Children also have a strong sense of justice, which we often lose as we become jaded. Teaching children about the impact that waste has on the environment will help them to understand why they can’t always have new toys. Children can be taught about the importance of recycling, and that even the process of recycling has an impact on the environment. Sometimes we have to wonder, are we buying new toys for their sake or for our sake?


As any parent knows, bringing up a child is expensive. The cost of having children has increased dramatically. Having more than one child often costs nearly twice as much as having just one. Some expenses can be reduced by handing down items from the first child to subsequent ones. Toys are definitely one of the types of product which can be handed down.


Money that is saved on buying new toys can be enjoyed by the whole family. Putting some of that money towards a zoo membership, for example, would create lasting memories.

The fact that some toys are heavily gendered can make it harder to pass toys to siblings of the opposite gender. In practice, however, many children will very happily play with toys which have been designated for the opposite gender. Young boys will often love playing with baby dolls and toy kitchens. Girls frequently enjoy playing with toy cars and dinosaurs. Bringing children up with a sibling of the opposite gender, and passing on their toys, can help to reduce gendering.


Children these days have so much stuff that it takes up a large amount of space, often encroaching into adult living spaces. Some children even have their own playrooms, along with their bedrooms. Passing toys down to younger siblings may be a way of maximising space because these toys will often become joint toys which the older sibling still wants to play with from time to time. Fewer new toys being bought may mean more space.

Larger selection of toys for younger siblings

Younger siblings can actually benefit significantly from having their older sibling’s toys passed down. They have a choice of all of their sibling’s toys, once they have outgrown them. On top of that, they will receive their own toys, from their family and also from friends at special occasions. Having a larger selection of toys also helps to determine which toys the younger child actually enjoys playing with. This reduces the frequency of buying toys which never get played with.

Disadvantages of handing toys down to younger siblings

Younger child may feel that the older child is preferred

Children often compare themselves to each other. They compare the treatment that each receives from their parents. Any difference in treatment may be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as preferring one child over the other. Some younger children receive so many hand-me-downs that they are rarely given new toys or clothes. This can lead them to perceive that their parents prefer the older child.

Younger child may not be able to develop own interests as much

While toys are used for play, they serve many educational purposes. It is important to ensure that children have suitable toys for their interests. Some toys can be particularly educational when they encourage a child to learn about one of their unique interests. If a child were only given hand me downs from their older siblings, it is likely that their toys would not perfectly match their interests, and that some educational opportunities could be lost.

sad-child with toy

Younger child won’t be getting the latest toys

Some toys become so popular that for a short moment in time it seems like every child has one. Unfortunately, these tend to be the toys which won’t be used at all a year later, once another toy has come into vogue. Younger siblings could be disadvantaged if parents bought the latest highly popular toy for the older sibling, with the intention of passing it down to the younger sibling.

How to overcome the disadvantages of handing toys down to younger siblings

As mentioned in the previous section, there are some issues surrounding handing toys down to younger siblings. That is not to say, however, that it should not be done. If parents are conscious of the potential downside of passing toys down, they can take steps to mitigate the disadvantages.

Parents may not be aware of how sensitive their children are to perceived slights. It is important for parents who have more than one child to be conscious of the way their children may perceive the way they are treated. If the younger sibling expresses that they are tired of always receiving hand me downs, they could be asked what it is that they would like. Some children would be happy receiving mostly hand me downs if they were able to use some of the money saved for other purposes, such as excursions.

It would be recommended to ensure that the younger sibling is also given new toys at times. Special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas are times when children should be given new toys if finances permit. It might be an idea to buy the younger sibling a smaller toy whenever the older sibling is bought a new toy.

childs birthday gift

Particular interests should be encouraged, particularly where there is educational value. If a younger sibling develops an interest in animals, for example, it would be a good idea to buy a few toys of their choice. Books and excursions with the child’s special interest in mind will help them to feel valued as well as teaching them a great deal.

As for the issue of younger children not having the latest, most popular toy, there are a couple of solutions. If a toy is a must-have item which the children are begging parents for, it is probably worth getting one for each of them. Some toys can be shared between siblings- buying one between them is a more environmentally conscious way of keeping the kids happy.

What to do with toys once they are no longer wanted by the family?

With the number of toys that most children have these days, many parents get rid of them on a regular basis to make space for the new ones. Some toys have resale value. Lego, for example, can be sold in bulk by the kilo. Most toys, however, don’t fetch a great deal second hand. Many can be donated to local charity shops or other services such as women’s shelters, doctors’ surgeries, or childcare centres. Those that aren’t accepted by any of these services should be recycled wherever possible. In some areas, there are even special drop off locations for toys to be recycled. With a bit of effort, not too many toys should have to go into landfill.


While there are certainly disadvantages to passing toys down to younger siblings, it seems that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. As long as parents are aware that younger siblings might prefer to receive new toys every once in a while, and compensate them for having less money spent on new toys, everyone should be happy. Teaching children about the environment, and about children in other countries who can’t afford new toys, should make it easier to convince them that they don’t need brand new toys all the time.