Artist: Michele Mildenberg

It was just after 5 a.m., the day after my son’s 2nd birthday party when I heard it. My eyes struggled to open while I tried to make sense of what in the world that sound was.“Nee naw, nee naw: 911 to the rescue!” it shrieked over and over. It seemed to be getting louder.

My son received several thoughtful gifts for his birthday, but that electronic toy helicopter was not a friend to sleep-deprived parents. The truth is, although I am grateful for every present my children are given, some gifts make me scratch my head and wonder why? And I’m not alone. I reached out to some other parents to ask them what annoying toys they’ve received, and I’ve gathered them into what I call "Lucy’s Top 5 Most Annoying Types of Toys for Toddlers."

Messy, Messy Toys

Toddlers love to make messes; that is a given. However, gifting a giant set that will not only take up precious space but cause teeny-tiny grains of sand—it doesn’t, in fact, all stick together—to end up in every crack (every. crack.) isn’t exactly something I would wish on another parent.

Amy R. Received a massive “moon sand” set and said, “I thought it was such a kind and thoughtful gift, but on reflection, maybe the gift giver didn’t like me!”

Musical Instruments

We do want grown-up children that play music beautifully, but for us to get there, we must endure the screechy, noisy journey to success. Earplugs at the ready! Christmas joy turned to pain for Lisa D., who had not one but three musical instruments enter her home! She said, “A drum kit. A recorder. A mouth organ. My ears were bleeding by the new year!”

Assembly Required

No, please, no. These types of toys demand your blood, sweat, and tears, but you know that within a few days (if you are lucky), your kids would have forgotten it ever existed! Helen D. told about her encounter with a colossal car track set her son received. She said, “It came in just under 1000 pieces, presented by the in-laws on Christmas Day, and it took four hours and was so painful to click each piece together I ended up wearing gardening gloves.”

Repetitive Stress

We know toddlers love repetition but must the toys do it so cheerfully? Even the most patient parent would soon acquire a nervous twitch after a few days with one of these kinds of toys! Maureen S. confessed that the worst toy her child was given was a psychedelic-colored toy parrot which “repeated everything said to it, over and over again, in a pseudo-parrot voice. After two days of constant squawking, the batteries somehow fell out and got lost.”

Toys that Go Bump in the Night

Nighttime should be serene and not a scene out of a Stephen King novel! Toys that turn on by themselves and start singing have no room in my house! We had a rocking horse that stopped being cute after a few instances when it did just that. It creeped me out, so I sent it on to grandma’s house!

—Lucy Benton

Lucy Benton is a freelance writer from the UK. When not writing, She can be found engaging in Landscape Photography, which pairs well with her love of walking and being in nature. She tweets sporadically at @LucyBwrites. Visit her online at

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