Infant & Toddler Toy Shelves

It’s time to reorganize the girls’ toy shelves to accommodate their latest interests and Moon’s new ability to access the shelf on her own. The girls share a room, and thus the toy shelves and play space.

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Here was our toy shelf before our commando-crawling Moon could reach it on her own.




Here is our toy shelf now. In addition to rotating some toys out and others in, the toys are arranged so that the smallest items sit atop the highest shelves, safely out of Moon’s reach . . . most of the time.



Infant Toys Shelves
In setting up toys that both girls would have access to, I kept a few things in mind.

Nesting Cups & Papers


1.  Less is more


Infants only need a couple of one type of toy since they are typically exploring at this age. Rather than set up the entire set of eight nesting cups, which Greysen would use to stack, I only set out three, which allows Moon to do all the things she can do with cups, including taste, bang, drop, and push them.


Fewer toys allow for more focus, and increase the probability that they will explore that toy longer (or at least return to it).


2. Containers that organize


Baskets, bins, and bowls keep toys together, helping the shelf look organized and attractive. I am especially fond of the ball basket since it allows for the toys to be seen easily. I found the basket and the leaf-shaped wooden bowl that holds some shells at a second-hand store in town.


Balls & Seashells

3. Playthings that are reflective of her interests, experiences, competencies


Moon has been interested in shaking things, and her collection of paper continues to fascinate her.


Due to an interest of Greysen’s, we have been going to the beach every two weeks or so, and so a small assortment of sea shells are available to both girls.  Moon has been throwing the balls and moving after them. I used to have six out in a different area for Greysen, but since Moon has been the one using them the most, I moved them down low, making it easy for her to reach.


Toddler Cubes:


1. Less is still more . . .

Greysen is now engaging in imaginary play and using her life experiences as starting points for play. In light of recent interests, she now has several fish and sea creatures to tell a story with, and enough blocks to make a tunnel.


2. Reflective of her interests, experiences, competencies


They are many ways to organize a toy shelf but, the kids’ interests take precedent. I also try to make sure that there are a variety of playthings and books that support all the five areas of development (cognitive, motor, language, emotional, and social) throughout our home.


Greysen has been interested in all things ocean-related. A recent trip to the aquarium bolstered this passion, along with an ignited interest in previously unfamiliar sea creatures, namely sea horses and octopi.


3. Non Gender-Specific Toys


For the same reasons we prefer open-ended toys, we look for playthings that can be used in a variety of ways and not limit play in any way. Toys that espouse gender stereotypes like this one that I saw at our local chain store potentially promote gender role stereotypes, particularly in the conversations adults have with children around play with such toys.


4. Wood Toys


I almost always prefer wood toys to plastic, and I would replace her plastic cars with wooden ones in a heartbeat, but the investment is not an option for us right now. So for now, Greysen has access to cars that belonged to Mike – it’s best to reuse anyhow.

So that’s our reorganized shelf! I’m sure we will need to rethink it once Moon starts to try to stand but it’s working for now. How do you organize toys for children of multiple ages?


  1. Meryl says:

    Great post–we’re working on getting some shelves for our kiddo’s room. I’m always thinking about “less is more” but I hadn’t thought about, for example, cutting the number of stacking cups. Thanks for the good ideas!

  2. Laura Jensen says:

    I happen to stumble on to your sire while searching for “toy shelfs” it brought up the picture of your awesome shelf above like it read my mind.
    I read on about your cute little family and I am so happy I did!
    I was a preschool teacher for 10 yrs and studied child development for 8 yrs-but that was easy compared to becoming a parent.
    Instant fan and I look forward to all the helpful advice from your post.
    Now back to my search for a toy shelf. =)

    • Marisa says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read. I agree parenting brings a whole lotta new challenges that I didn’t encounter in the classroom. Would love to see your shelf when its finished. – Marisa

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