Why Kids Love Stuff So Much

I don’t think you’ll argue with me when I say that kids can bring an unbelievable amount of stuff into our homes. The first child brings clothes and toys and lots of baby contraptions that are creative, but really, couldn’t babies do without heated wipes on their bums? (I’m looking at you, baby wipes warmer!) If you have more than one child, each additional baby racks up a whole new set of things, just adding onto that first layer.

The original stuff that comes in is nothing compared to when those sweet little babies get older. Children have birthday parties and opinions, knowing which toys they would never, ever part with. They cherish the little plastic trinkets they got at a church carnival and the oatmeal tub you threw out last week.  But why do these little kids love stuff so much?

I’ve been thinking about this lately, and a Google search didn’t give me an answer. So, I took what I know about child development and my experiences as a teacher and mom to brainstorm some reasons our kids love stuff so much.


Related: 7 Ways to Win the Battle Against Toy Clutter


Everything is new and exciting to kids! Something they haven’t seen before is especially cool, even if it’s something grown-ups have experienced a thousand times. They want to learn about this stuff, so they search it out, observe it, and collect it.

I remember seeing a video of a baby who was watching someone pull paper into strips, tearing it into several pieces. She laughed so hard at each ripping sound.  That little cutie pie probably would have hoarded piles of paper if she was a little older because it delighted her so much.

Related: What Clutter Steals from Us


Children learn through play. This is true whether they’re playing with a cool new toy, or with the box that it came in. Every object they come across has the potential to become a new toy. We’ve made spaceships out of toilet paper rolls and guitars out of shoe boxes at our house. Even when I see something as trash, Miss H sees it as something awesome to play with.

I put a bunch of stuff on a cake plate to make multi-sensory fun for my little ones. They loved it 🙂


Going hand in hand with interest and play, children can think of creative ways to use things that we don’t think are meaningful. This is especially true of little pieces- Legos, rocks, spare change. We see clutter, but these little pieces help them develop creativity (and also fine motor skills!)

Related: Baby Clothes: What to Toss and What to Keep


Little ones crave the sense of being in control. In a grown up world, they often feel like they have no control over circumstances. But they can have control over things! In a child’s mind, what’s there’s is there’s! Even if they don’t play with something, it’s hard for them to get rid of it because it’s something that they own and control.

You know how in Finding Nemo, the seagulls all swoop in, chirping, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” This is my toddler to a T. He has this radar where he can sense if someone even gets close to something that belongs to him. And then he swoops in to make his claim faster than a comedian watching the president’s Twitter account.

#Kids love #stuff. And it might actually be good for them.


Not all children are sentimental, but this can definitely be a factor for why kids love stuff so much! Growing up is not just hard on Mom and Dad. Growing up can be hard on little ones, too! Miss H sometimes asks to recreate moments “just like the old times.” When she sees pictures of an old toy or blanket, she wants to find it to relive that memory. Unfortunately, the chances of us hanging onto something that isn’t used anymore are slim to none. At first, it was really for Miss H to get rid of anything that ever belonged to her. But as she’s getting a little older and it’s a little easier to reason with her, she’s starting to realize that we can’t keep every item we’ve ever owned.

Related: Toys With the Most Bang For Your Buck

So what are we supposed to do if they’re actually learning and developing because of this stuff?

  • Let them salvage the oatmeal tubs from the recycling bin, but let them know it WILL be recycled in 24 hours.
  • Set space limits. Toys can be put in this storage container, on this shelf, etc.
  • Get a teensy storage container for those annoying plastic trinkets that they seem to love so much.  Keep all the trinkets in there and put it away after your kids have done creating and exploring. Or, you can do what my friend does and re-gifts those little trinkets in a rewards bin.
  • Give toys a new life by making them outdoor toys! If there’s something that your child can’t stand to part with, and you can’t stand to look at it anymore, banish it to the backyard. I’ve seen friends do this with baby activity tables, toy kitchens, and even baby dolls. I’ll tell you, they’ll be used even more creatively outside!

Thinking about these things has helped me become a little less anxious about kid clutter in our home.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are going to allow tons of stuff in our home. But it’s nice to see their toys and collections in the light of things that help them learn and develop rather than peace-stealers that have no purpose but to make mom clean 87% of the time. 


  • Erika Parker February 14, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Great tips. I can’t believe how messy my kids room gets.

  • Beth Bishop September 1, 2018 at 7:46 am

    Love the puzzle in a bag idea! Those boxes can take up so much room


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