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Children Learn Better When They Have Fewer Toys, Study Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New research shows children learn better when they don't have as many toys to play with.

So if your house looks like part of a toy store, you might be doing your toddler more harm than good.

Well-intentioned parents say they know not to overwhelm their kids with distractions, but that's easier said than done.

"There are so many great new things around, and you just want to expose them to everything," one woman told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

"I try and buy less. Unfortunately, I've already -- they're used to getting a lot," said another.

"I think there are just a lot of choices, so I find that the hardest part," another said.

In a recent University of Toledo study, toddlers were observed playing – some with 16 toys, others with only four. The children with fewer toys had longer periods of play, more focus, more creativity, and more imagination.

Their conclusion? Fewer toys at once promotes skill development and healthier play.

"I wanted to expose them to as much things as possible, so I would get them everything under the sun," parenting blogger Cynthia Litman admitted.

She realized too much can be distracting, instead of enriching. She suggests order.

"I always try to create an art center, a science center, Play Doh center, and I think that really helps them keep things logically ordered," Litman said.

"They aren't going to invest the time and energy in it if they are thinking of the new thing that is just around the corner. So they won't even learn from the educational toy if there is always something else coming," said Dr. Susan Bartell.

So if you're looking for a reason to pare down your gift list, this is it.

Or you do have another option. Researchers recommend parents rotate out the abundance of toys in storage bins or closets, so when they bring them back out, they are a healthy novelty.

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