When you think about toy stores, you might immediately picture a kiddie wonderland full of endless possibilities. Row upon row of tiny vehicles, superhero action figures, and Barbie dolls. But for parents who have been in the thick of it, this idyllic paradise may seem more like a maze of horror. Toys are a quintessential aspect of childhood; they are often the first things to pop up in our minds whenever we recall our youth. They represent happy memories and fun times. But your folks may have remembered it quite differently. If you're a new parent who enjoys taking their babies or toddlers to toy stores, maybe it's time to take a detour to a bookstore instead. Here are some facts every parent needs to know. Toy Stores Depending on how your kids were raised, a trip to the mall can either be a breeze or a nightmare. Some parents will know which routes to avoid, but others may not be so wise. And when they eventually pass by a toy shop, that's when it usually starts. The yelling, the begging, the weeping. And some parents may concede in the end, bringing home bags of useless, plastic toys. But those parents that do hold their ground, may end up with a grumpy, weepy child for the rest of the shopping trip. And everyone goes home miserable. Don't get me wrong, kids need toys, but one or two is usually plenty. Too many toys may equal only two things: financial loss and clutter. And even if you can afford to keep buying toys, and live in a mansion, do you really think excessive toys will benefit your child in the long run? Experts say that toys need to serve a purpose in your child's mental and physical development. Otherwise, they're just a waste of space and can actually negatively impact your child's concentration, creativity and problem-solving skills. Fewer toys, in fact, can far better enrich your child's playtime than mountains and mountains of plush toys. If you do want to buy toys for your kids, let it be on your terms. And always enforce certain rules when you go toy shopping. No toys over RM10, for instance. If they are torn between two or three toys, sit them down for some decision making and problem solving. Ask them if they really need another action figure, or another stuff animal. Similarly, you can reserve toys for birthdays or special holidays like Christmas. This way you can pick out toys you know can be beneficial for their cognitive development, like puzzles, building blocks and dress-up dolls. Toys that can really boost their problem-solving skills and creativity. Book Stores While unfortunately not a more popular destination for parents to take their kids, book stores (and libraries) are a much better place for children than toy shops. For one, kids are a lot less likely to experience sensory overload when walking through a bookstore than they will a toy store. There aren't any brightly coloured objects and interesting shapes to distract them. Parents also have better control over what kind of material their kids consume. Some bookstores even have little nooks for parents to read to their babies and toddlers. It also goes without saying that books are infinitely better for your kids\u2014even if they don't exactly know how to read yet. But normalising your kids to bookstores instead of toy stores is the first small step to raising them to love books. And to be passionate about reading. Who knows when your kids eventually do grow up and start to love books, they may even begin asking for more trips to the bookstore. And even if you end up buying 3 or 4 in a single trip, books are ultimately easier to store. Books also contribute much less to clutter and environmental pollution than plastic toys. Some parents might think that books are too boring for their kids. This may be because they're not readers themselves. But kids' books aren't like adult books where there are only walls and walls of text. Kids' books are beautifully illustrated, textured and sometimes contain pop-up cut-outs where the pictures come alive in 3D. Books offer as much, if not more sensory stimulation than toys do. And don't forget, they also give your kids an edge in language acquisition. Browsing for books in a bookstore can definitely open their life to a whole new world of fascination and wonder. All you need to do is introduce it to them. Recognising the Better Option So, now that you know the pros and cons of toys stores and book stores, you'll know which is the better option. However, it's no surprise why bookstores win out in the end. Books are an infinitely better options for kids than toys. That is not to say that you should never take your kids out toy-shopping at all. Or that they shouldn't be having fun in general. Shopping for toys and having fun are often mutually exclusive activities. But kids can have as much fun reading books as they will looking around for plushies. That said, instead of taking them to a toy store, buy them one yourself instead. It will have much more sentimental meaning than some random stuffed animal that just happens to catch their eye. Something they will truly treasure for the rest of their lives. You've got this, parents! For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!