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The Power of Play: Why We Are Partnering with Pediatricians to Start a Revolution

2020-02-21 by Melissa
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67,000 pediatricians.
Millions of families.
A revolution in play!

A revolution? Yes! We’re fighting for a fundamental change in the way people think about play and childhood! That’s why I’m truly thrilled to share the exciting news that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is partnering with Melissa & Doug to unleash the Power of Play. This groundbreaking alliance is built on the knowledge hands-on play is essential for children’s healthy growth and development, with the goal of helping parents and caregivers nurture critical life skills through engaging in open-ended play, managing screen time, and connecting with others on a deeper level.

AAP_Power_of_Play_Cover_PhotoFB Desktop Cover Photo

With the guidance and science of the AAP’s 67,000 pediatricians behind us, we aim to share the extraordinary health benefits of open-ended play and compel parents, teachers, and caregivers to make it an essential, enriching part of children’s daily lives.

Join us in discovering the Power of Play >

A Changing Childhood: Finding Time for Free Play, Managing Screen Use, and Creating Connections

In today’s fast-paced world, so many of us are grappling with how to navigate our family’s relationship to digital devices, manage media consumption, and find time to forge meaningful connections with one another. There’s a prevailing sense childhood has changed over the last decade — with less time and space for kids to be kids. Couple that with research showing how tech may be rewiring our brains and reports about rising rates of anxiety and depression in young people, and it’s easy to see why parents are looking for answers. With the Power of Play alliance, we have an incredible opportunity to help people radically rethink the way we approach childhood and play.

In recent years, the AAP has published a series of policy statements highlighting the powerful role of play in children’s cognitive and social development, including recommendations pediatricians write a “prescription for play,” and guide parents in setting limits around their children’s use of digital media. In a 2019 policy statement on choosing toys for young children, the AAP recommends caregivers choose more traditional toys to facilitate children’s cognitive brain development and foster language-building caregiver interactions.

For us at Melissa & Doug, this latest report, in particular, was validation for more than three decades of championing open-ended, hands-on play as an essential part of childhood. We ignored those who contended we must introduce digital toys and apps to survive, holding firm to our belief wholesome toys nourishing imagination and emotional and social interactions were best for a child’s development.

The 3 Principles of Healthy Play

The goal of the Power of Play alliance is to educate parents, caregivers, and professionals on the importance of these three principles to enhance children’s health and well-being:

  • Prioritize hands-on play


    Play is essential when it comes to children’s health and development. Look for toys inspiring imaginative, open-ended thinking, and can be used in different ways to grow with children.
    Read the research >
    Find toy-buying tips >

  • Enjoy screen-free time


    Limit screen time to no more than 1 hour per day of high-quality programming for children ages 2-5; For children younger than 2, media use should be very limited and best when an adult is standing by to co-view, talk, and teach.
    Read the research >
    Create a Family Media Use Plan >

  • Interact & connect through play


    Children learn best from parents and other caregivers. Use play as an opportunity to talk, read, and sing with children, all of which will build their vocabularies, reduce stress, create connection, and develop foundational skills for learning.
    Read the research >
    Check out age-specific play ideas >

We believe it’s our duty to give caregivers confidence to choose free play and appropriate tools to spark enriching play experiences. Whether kids are playing with Melissa & Doug toys or others, we feel obligated to make those interactions as wonder-filled as possible. We hope you enjoy discovering the Power of Play!

Learn more about how you can unleash the Power of Play in your life at MelissaAndDoug.com/PowerOfPlay



As a co-founder and chief creative officer of a toy company committed to championing open-ended, healthy play and as a mother of six who had two children in her 20s, two in her 30s, and two in her 40s, Melissa has had a front-row seat to the dramatic changes in the way kids play and experience childhood. She is dedicated to speaking out about the crisis our children face due to the rise of technology and other societal factors and providing solutions to help families find time for child-led play and exploration.

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