The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announces new alliance partnering with Melissa & Doug to improve the health and well-being of all children
The AAP, an organization of 67,000 pediatricians, is joining forces with Melissa & Doug, the trusted toy company, to champion the health benefits of open-ended play, and provide tools and resources for parents to make it an essential part of children’s everyday lives
(ITASCA, IL – February 19, 2020) – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has chosen Melissa & Doug, the toy company known for its 30-year commitment to open-ended play, to work together in a nationwide, multi-year undertaking. The alliance, called the “Power of Play,” will support parents and caregivers in helping children build important life skills through play, manage screen time, and connect with others on a deeper level.
The alliance is built on the findings that play is essential for healthy growth and development. And as with food, play has healthy and less healthy options, which contribute to children’s well-being. Just as parents strive to make nutritious food choices for children, they should choose the types of play that research has demonstrated to encourage hands-on engagement, foster social interactions, and nurture imagination.
In recent years, the AAP has published a series of policy statements that highlight the powerful role of play in children’s cognitive and social development, including recommendations that 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.
The goal of the Power of Play alliance is to educate parents, caregivers, and professionals on the importance of these three principles to improve 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 that inspire 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. It’s 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 >
Since its founding 90 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been a champion for children, including promoting ways to nurture the strong parent-child relationships that are critical for early brain development.
“As a pediatrician, I know how essential creative, open-ended play is for young children’s brain development, language acquisition, problem-solving skills, social interactions and physical activity,” said AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP. “When children and parents play together, that’s when we see those magical moments that are so important for children’s growth. We are so pleased to be embarking on this new alliance with Melissa & Doug. Together we can help millions of families understand what they can do in terms of play to foster the best health outcomes for their kids.”
For Melissa & Doug, the alliance offers an opportunity to share the science behind the benefits of play. Melissa & Doug is the only major toy brand to have never added apps or screens to its products. The company also has never advertised its products to children.
“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,” says Melissa Bernstein, co-founder with husband, Doug Bernstein, of their namesake company, and a mother of six.
“There’s a sense that childhood has changed over the last decade — with less time and space for kids to just 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. We have the opportunity to help people radically rethink the way we approach childhood and play. I’m incredibly excited to be partnering with the AAP to help parents, teachers, and caregivers embrace the power of play.“
The Power of Play will offer practical ideas to parents, caregivers, and professionals who work with children. Some highlights:
Proven play advice, resources, and messaging for parents on how to inject play into children’s lives — online in social media and videos, in toy stores — based on science, and translated into action-oriented tips easy to put into practice
Developmental guides of play-based solutions to common childhood concerns (managing big feelings, making friends, paying attention, etc.)
“Play to the Rescue” ideas for avoiding the tempting tech trap of handing over a phone or tablet to a child at restaurants, in cars, on bad-weather days, and during everyday errands and routines
Through this alliance, Melissa & Doug and the AAP are working together to educate parents and caregivers to recognize the scientific importance of play not focused on performance or outcomes; to embrace boredom as a catalyst for creative thinking; to adopt the idea of playfulness as a mindset useful for better understanding a child; and to learn how play can help children work through difficult emotional moments, become better problem solvers and more resilient, all while lowering parents’ stress levels.
About the AAP
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.
About Melissa & Doug
From classic wooden toys to crafts, pretend play, and games, Melissa & Doug products provide a launch pad to ignite imagination and a sense of wonder in all children so they can discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose. According to NBC News, “The [Melissa & Doug] brand of low-tech, mostly wood toys has become the gold standard in early childhood play.”
PRESS CONTACT: Karen Myers