GIRLS and boys are increasingly swapping toys amid a huge rise in gender-neutral products, according to experts.
The last year has seen boys asking for sewing machines and girls asking for cars, yo-yos and footballs.
Manufacturer Wilton Bradley recently revealed its Great British Sewing Bee projects, which feature both boys and girls on the packaging and are in gender neutral colours.
Radio presenter Chris Evans even revealed that his son Eli, five, had asked for a sewing machine for Christmas.
Simon Hampton, head of sales and marketing, said: ‘We’ve had a real rise in gender-neutral toys, with a lot of crossover between genders.
‘We’ve had a lot more girls playing with what have traditionally been boys’ toys, but also boys playing with what used to be stereotypically girls toys.’
He added that the BBC show, The Great British Sewing Bee, which is rumoured to be returning this year, sparked an interest in sewing machines in particular, with ‘a lot of parents buying them for their sons’.
‘We marketed it to girls and boys and were actually specifically asked to do so by the people who make the programme,’ he added.
‘It’s changed quite quickly and quite considerably.
‘There will always be typically girly toys, but there are increasingly girls moving across to things like football, which is the fastest growing girls’ sport.
‘Girls are also getting into yo-yos, which were traditionally more for boys.
‘We don’t gender target at all, we just make the toys for whoever will play with them.’
A parent-led campaign for gender neutral toys, called Let Toys Be Toys, is pushing for other manufacturers to end traditional stereotypes.
In a 2016 study of catalogues, they found only a handful of boys shown with dolls, and girls accounted for just 11 per cent of the children shown with cars or other vehicles.
Despite catalogues increasingly steering clear of using ‘girls’ toys’ and ‘boys’ toys’ labels, the study said there were ‘still visual cues and groupings which were driven more by gender associations than logic’.