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Q & A: How do I organize a space that is both preschool and toddler-friendly?

by respaced on October 26, 2010

Question: I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I am concerned about the 1-year-old getting into the toys of the 3-year-old and possibly swallowing a small toy or part of a toy. But at the same time, I want the 3-year-old to be able to play with his toys. How do I organize their playroom so the 3-year-old can play, but the 1-year-old stays safe?

Answer: You could try putting all of the older child’s toys with small parts into bins of a certain color, designating one bin per playset. For example, get six red bins and put the Legoes in one bin, the miniature animals in another bin, the Playmobile in a third bin, etc. Then make a rule that the “red bin” toys can only be played with on the floor while little brother is napping or at the dining room table while he is awake. I think it’s important that the 3-year-old play where you can monitor him so you can keep an eye on any toys or pieces that fall to the floor. And be sure to help him pick up all the pieces and put them away when playtime is done. This way, big brother gets to play with his toys while minimizing the danger to little brother.

Thanks to the mama at Beaverton MOPS who asked me this question!

Do you have an organizing question for me about kids’ rooms, living rooms, kitchens, garages, attics, closets, collectibles and memorabilia, to-do lists, time management or more? Leave your question in the comments section or email me at Thanks!

Image of multiple choking-hazard toys courtesy of kalyan02 at

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