In medtech, we’re used to seeing news about major acquisitions, company rebrandings, and product releases. We’re less used to news about kids’ toys. But over the last couple of days I’ve encountered multiple articles about American Girl and the company’s inability to keep the diabetes care kit for its dolls (which was released earlier this year) in stock. It’s no surprise that for kids with diabetes, as for all kids, it’s important to have toys that they can relate to, and the demand is obvious in how quickly these kits continue to sell out, as well as in the ever-growing list of similar accessories the company offers for its dolls, including allergy-free lunches, crutches, and hearing aids, among others.
American Girl is certainly one of the biggest brand names to offer toys aimed at kids dealing with medical conditions, but it’s not the only one. In recent years, any number of other toys have come and gone from the market, many of which have been aimed at helping kids to understand and learn to manage conditions such as diabetes. For instance, Jerry the Bear is a teddy bear that is designed not only to comfort kids, but also to help kids with Type 1 diabetes learn the basic skills needed to manage the condition. By monitoring Jerry’s blood sugar, feeding him healthy foods, and measuring his insulin doses, kids can learn how to keep themselves healthy too.
With the ongoing trend toward toys that better reflect the diversity of the kids that play with them (see Barbie’s recent revamp, which introduced both petite and curvy versions of the well-known doll in a number of skin tones), I’m hoping that we’ll continue to see more toys that are aimed at kids dealing with medical conditions, especially those that require constant management, in the hopes of normalizing these conditions and giving kids more avenues for becoming comfortable and knowledgeable about whatever they may be facing.