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Should toys get a gender-neutral makeover?

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"My kids are growing up with a critical framework of everything," Dolan says of Lilli and Lucas. Since toys usually targeted to girls tend to be more gendered, she was particularly focused on creating a gender-neutral environment for Lilli.

As a baby, Lilli’s nursery was green, red and gray. Sometimes, she would buy Lilli the blue version of a shirt or blanket, just to switch it up. And most of her toys were Lucas’ hand-me-downs.

At a glance

Gender-bender toys

Easy-Bake Oven for boys » After a 13-year-old New Jersey girl presented Hasbro with 40,000 signatures from parents and celebrity chefs urging the toy company to come out with an Easy-Bake Oven for boys, Hasbro responded with prototypes in blue, black and silver. They should debut by summer and will include boys in the commercials and packaging. www.hasbro.com.

GoldieBlox for girls » Designed to stimulate an interest in engineering among girls 6 and older, GoldieBlox is a storybook and construction kit that teaches girls to solve problems and help people by building machines. Oakland-based founder Debbie Sterling hopes to develop Goldie into a brand. The debut includes a storybook, figurines and supplies to build a belt drive. www.goldieblox.com.

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Then, when she was about 3 1/2, despite her mother’s efforts, Lilli discovered Disney.

The last year and a half has been a battle," Dolan says. "All she wants are sparkles, Barbie and princesses. When I try to get her interested in puzzles and her brother’s solar system toys, she says, ‘Mom, this is who I am!’ "

Her response is honest. "Just know you can be anything you want," she tells Lilli. "I love you."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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