Girls played significantly longer with dolls, the study said
Boys naturally gravitate towards cars and girls towards dolls from the moment they first crawl, a study suggests.
City University researchers put a range of toys a metre from 90 children - aged nine to 36 months - and recorded what was played with and for how long.
They found boys spent more time playing with cars and balls, while girls spent more time playing with the dolls.
Researchers said the study suggested there was an "intrinsic bias" in children towards gender-typical toys.
They presented their findings at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Stratford Upon Avon on Friday.
One of the researchers, Sara Amalie O'Toole Thommessen, said: "It was very obvious that even the youngest children went straight for gender-typed toys and colours.
"Boys went straight for the ball and the black car, and girls went to the teddy bear and the doll."
The team said its study was the first to have found such consistent and stable differences in toy choices between genders in children younger than 18 months.
A fellow researcher, Dr Brenda Todd, said: "We were surprised to find the differences so early."
But she added: "Children of this age are already subject to a great deal of socialisation, but these findings are consistent with the idea of an intrinsic bias in children to show interest in particular kinds of toys."