I believe we (The Chicks) are a typical family with very young children/babies. We seem to have toys coming out of our ears, yet the vast majority of them don’t even get looked at. When I was a child, toys, clothes and children’s entertainment weren’t as affordable and accessible as they are nowadays (or at least that’s what my parents tell me!). Consequently, modern families seem to collect toy shop quantities of colourful plastic, as well as cupboards and drawers full of mini clobber.
We recently moved home, and all of the toys got packed haphazardly into every plastic box we could get hold of. Five weeks later, and I finally got round to sorting through all of the toys this weekend. This involved locating puzzle-pieces strewn far and wide, organising road vehicles into one box, rail vehicles into another, soft toys in the bedroom, educational toys at reach-level. To top it off, I completed this mammoth task with my children playing in the room with me – a job which could be likened to running up a down escalator.
After much perseverance, I got there, and proudly stood back to survey my work (see picture of beautifully organised dresser brimming with a rainbow of polypropylene).
And after I had meticulously sorted through every toy, I realised that there were numerous items that my youngest had never played with properly, but I could now introduce him to with some level of structure. I remember my eldest lacked method when he used to engage with some of these toys, usually favouring flinging them around the room or eating them.
So here is a little record of the toys that my baby had a chance to play with properly, and which items he enjoyed the most. Actually, you’ll see that his expression is largely unchanged throughout all of the photos, which either means he loved all of them equally, or was as bored with one as the next.
Toy number 1 is this wooden ramp which comes with four little cars. It is a very simple toy with no batteries required.
The idea is you place the car at the top, and it runs down the ramps, zooming off at the bottom. As it is wooden, the little cars make a lovely clattering sound as they zoom down changing direction at the end of each ramp. I think it was the sound that he found the most captivating with this toy, as he doesn’t yet have the best of coordination with placing the cars on the ramp without knocking the whole thing over.
This model was from Sainsbury’s, but I couldn’t find it on their website, so I have included a link to a very similar one from John Lewis, which was priced very similarly.
For my youngest man, he did enjoy the toy, but you would have to operate it for him or he would quickly lose interest.
Toy Number 2 are the trusty stacking cups. Another batteries-not-required beaut which are incredibly versatile and appealing to a variety of ages (well, my 2.5-year old seems to enjoy playing ‘tea-party’ with them as well as baby).
Although he has played with the individual cups, he hadn’t seen them as a stack before. He was absolutely delighted at the prospect of knocking them all down over and over, and also enjoyed playing with the cups individually (I actually spied him repeatedly bashing his leg with two of the cups – looked painful, but he didn’t seem to mind).
Toy Number 3 are the stacking rings. (There seems to be a battery-free theme going on here). I think he enjoyed the separate pieces element to this, and actually did attempt to place the rings back onto the pole. But he wasn’t overly enamoured with this one. Again, it probably required more dexterity than he currently possesses, but the toy is nice and sturdy, colourful, and tactile being made from wood.
This set is from Ikea, who produce a variety of lovely wooden baby and toddler toys that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Toy Number 4 is the Fisher Price Brilliant Basics sorter. (Batteries, anyone?). Another one that may take a while to master, but both of my kids enjoy having those pieces in the bath. The little red box can double as a pretend bag or pretend shopping basket (and frequently is). My eldest went through a phase of using it as a hat and as a step to reach things that he shouldn’t.
I purchased this from the aforementioned Tudor Williams, but you can purchase it in most good toy shops.
Toy number 5 is a large peg puzzle by Melissa and Doug. I originally purchased this (and now own numerous sized ones) when my eldest son’s nursery advised that he loved those puzzles. I introduced baby to this one, and he understood the concept of removing the pieces from the puzzle. However, he pulled the giraffe out a couple of times and then crawled off. He isn’t a fan. But I’m sure he will grow into them! My eldest son adores these puzzles, and is a budding jigsaw enthusiast! I can thoroughly recommend these puzzles as a way of introducing an infant into jigsaw puzzles and as a means of stimulating their brain cells.
You can find more details of this particular puzzle on the USA Melissa and Doug website.
Toy number 6. Anyone remember this creature?! A relic from way back when (I was a kid in the 1980s and I remember them being around, but I have no idea if this vintage toy from Fisher Price was older than this).
And why is it that kids gravitate straight towards the bit that you don’t want them to play with (the bouncy antennae complete with choking-hazard attached to the end of them)? Incidentally, my in-laws (the owners of said toy) reassure me no end that those red balls stuck to the end of the antennae are not a choking hazard, and will under no circumstances be dislodged by any enthusiastic mouth. Needless to say, I store this toy out of reach of baby and briskly whipped the toy away once this photo was taken.
My toddler loves it – an oldie but a goodie. Anyone have one knocking around their lofts?
Toy Number 7 is this lovely wooden xylophone purchased by my mother for my eldest when he became old enough to start bashing things.
What I love about this toy: it is a musical instrument, and I encourage the exploration of musical experimentation of any sort, being a lover of music myself. The kids have access to various real-life musical instruments as well as toy instruments. We sing, we clap, we dance, we listen to a variety of music and we love it.
Unfortunately, this toy is horribly out of tune. Two of the notes are almost the same note, but not quite. Consequently, it sounds like you’re getting two of the same note when they could have made it more in tune. I guess that would have inflated the price horribly, and although my eldest seems to have a natural tunefulness, he doesn’t seem bothered about the out of tune xylophone. My youngest also seems to adore this toy, and has taken to it like a duck to water, using the mallets correctly.
This little xylophone was originally purchased in Marks & Spencer, but it appears to now be unavailable. If you want more details on it you can find them here, but I’m sure you’d be able to purchase something similar to this from other good toy shops, or eBay.
So there you have it, some new discoveries for my baby on the toy-front. The toys have all remained beautifully neat over the weekend and the kids are enjoying the new order. I’m sure we’ll have it all back to chaos and mess again this time next week.
I’d love to hear what some of your children’s favourite toys are.
Till next time.