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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Toys Worth Buying

I’m so excited about the Works-for-Me Wednesday challenge of coming up with a list of Toys Worth Buying. Though I’ve only been a mom for 15 months, I’ve been a cool Aunt for over 10 years, so I have plenty of experience to speak from in the toy buying department.

For me, part of the fun of buying anything, especially toys, is the research process. (Kacey calls me a walking, talking Consumer Report because I read so many reviews.) Even though my investigative process is extensive and thorough, I often end up donating many toys because I hate to clutter my house with items that M gets bored with quickly. My husband’s toy picks are another matter entirely – he buys one trick pony type toys. Literally! We just had a big "discussion" about a toy pony that he ordered for M. It hasn’t arrived yet, but will undoubtedly be featured in an upcoming post, I’m sure.

Here are some of the items that I love and think are worth buying. Hopefully, it will give you some gift ideas for the holiday season. These toys are appropriate for mostly ages 0 to 2 years old. (Check back for ideas for the older age group next week.)

Early Development Toys (Birth - 2 years old)

1. Sophie La Girafe ($22): Sophie is a great chew toy for babies. She is made in France of perfectly safe plastic and her incredibly cute squeak is a blessing to parents and children alike. Oh la la!

Williams-Sonoma Kids Kitchen Accessories (price varies): M loves the whisk, spatula, and silicone baking molds shown in this link. A few of the cooking utensils, along with the cooking apron, were supposed to be a gift for my God daughter. However, M got to the bag before I could give them to her. Occasionally, M is in the kitchen with me while I am cooking. These items, along with all my melamine bowls, are able to keep him occupied for a full 10 minutes! Instead of buying play kitchen toys, I figure I’d buy the real thing as eventually he’ll be able to help me around the kitchen, right?! Everyone loves to feel useful.

3. Under the Nile Vegetable Crate ($25): I guess it is always a good idea to reinforce good nutrition early on. M loves the texture of these chew toys. They are made of organic cotton and are washable, making them relatively easy to keep clean. It’s much more economical to buy the entire crate of veggies as opposed to each item individually. It is also a great way to teach your kids about vegetables when they no longer need a chew toy. We've been using these toys to do some "let's go grocery shopping" pretend play. Hopefully, M doesn't begin asking me why real carrots don't have faces.

4. Radio Flyer Classic Wagon Walker ($89): M received this as a birthday gift from Kacey and Francesca. It is truly a wonderful and versatile toy. At first, M used it as a walker. More recently, its become a shopping cart for him to pick up stuff around the house. M, Mama needs some more carrot for soup tonight!

5. Bright & Beyond Baby Activity Cards ($10): You can only buy so many toys to keep your kids entertained. I have even tried Gymboree activity books and they are no where near as helpful as these cards. Each individual card recommends an activity to keep both you and your kids engaged.

6. Ikea Tunnel ($18): A collapsible tunnel that we use to build obstacle courses with. M can’t get enough of it when I try to crawl after him in the tunnel. I also stand up with the tunnel around me and play peek-a-boo. Did I mention it is collapsible?

. Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube: The cube is very cool and with one double A battery, this thing seems to last forever. Better yet, it's on sale at Amazon for $20 - a great gift.

8. GeoMag Magnets ($30): These blocks are great for building imagination, as well as frig magnets when M wanders into the kitchen. He loves playing with our magnet cabinet lock and these blocks together. These are great as bath toys too.

9. Robot Playground Ball ($7): Ahhh how this ball takes me back to my dodgeball days. I was the competitive kid out on the playground, getting mad at my cohorts for not bringing their game…Bring it!! (Oh yeah, back to M.) He and I toss the ball back and forth and he plays fetch with it.

Plan Toy Shape and Sort ($20): I love the modern design of this simple shape sorter. M likes it too as he’s finally figured out how to insert the circle into the cube. Hooray!!

I admit that the toy buying process can be more than somewhat daunting. To remedy this situation, Francesca, Kacey, and I work to coordinate buying toys so that we can rotate/swap with each other. Aside from being a practical way to save money and space, it’s also a wonderful introduction to sharing for M.

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Niki Jolene said...

Fiist let me just say that I adore IKEA toys! "Santa" buys some things from there each and every year!

I totally agree about the tunnel...so much fun. And I love how it collapses down so it doesn't take up a bunch of space.


Blessed said...

That tunnel looks awesome!

Great list, thanks for posting it.

Mel said...

I've purused your blog since you left a comment on mine. Maybe the answer to my questions is right in front of me and I might look silly asking but here goes my list:
1. Are there more than one contributors to your blog?
2. What is the meaning of your blog name? Don't get me wrong- I love your title-cute, interesting and sweet but I must be overlooking some information.
Anyway, thanks for checking me out through the "Not Me! Monday" posts! I responded to your comment in my comment box...

The Savvy Mama said...

I love the vegetable crate! Too cute!!

Unknown said...

Great list, and love that you and your friends swap around.

Very cute veggies!

Mel said...

Thanks for your response to my questions Francesca!
It all makes sense now. What a neat idea to blog with friends!!!!
Oh, and what you added to your profile is very informative.
My dad always dreams of living in California. He frames houses and the snow makes for a very rough season of work. He thinks the climate of California is perfect-not too hot and not too cold. I love the snow though (I say this as it hasn't hit with full force and I haven't been cooped up indoors for weeks on end...;O) )
Take care, Fran Fierce!

Sharon said...

I love Ikea toys (no batteries!) We also love Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube. I had never heard of it until a friend with no children bought it for my son. We try to limit the battery toys, but we aren't "no tolerance." This toy is great and the music is actually nice.

*MARY* said...

We have a couple of those tunnel things. When my kids go inside I block the ends with pillows, it really freaks them out and teaches them to never trust tunnels, or their mother.

wendy said...

I so have to get those activity cards & I think Jasper would love that Ikea tunnel.
so glad you are such a good shopper. Makes it so much easier for those of us who haven't been moms so long.