We definitely aren’t one of those families with a ton of toys lying around (yes I’m knocking on wood right now). In fact, we probably err on the side of not enough toys. Both Brett and I agreed before having kids that we were dead set against buying a bunch of useless toys. Not that every toy is useless. Far from it! We just prefer to spend money on things that are stimulating or encourage development or creativity, and it seems like so many of the toys I see today are far from that.
So here are the two categories of toys that I look for as far as toys go:
I have a theory that if you give a kid a little toy castle, that toy will always be a castle. Once they’re tired of playing princess, you are stuck with a huge piece of plastic that has no value to you or your child anymore. If you help your kid build their own castle out of a cardboard box (or legos, or books, or whatever you have), they get the advantage of creating, learning and imagining ordinary items with different possibilities. And that is my goal with creative toys. Not that they all have to be hand-made. Maybe it’s a set of markers or a set of lincoln logs or anything that fosters creativity. The idea is not to limit them by giving limits on how something is used. Incidentally, I also include stuffed animals under this category, because they can take on so many roles for a kid with a good imagination. My favorite creative toy that I’ve recently found is this one, called a Bilibo, from a fantastic store here in town called Fat Brain Toys:
As the name implies, they specialize in toys that encourage development. This particular one, although a little old for Vera right now, is made to be anything a kid can imagine it to be, from a snow sled to a baby cradle. What a great idea for a toy store. Love it.
On the flip side, there are developmental toys. This would be things like a bouncy seat to help build leg strength and walking confidence. Or those shape blocks that only fit in certain holes to develop problem solving skills Or (my favorite) books, books, books. Things like that. Our most recent new purchase for Vera, a baby walker, falls under this category.
After seeing how much V loved her bouncer at daycare, we agreed that we needed to find something to stimulate her like that at home too. We thought about getting a bouncer, but since she gets to use this one everyday, we decided that a little variety might not hurt either. Plus we like that the walker encourages a different skill set and lets her have that feeling of mobility, so she can get used to the idea.
Then, naturally, we found an awesome used bouncy seat at a consignment sale and bought that too. Probably overkill to have both, but she LOVES it. It is by far her favorite activity.
Sorry for the low video quality from my phone… Obviously though, Vera loves her new toys and we love that she loves them. All this isn’t to say that the little squeak will never get any cool or popular toys just for kicks. We’re not crazy people, we just like to get the most bang for our buck, so to speak. Or maybe we are crazy. Who knows..
Anyone else out there think that a lot of today’s ‘popular’ toys are a little overrated? Are we crazy for expecting more from a toy than just being a toy? Love to hear your thoughts.