I have learned, over time, that there is such a thing as a bad toy.
Bad toys are flashes in the pan: they interest your child for the few minutes after receipt, or maybe for a sparse couple of minutes one or two Saturdays thereafter, but then clutter your apartment forever. Because God forbid you nab it in the stealth of the night in a fit of Marie Kondo cleanliness in order to donate elsewhere. Your child will intuitively sense its absence and ask after it for months to come. (Does this happen to anyone else? You literally never played with that octopus toy, Emory.)
Below, I am sharing good toys. Slow-burn toys. The toys my children play with constantly, nearly daily, even well after I presumed my elder three-year-old would have outgrown them. One common thread? All of them promote imaginative play and most can be repurposed for myriad contexts. (E.g.: The bilibos are used as bowls in a play restaurant, sleds for dolls, beds for mice, hats for everyone, rocks to leap over, etc. And that ball pit! The balls are used in our house for a play “chocolate shop” that mini routinely sets up in micro’s crib. They are also used to pelt parents, to swim in, to play various sports with, as oranges/fruit in a fruit stand, etc.)
I leave you with a roundup of my favorite toys–because they are my children’s favorite toys and have sustained many a long and languid afternoon.
BATTAT PLAY FOOD (REALLY ANY PLAY FOOD WILL DO; THIS IS THE BRAND WE HAVE)
FISHER PRICE ROCK A STACK (MINI USES THESE AS DOUGHNUTS IN SO MANY SCENARIOS)
PICASSO TILES (OR MAGNATILES)
FISHER PRICE LITTLE PEOPLE PLAYHOUSE
I will also — hesitantly — add two light-up toys that have had shockingly long duration in our household, though you’ll note NONE of the above are battery-operated! (#Mindblown). Hill has absolutely loved this singing truck set since about seven months old. He plays with it every single day, multiple times a day. He loves placing the balls (or Little People, or play keys, or whatever) in the back, loves pulling the little string along, moving the lever. It’s for whatever reason a genius toy. The other is this v-tech phone, which I suppose should depressingly show us how much we prize our own phones. But both children absolutely love this toy! We have two, and they are in constant use. Mini loves to tuck hers into her “purse” and to pretend to call aunts, grandparents, parents, etc.
I shared some of my favorite organization gear for all rooms of the house — including toys in nurseries! — here, but these are really fantastic for things like blocks, play food, magnatiles, etc. I find that because they are easy to access, mini plays with them a lot more. I have been eyeing these forever for mini’s room — I think we might be at a stage where these would come in handy for keeping her Maileg mice and dress up clothes in particular separate bins.
Finally, I am still updating my roundup of indoor children’s activities! I am always on the lookout for new additions. A couple of you have written to ask questions about the dyed rice activity (#38), which was a big hit in our home, and I shared a few pictures of it on Instagram, too. I got a couple of the same questions in response to my Instastories, so thought I’d share some notes here:
+We have been using these trays whenever we do any activity, including the dyed rice, although these deeper ones would frankly be even better when you’re dealing with the rice (or waterbeads — yikes! those guys get everywhere!) to keep the mess contained. Still, the trays definitely work (though sweeping is necessary after).
+I buried this alphabet from a puzzle in the rice one day, and mini absolutely LOVED this activity. This set would be great, too (the numbers!), and they’re just excellent puzzles to have on hand in general.
+I have been using those little plastic egg dying cups that came with my Paas Easter egg dying set from Easter for all of mini’s projects/activities! They are cheap and I don’t care if they get stained with dye or whatever. However, they are pretty flimsy and I don’t expect they’ll last much longer. Just added these to my cart as a replacement and will continue to use them (and the trays) JUST for activities.
P.S. Children’s bedtime books I love and mini’s favorite books at around a year of age. Also, if you have a brand new baby and are looking for a fool-proof book for your child to fall in love with: Peek a Who. I have yet to meet a baby who does not love this book. Both of mine laughed out loud at it from a young age.
P.P.P.S. Unrelated, but — some musings on reading and real life.