Back when my 8-year-old was in preschool, she came home from school one day and asked me where our beach house was. Bewildered by her out-of-the-blue question, I probed a bit to find out what prompted her inquiry. (It turned out that a few of classmates were going away from the upcoming spring break, and one girl announced that she’d be heading to her family’s waterfront compound–I kid you not.) “Right here” was the answer I finally supplied, gesturing to indicate our own humble abode. Did I mention we live just down the road from the Long Island Sound? No need to feel like that such close proximity to the water didn’t qualify as a seaside getaway…But I couldn’t blame my then-preschooler for her inquisitiveness; she’s been visiting that beach with me since before she could even crawl, and the same goes for her younger sister. If you’ve got your own water baby–or even if your passion for the sea outweighs your time spent in the parks or on the playground–we’ve got just the toy to satisfy your little one’s H2o itch. Aurora’s My Beach House is a plush playhouse whose inhabitants aren’t only indigenous to the sea, they’re ready to convert your little landlubber into a baby beach bum. Four soft friends from the sea–a stingray, sea turtle, crab and shark–are just the right size for little hands to grasp, as they find their way back home. This first toy is easy for tots to transport around the house, or even off to a sunny getaway (and not just the make-believe kind). So whether your kid is on vacation for real and just in his mind, he’ll have plenty of fun in the sun–minus the sunburn.
In a Nutshell: Beach-bound babies wanted. Here’s an adorable soft toy for little ones with an affinity for the sea. Aurora’s My Beach House will be in stores this spring and is available now on Aurora’s Web site.
My 3-year-old is a little drill sergeant. She never lets her menagerie of stuffed animals get out of step. If they are not properly arranged on her bookshelf, she stops whatever she’s doing to straighten them out. A mother’s dream–or worst nightmare? Of course, it wasn’t always like this. Ordered chaos was fine by her when she was younger and just learning to play with her toys. When she stacked up her blocks in her earlier days, she’d quickly knock them down again and again, her chubby little hands toppling them over and clapping in sheer delight at her mastery of cause and effect. Fast forward to the present and this preschooler is all about order. People near and dear to me say her obsession is all my doing, but I haven’t the faintest idea of what they’re talking about. What I do know is, were she a baby today, how much she would have loved the Skip Hop Animal Zoo Stack & Stick Animals. No matter how you stack these adorable plush creatures, they stay in place. We love them for their eye-catching design and ultra-soft bodies–ideal for the most “destructive” little builders (you know the ones we mean). Now, please excuse me while I fix my bookshelf. A few titles seem to be out of alphabetical order…
In a Nutshell: Blocks that stay together, no matter how you stack them.
It amazes me that my 3-year-old still loves a good game of peek-a-boo. On a crisp fall afternoon earlier this week, we played outside where she hid her face within the trees. It was only a matter of minutes before a fierce wind blew back their branches to reveal her little face, and she was suddenly in stitches. If your baby hasn’t yet graduated from this simple game, but you’d welcome a diversion in the same old, same old routine, check out Skip+Hop’s new line of Hug & Hide Activity and Stroller Toys. Each plush animal friend (choose from an owl, lamb, dog or monkey) is outfitted in a multi-textured design and features a matching baby animal hidden underneath their arms. It’s a wonderful way to teach opposites like open and closed, and of course, to show your little one how to give a hug. A smaller-sized stroller version guarantees company on those walks around the neighborhood when you’re bound to embark on another peek-a-boo adventure.
In a Nutshell: Whooo wants to play peek-a-boo? Here’s a plush pal that’s always up for a game…
You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that babies need their tummy time. With so much of their day spent on the backs–sleeping, batting at toys under a play gym, etc.–during the early months, infants don’t have as much opportunity to develop upper body strength as they should. Hearing the call of eager-to-explore babies everywhere comes the Right Angle Tummy Triangle from Infantino. Designed by pediatric occupational therapists, this play gym is specially angled to promote muscle development in necks and legs, giving little ones a chance to flex their growing limbs. Ever try to get a baby to stay on her belly? It’s not as simple as it sounds. We like that the Tummy Triangle encourages this type of play with music, a toy bar that includes a peek-a-boo mirror and an inviting, crinkly bee beckoning baby to reach out and grab it. It’s designed for newborns and up, so it’s never too soon to set it up in the nursery. When your little one tires of her bouncy seat, let her check out the world from a different perspective–and watch her hold her head up high. The Right Angle Tummy Triangle will be available in late October.
In a Nutshell: Who knew that one day, the Pythagorean Theorem might come in useful? Well, not exactly, but with the Right Angle Tummy Triangle, you’ve got the right solution for those fussy moments.
A lucky mom indeed, I was able to spend a day at Toy Fair in NYC and boy, did I get the scoop on all things fun for 2011. All week long, we’ll be talking about what’s hot for playtime as we look at some of the more entertaining playthings that caught our eye. First off, we’re especially excited that PBS Kids is launching its first-ever line of toys for toddlers and preschoolers. Don’t expect to see The Cat in the Hat or Curious George-themed items, though. Instead, the signature Dot and Dash characters that make up the PBS Kids logo are the main characters appearing among the more than 20 wooden toys. They include the Sounds of World Rhythm Set of musical instruments, Exploration Blocks and, our favorite, 3-Layer Puzzles in various themes like barnyard and camping. These aren’t your everyday preschool puzzles, but rather offer layer after layer of tactile surprises–perfect for the exploratory preschooler in your house. Speaking of surprises, stay tuned for more toy tidbits…
In a Nutshell: The educational TV brand your kids have come to know and love has entered the playroom in a whole new light. PBS Kids’ toys offer imagination stimulation without having to change the channel.