Jen Warman: New Freakin' Mummy


4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Buying Toys For Your Kids

My Toy Snobbery Check List

4 Questions To Ask Yourself When Buying Toys For Your Kids

When my son was born, we lived in a small urban townhouse and every square inch of our living space was precious. We had very little baby gear, and only allowed toys that had multiple functions. If it was big, bulky and our son would outgrow it quickly then I didn't want it in our house. I suppose this is officially when I became a Toy Snob. 

Now we live in the 'burbs and have a huge basement area to play in, but guess what? I'm still a toy snob. When purchasing a larger toy for either of my kids I still like to make sure they meet all of the criteria in my toy snob checklist:

1. Will my child love this toy and want to play with it?

If not, I won't waste my time. I like letting my kids play with a variety of toys at local play groups and friends' houses to see which ones they respond to, and I take note of their interests. 

2. Does it have an educational element?

Yes, I'm that parent. To a certain degree. I believe learning should be fun, natural, and based on your child's interests. I like toys that encourage learning through play. We use Cole's garbage truck to pick up his alphabet letters because this is how he likes to learn. But it doesn't hurt to have toys that sing familiar songs to reinforce what he's learning at each stage as well.

3. Will it last him through a variety of developmental stages?

This is a big one. I want a toy that will grow with my child so it doesn't end up collecting dust in a corner two weeks after we bring it home. 

4. Can I find it second-hand somewhere first?

The deal hound in me is always scouring kijiji and local second-hand stores. It also makes me feel a little better about my environmental footprint if I can buy a toy second-hand (I try to lighten the mom guilt wherever I can). 


So now I can tell you honestly that after looking at Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages toys, I was able to tick off all of the boxes on my toy snob list, as they are toys that I genuinely love and pass all of my criteria. 

When Cole was about 9 months old, he started to become obsessed with our vacuum (awesome! A kid who cleans!). But it wasn't safe for him to use, so we got him his own which he used and abused. So for Maeve, we got her the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Vacuum. It has fun songs, teaches about colours and shapes, and the best thing, in my opinion, it encourages kids to help and play creatively, which I love. 

Shortly after Cole's vacuum obsession came his lawn-mower obsession. I think he's mowed the lawn more often than we have! And as soon as Maeve learns to walk, I have a feeling she'll be helping out her big bro using this Smart Stages Lawn Mower. Right now she enjoys the character face that lights up, and she bobs happily to the various songs. Once she discovers the removable play gas-cap and gear shift, I'm sure she'll use it over and over again.

And last but not least, we love our Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair shown in the image above. So far, Maeve can crawl up onto it herself, and press some of the buttons. She loves lifting the seat up and down to activate the various songs. When I'm close-by, I'll prop her up and let her sit in the chair by herself so she can press the shape buttons and flip the pages of the book. It's a toy that will grow with her, offering 3 levels of progressive learning content: you can either slide the switch to control the level of learning that is most appropriate or you can enter in your child's age for automatic content updates, how cool is that?!? It's funny though — we chose this toy for Maeve, but Cole (2.5 years old) loves it too and always asks to have a turn. This makes me happy because I know I've chosen something that will last a long time!

And when we do finally outgrow all of these Smart Stages toys? I'll be dropping them off at a second-hand store so that someone else can enjoy them for as many years as we did! But then what? I guess we'll be into a new phase of life (gulp!) Does Fisher-Price offer Smart Stages Toys for teenagers? I think I could be onto something here...

From infant to toddler, these toys grow with your little ones. Invest in one toy that will be played with for a long time. 

  Check out this toy car that adjusts to your child's developmental stage.

  This is how to use toys to introduce a new sibling.