Sunday, June 17, 2007

Advice, please

1. We have the possibility of buying a used Learning Tower. Obviously, the kids aren’t old enough yet, but it’s a good deal and I think we might want one. I know someone out there has one, and I’m hoping for advice - is this a good purchase? Will the kiddos fit up there together? Please advise.

2. While we’re gathering advice, I’m looking for recommendations for our next round of toys. We’re coming up on their birthday, so we’re trying to think ahead about what toys and activities we’d welcome at this point to get us through (or at least into) the toddler phase. Here’s what I’m thinking about so far:



  1. I don't have a learning tower, but have thought about getting one. Decided not to because I'm not sure where we'd put it in our tiny kitchen (which is where I'd most want to use it).

    We have the second activity cube (street, not zoo) and both kids have adored it! Lil' G spends about 20-30 minutes a day playing with it (though not all at once) I keep it in the dining room so that I can sit at the table with Big G while he finishes meals and she's entertained.

    We have a plastic, rugged Radio Flyer with two fold down seats. Great choice!

    We decided to forego the small plastic climbing/sliding thing in favor fixing up the wooden swing set/slide that was here when we moved in. Big G was climbing up and sliding down the full size slide by about 18 months and both kids have enjoyed having an infant swing hanging from the swing set from about 6 months on.

    I'm trying to think of other good 1-2 year old toys. The kids love love love playing with their FP Laugh and Learn home. It's big and plastic and noisy, but great for 2-3 kids to play with together. Big G was all about the big plastic dump trucks at that age. "Handle Haulers" are great for 1-2 year olds and they can put other smaller toys into the back of the truck.

    Ride on toys! The absolute best one we've found (and we've had a few) is the Chico play-n-ride train works pretty well as a push-toy and fantastic as a ride-on. Just the right size. No electronic noises, but lots of nice rattly do-dads. Steerable, sturdy. He loved it so much that we got duplicates for both grandparents' houses. He still rides on it occasionally at almost four! And now Lil' G loves it too.

    Those Leap Frog fridge magnets that sing the ABCs and do phonics. Both kids love them, good for keeping them occupied while I make meals.

    Have fun planning for the big birthday!

  2. I cannot emphasize enough how great it is to have a wagon. Our son loves it and asks for it all the time.

    The activity cubes are great also and I second the recommendations for the fridge magnets, both the ABC ones and the magnetic farm.

    I would probably go with something bigger in terms of the slide/climbing toy. I've noticed toddlers quickly outgrow the smaller ones.

    We got tons of books and puzzles for our son for his first birthday, and, at almost 2 1/2, he still uses those items the most.

  3. Lately I'm obsessed with getting a water table. Friends I know who have them say their kids love them, and I figure it's probably a bit safer than a wading pool.

    I'm trying to think about what the slightly older kids at daycare most like. Push toys are popular. Lots of pretend play like the toy kitchen and dolls and baby strollers and dress up stuff.

  4. I'm getting some great ideas here. We tend to be a little toy deprived on this end - having said that, their favorite toy at 16 months is the Playskool Busy Ball Popper. We got it for their birthday and I almost didn't take it out of the box because it takes a gazillion batteries...but, I did, and they really like it. Turn it on and it keeps them amused for a while.

  5. I had never seen the Learning Tower before, very interesting. It's not for us, though, I don't think. My countertops are one of the last childfree zones in the house, and I hope to keep it that way. Is that mean of me?

    We're getting Little Boy and Little Girl a wagon for their 1st birthday, the fancy plastic Radio Flyer one with the fold down seats & cupholders. I like the above commenter's suggestion of a water table too.

    Hard to believe a year has already almost passed, no?

  6. Oh, I think the Learnign Tower's definitely going to be okay for two. I would have LOVED to get one, but I only ever saw it recommended for two.

    I can't remotely remember the toys from 1st birthday. But yes, anything water/sand related, and our kids got huge amounts of use from the very basic Little Tykes Push-and-Ride vehicles. Just make sure they're the ones with actual axles (the little metal rods that connect both wheels) and NOT the kind that just snap the wheels onto little plastic extensions.

    The Fisher-Price Little People have been pushed down the age scale, so lots of folks get them for their one-year olds now. They have plenty of bells and whistles to engage that age (since the imaginative play we used to use Little People for doesn't start until much later). I went and bought late-90s sets on eBay to get away from all the whistles and lights, but it must be said, the new-version Zoo and accessories we bought were exceedingly popular for a very long time.

    They were just off the shelf and being used last week, in fact.

    I'm always shocked when folks tell me their kids "outgrew" Little People at age 4. But of course Fisher-Price wants parents to get rid of it, and buy something new.

  7. Haba Walker Wagon. It may be the best toy "investment" I've ever made.

    Assorted recommendations from assorted people here:

  8. I would hesitate to buy Learning Tower only because my duo climb everything and would tip it over in no time.

    For outside we have Kangaroo climber, it has slide and many holes to climb through. Also two cars are a big hit.

    Love fridge farm, only regret - should have bought two...

    Best gift for their first birthday was set of books for toddlers with real pictures of babies, animals, fruits etc. They love reading them and I know all of the pictures by heart.

    One thing I would suggest is look at your kid's temperament and then choose toys, we have some fabulous toys that my kids had no interest in (I bought them because someone else's kids liked them)

  9. Oh, I really want one of those Learning Towers ... it looks so useful.

    We got the twins the activity cart from One Step Ahead when they were about 9 or 10 months old, and they still use it. It's a push toy as well as 4-sided activity.

  10. Oh yes, we also have one of the double-seat Radio Flyer wagons .. they love it, we love it, great thing to have!