Sunday, November 4, 2007

First Birthday Toys

Our babies are turning one, and the hottest topic of discussion in our mommy's group is First Birthday gifts. By this time next year, our babies will have strong likes and dislikes and gift giving will be easier. For now, do we choose that special gift that our one-year-old will love, but not quickly outgrow?

Here are my top suggestions.

1. Blocks

A good set of blocks starts out small and grows with the child. They can be used for knocking down, stacking, and building. My older children played blocks until their early teens and can still be persuaded to build a palace or a robot for a younger sister.

I love the bright colors and patterns on Haba blocks. They have mirrors, prisms - even bells. When Linnea finds a block with a bell, her whole face lights up. Either Haba's Discovery Blocks ($17.99) or Erste Steine Wooden Baby Blocks ($23.49) or even Fantasy Blocks ($32.98) are great starter sets that can be expanded on when the baby is ready for more blocks.

2. A Doll

On Merlin's first birthday (he'll be 18 soon!), I took him to the toy store to see what kind of toys he liked. The thing that really appealed to him was a big squishy baby doll.

Babies like to cuddle and a cuddly doll will be the focus of pretend play for a few years. I'd keep the doll simple, with sewn down hair and no parts that can be removed.

Linnea will be getting the Pea Pod Baby from A Toy Garden, which is made by hand in the U.S. (be sure to use our discount code STB1007). Another nice option is Magic Cabin's organic woolen baby doll which sells for $49.98. Joy's Waldorf Doll's Heavy Baby ($49.98) is very sweet and is also available in a kit, if you'd prefer to make your own. And you can't go wrong with a Kathe Kruse Nicki Baby ($18.95).

If plastic is OK, >Babipouce ($21.95) are adorable and just the right size for a one year old. They have a soft vanilla scent.

3. Cars and trucks

While my son got a doll for his first birthday, my daughters received trucks. Elfie's was a red fire truck and Arielle's was a big yellow dump truck. Palumba's Dandy Delivery Truck ($19.99) appears to be a nice choice with room in the back for a small doll. Although pricey, Selecta cars and trucks like Autorello ($26.99), Autopino ($16.99), and Topeto ($12.99) are beautiful and unique. Selecta also makes an abundance of fun push and pull toys that are available at either Oompa or Blueberry Forest and make excellent gifts. Finally, I love the simplicity of Bajo cars and trucks ($7.49-$19.99) - especially the girly car which is exclusive to Oompa.

4. Wagon

Babies love something to push, and a wagon gives a wobbly walker some stability and allows a little one to take her treasures with her. Arielle had the Brio Doll Pram ($29.99). It was inexpensive, but fell apart within months. I called Brio and they shipped me a new one, this also fell apart. I've heard nice things about the Radio Flyer Walker Wagon ($67.99). The Haba pushing car ($153.99) is quite expensive, and has room for a bear or doll. Other Haba options include the doll pram in blue and red ($119.00) or girly pinks ($148.99) and a walker wagon ($135.00). My only problem with the walker wagon is that it says it is not intended for children to sit in, but it's shape certainly invites sitting. Finally, there is the wagon of my dreams, the Micky Walker Wagon from Bartl. This adorable mouse has two smaller mice that trail behind. I lucked onto a sale last week and ordered it. It requires assembly, but I'll definitely be reviewing it in the future.

5. Ball

It's simple and inexpensive and (yes) plastic, but one of Linnea's favorite toys is this ball from Togu. carries a wonderful selection of Togu balls ($4.50-$8.50 depending on size, and I suggest the smaller balls like the one Linnea is chasing). Togu balls are made in Germany and their toys meet all European safety standards, so no phthlatates or PVC. This particular ball has been around for almost three years and is still bouncing strong.

The blocks, the Haba and Bartl wagons, the Nicki Doll and several of the cars and trucks as well as a small selection of Togu balls are available at >Oompa, and Oompa has generouly given us a 5% discount code (2007SARAS) which is good until November 21.

Happy Birthday to all you wonderful November 2006 babies!

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