It’s that time of year when we are starting to think about what toys to buy Miss Belle for Christmas and her second birthday which is only a week later on New Year’s Day. (I know…)
The other day when I was googling and writing our wish list to send to family, I looked around the living room at the sea of brightly coloured plastic and I realised that some of the toys that were catapulted into our lives last year have lasted really really well. Miss Belle definitely has her favourites, so I thought I’d share our favourite toys of 2016 for anyone else looking to buy gifts for a soon to be 1 year old.
1. VTech Baby Discovery Activity Tree
Top of the list and absolutely Miss Belle’s favourite has to be the VTech Baby Discovery Activity Tree.
It is suitable for six months plus, but she’s nearly two and she’s still loving it. She plays with it everyday. There is music about the colours of the balls and apples and numbers one to four. The main drawback is the irritating music (isn’t that true with all plastic muscial toys though?!) The benefits apparently are that it’s good for developing Motor Skills, Language Development and Independent Play. That’s definitely true as it’s one of the toys she will happily play with by herself. Miss Belle is also learning colours and can count to 10 now, so I’m in no doubt there has been some developmental benefit from her playing with this toy. My inlaws bought it when it was on offer for £15 and I’ve seen it still reduced this year. I think that’s pretty reasonable considering how long she’s been playing with it. We are on the second lot of batteries and I wonder how long these ones will last!
2. VTech Sports Centre
So next up is more VTech – the VTech Smart Shots Sports Center.
This was her birthday present from us last year and cost us £40. We actually kept it back and I didn’t bring it out for her to play with until May because of the influx of toys she had at Christmas. I also saved it because she wasn’t weight-bearing until May and that was kind of necessary for her to play with it! Now she is walking, she is playing with it so much more. She is learning to kick the football but her favourite thing is to put the netball through the hoop so that we shout “goal!” and she runs around in celebration.
This one is better for playing with someone though as she loves to pass the ball between Mummy and Daddy. When someone misses we all say “oh no!” dramatically and it has provided endless entertainment. Yes, the music is a little bit irritating and yes she has now worked out how to turn it back on if I turn it off, but she loves it.
3. Chicco Garden Activity Table
Next is the Chicco Game Table Chatterbox Bilingual Es / En 12-18 months. This one’s still plastic and noisy I’m afraid. We wanted an activity table to encourage Miss Belle to stand this time last year. Most activity tables we looked at came in French and English but we asked my parents to get her a Spanish one as we go to Spain every year. I have to admit I don’t know what half of the stuff is saying when it’s on in Spanish, but Miss Belle likes it. I know that in English it goes over numbers, the alphabet, opposites such as small/big and soft/hard. It’s garden themed so talks about flowers, watering cans, snails, caterpillars and so on. From a language skills point of view this toy has great longevity. However it is now getting a bit low for Miss Belle when she’s playing with it stood up. You can take the top off the legs and put it on a higher or lower surface if you need to though.
4. Early Learning Centre Wooden Activity Cube
Despite all the plastic, I love wooden toys, so this Wooden Activity Cube from the Early Learning Centre was on our wish list last year. Miss Belle wasn’t so into it at the start of the year but now really likes playing with it. Her favourite thing to do is draw on the chalkboard side, or should I say, get me to draw her endless planes and stars! As she’s now counting we also play with the side which has numbers on it. The one side she isn’t really fussed about is the clock as she has no idea what it is other than a ‘tick tock’. I think this is pretty good value because it will last for another few years when we move on to learning to tell the time.
5. Little Tikes Sand and Sea Table
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you will have seen Miss Belle absolutely loves her Little Tikes Sand & Sea Table. This was actually an early second birthday present from my parents. It has been fantastic since she has been weight-bearing, particularly in the summer months. Ours is a Little Tikes one and I highly recommend it, as long as you’re ok about sand being thrown everywhere…
So there you have my thoughts on some of Miss Belle’s favourite toys of 2016. I’m sure they will continue to be played with next year, in addition to any new toys that are coming her way. I’m just worried about where any new ones are going to live! I will no doubt hold some back or rotate them around so she doesn’t get too much at once.
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