When it comes to buying things for the little ones, or as I may say for Sayuri, I have always been very cautious, particular and selective. I feel that if something only holds value for six months, I can do without it. Case & point - I never got a bassinet (as adorable as they might be), baby rocker and a baby monitor. For the most part, I am very wary of consumerism and how brilliant advertising makes us believe that we need something even though we don't. But I can definitely say that there are some toys that I feel every single child should have.
Needless to say, we never get plastic toys. Nor do we get toys that need batteries to be operated. The sounds that they make incessantly, the lights that they blink and the lack of imagination that is so intrinsic to their whole operation just drives me crazy. Sorry, I digress. I feel that toys should enhance thinking and imagination while being cute as a button. Remember the old school finger puppets that our mommies used to make from the left-over wool from back in the sweater-knitting days.
Here are a few of my favorite toys from Sayuri's closet.
Winding carousels and other winding toys-
We all grew up with these, but then they disappeared. I still remember the excitement that four month old Sayuri couldn't contain while watching two snowmen dance in redundant circles with Für Elise from its winding music box. So adorable, pretty and simple.
Jack in the Box -
The number of laughter outbursts every single time "Jack" pops out will honestly make you become a child again. At times, I wondered how someone can be so easily amused but I guess that's what being a child is all about. Needless to say that good old Jack in the box is teaching them cause and effect while developing their fine motor skills.
Any acoustic musical instrument -
Be it a piano, xylophone, drums, accordion, guitar, or just a small music box, the accomplishment that they get when they hear a sound that they have created is magical. My personal opinion is that each child should be made to learn at least one form of music.
Roll Play toys that come in tin boxes -
How adorable are tin boxes. I think all Indians who were born in the 70s or 80s must remember this cute teal tea box that our parents kept on the shelf for their special Sunday teas. I suppose this box stayed in my mind and I have a thing for tin boxes. No wonder I always fall for role play sets that come in tins, be it the doctor set, carpenter set or a cute tea party set. I specially love the ones that have wooden toys in it. This is how we can teach our children sustainability from the start.
Just as cool as it looks by it's presence in the corner of a room by adding to the aesthetics, it's a very genuine toy that every child must-must have. It's amazing how something so simple can bring so much creativity and skills. Of course, every time when my daughter wants to paint, I think twice before bringing it out. But those two cumbersome minutes are soon forgotten by the art she makes. Make sure to pick one that has a chalk board on the other side because they go between playing Van Gogh and their class teacher in a matter of hours.
Ride on Toys -
As a mom, I was very nervous when Sayuri got her first car. And I'm talking about a small pink tin car that I ordered from Pottery Barn. But gradually as they start maintaining balance, these toys are so much fun. I designed the rocking horse that Sayuri has and I kept it bare bone after my husband & I spent one wonderful evening cleaning the upholstered one that she already had. The fun you have when your daughter decides to serve the horse an orange popsicle. Recently, we got Sayuri a balance bike and I wasn't ready but she was. The fun she has been having is immense.
Wooden Blocks -
Be it alphabet blocks that are fun for stacking and subtle learning of alphabets, or the magnetic blocks that help them use critical thinking, blocks are a must. I love the inscriptions on Uncle Goose blocks. The cool part, they recently started making Hindi blocks as one of the block sets. And with Tegu, sometimes I find myself building post modern castles.
Childhood should be sublimely magical and I feel that teaching them right from the start about sustainability and picking few but brilliant toys goes a long way. Never underestimate the fun they can have with something as simple as a little magic wand and fairy cape.
Some toy brands that do a brilliant job at being sustainable while creating a wonderland for the little ones are.
Uncle Goose Blocks - https://unclegoose.com How gorgeous are these blocks. And they also have hindi alphabet too. And let me tell you that they are virtually indestructible, just saying.
Tegu Blocks - http://www.tegu.com These ones are very tricky, but there is nothing quite like them. It took some time for Sayuri to understand how they work but now she's a pro.
Vilac - http://www.vilac.com/en/ The magical world that this brand creates is well worth the journey.
Janod - http://www.janod.com Oh the cuteness of a simpler time.
Hape - http://www.hapetoys.com/us/en/ These wonderfully sustainable toys have almost all toy genres covered. The best part - they are available in India.
Schoenhut - http://www.toypiano.com If you are concerned with the accuracy of notes of your toddler's piano, then you should probably go for a Schoenhut.
Schylling - http://www.schylling.com/c/categories_classic-toys Beautiful mechanical tin toys, tin kaleidoscope, pretend picnic sets and more.
Pottery Barn Kids - http://www.potterybarnkids.com They somehow never fail to amaze.
Melissa & Doug -http://www.melissaanddoug.com Apart from cool and quirky wooden toys, finger puppets, puppet theaters, if you ever wanted a life size giraffe, this is the place to go.
Kid Kraft - https://www.kidkraft.com Imagine Janod, but Americanized.