May 31, 2012

Fun Little Things: Joy of Toys

Living in a fairly small space with a toddler can be a challenge. Sure they are small but the stuff! There is so much gear and so many toys, it's hard to prevent your own space from being swallowed up by the sea of kiddo loot.

I've seen a number of strategies work for different friends; a giant chest that keeps toys out of sight, picking up and storing everything in the kid's room at the end of each day... but truth be told I am a bit of a toy lover and so I liked the idea of finding a way to coexist with the rainbow of trinkets.

Since we share our adult space with toys and we are both designers, I do like to select items that are well made, will survive to hand down to new children, and that I enjoy looking at. I am fully aware that as Little Smith gets older I won't always have this luxury. For now though, I do sincerely believe that exposure to great materials and good design at an early age is important for a child.

Many of our toys are wooden hand-me-downs or thrifted and those are really the best, but I'm always green with envy when I see great treasures that I can't find myself so I thought I would feature a few of our favorites that you can get your hands on. All of these toys are not only well constructed but they put a smile on my face when I trip over them for the four hundredth time. True they aren't the least expensive on the market, but I prefer quality to quantity and all of these have held up to being tossed and chewed on a daily basis. 

P'Kolino Multi-Solution Shape Puzzle: When we first received this puzzle as a gift I fell in love with the bright colors and quality wood construction but worried that the open ended solutions would be too challenging. To the contrary, it has quickly become our favorite puzzle. Little Smith gets frustrated easily (I think he inherits that one from his father!) so traditional puzzles get thrown around more than solved. This one is wonderful because he can always find a home for each piece and he also loves sporting the large wooden rings as bangles; a puzzle and a fashion statement all in one. I'm eyeing the rocket ship version for his second birthday.

Green Toys fire and dump trucks / Playforever race car / Kid O car and truck: Car was one of Little Smith's first words, followed by what I have decided is his first full sentence of "caar, vroom vroooooom". He is gaga for cars and these are a few of our favorites.

I love the Green Toy products because they are made from recycled material and are large and chunky, making them easy to play with even for babies. The plastic is thick and durable and our trucks look brand new despite a lot of abuse. They don't glide easily, so these guys aren't going to win a floor race any time soon, but they have moving parts and the wheels spin freely when they're upside down providing lots of entertainment.

The designs of all of the Playforever products are just beautiful which, along with truly great construction, explains the high price tags. This race car is definitely a mama favorite on looks alone, but Little Smith really loves the rubber wheels and the racer's head makes a perfect handle for gliding around the floor.

The headlights on the truck and car by Kid O are Little Smith's favorite part. They don't actually light up but just the reflection is enough to captivate pudgy little fingers. The clever handle shape of the car made it one of the first that he actually got moving and the back of the pick-up truck is a favorite spot for storing letter blocks. The shiny plastic does get a bit scuffed over time but is good heavy quality, plus the retro-meets-futuristic designs are a lot of fun.

Melissa & Doug frog / Vilac ladybug / Plan Toys alligator pull toys: Watching Little Smith drag these guys around is somehow very entertaining, simple pleasures! He's getting better at it all the time and the latest thing is assembling a whole collection and pulling them in unison. Pull toys seem to be the one toy type that is still widely available in wood, so classic. These three win the prize in our house for durability, fun moving parts, and sheer cuteness.

Sprig Toys stacker: When I think baby toy my mind immediately goes to the traditional cone stacker. I'm not a fan of the thin hollow plastic ones and while I like the look of the wood versions, the dowel that sticks out when the rings are removed seems like it might be slightly dangerous. There is a version by Green Toys that I came close to getting but my heart was really set on rainbow colors (I'm kind of a rainbow fanatic) and it didn't seem to 'stack' so much as 'nest'. I'm glad I held out because my mom found this one from Sprig Toys and it's the best of all world's. It is made from recycled plastic, stacks with different shape cut-outs, and even has little beads inside each of the pieces so it doubles as a bunch of rattles. We have gotten so much use out of this toy at various stages, I just love it.

Yes we are still slightly over-run by toys, but most of the time I actually love being surrounded by the fun and color and all of these brighten my days. We're still working on getting Little Smith to help and put things back on the shelf when he's done, he's pretty resistant to clean up (that one he gets from his mama!).


  1. Great selection of toys! Wish my kids were smaller. ;) And, it looks like your place is charming, toys and all! I think you are right to carefully select them, because things can quickly get out of control. I speak from experience! :)

  2. Love the way certain toys can lay about & look like they are part of the decor. Fantastic taste!

  3. We have the Green recycle and dump trucks and they're definitely faves around here! It's always a challenge trying to incorporate all the kid stuff with the grown up stuff in a fairly aesthetically pleasing way. Yay for challenges! ;)


    p.s. I love the red piano!

  4. Cute, cute toys! Thanks for introducing me to some new fun things! My father makes wooden toys, and they are my *very* favorite of all the kid's toys. I've been planning on a post to show them off :)

    1. Wow, hand-made wooden toys are really special. Looking forward to the post!


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