I have two boys who have made me the most amazing creations with Lego. They’d rather not do that with their bony knees on the hard wooden floor in the living room, so often I put the coffee table aside so the container with Lego, which grew bigger and bigger after every birthday, could be overturn on the soft carpet in our sitting area. From the big pile of Lego blocks, wheels and figures they would make beautiful creations, from space ships to drag racers to pea fabrics! I find it great toys, good for their motor skills and their spatial awareness. In my opinion it is a shame that there are more and more pre-made packages on the market; fun to build with the step1 to step 20, 50 and even 100 steps, but it leaves no space for the children’s imagination. In my opinion you can never start too early with encouraging their imagination, and that also counts for girls! And now Lego come with a new series for toddlers: Duplo on wheels! It is a combination of building and rolling, so especially fun if your toddler starts walking.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to keep your baby calm in a packed waiting room or if you’re in line for the bakery. I always had my keys ready or a toy, but you have to find it in your bag and on a moment like that, you often can’t find it. Especially for these moments, Dushi designed the Mama & Kind necklace. The necklace is soft and safe, looks nice with bright colours, big figures, soft fabrics and sounds; enough to entertain your baby if necessary. They have done a lot of research about the safety of the product: there is no danger of loose beads, sharp edges or rough points. Because of the special clasp the necklace will be cut loose if it gets stuck somewhere. The necklace is nice enough to wear as a fashionable accessory with a single coloured dress or top, but my guess is that a small toddler also would love to wear this.
I thought that there were only two types of toy stores in the Netherlands: the one of Blokker (Bart Smit, Intertoys) and the similar Toys2Play, which are well-known for their profuse collection of vulgar plastic toys in similar packages, and besides these stores, a couple of beautiful stores which sell wooden, educative and durable toys and children’s books. But now there is a third player in our country: Imaginarium! The original Spanish chain, which exists for 20 years already, has opened its first establishment in Amstelveen and many will follow. This store wants to differentiate with toys that emphasize education and development and focuses on children from 0 till 9 years old. It mainly sells its own brands. I was in Düsseldorf recently and accidentally I came across an Imaginarium store. Actually you cannot miss it: the windows are so beautiful and inviting for parents and children that you have to stop and take a look…and then the entrances: a big one for the adults and a small one for the children. In the shop there are a lot of original toys for the smallest, like a crawling tunnel, a baby fitness place where the baby can practice its first steps on a mat. But I also found maternity baskets, bed textile and a first set of tableware. I think it is a relief in the world of toys!
Instead of all these plastic toys that aren’t really developed with a lot of fantasy, you can also offer your child something different. I used to love to work with crafts as a child and my children have spent quite some Wednesday afternoons playing with clays, cutting, drawing and painting till they got tired and rather spent some time on the computer. The crafts equipment was later stored in the closet and only came out once or twice when a project or poster needed to be made. I was immediately charmed by the new brand Paper Town. Not really for babies but lots of fun if your child grows a little older! These houses, playgrounds, gas stations, warehouses, cars and buses are inspired by the Polish city life, and are designed by Robert Czajka. Paper Town is available in 3 different sets, which you can combine. One set contains four plates of recycled cardboard with lively colour prints. Everything is punched into cardboard and easily pressed out and folded in each other. Glue or tools aren’t necessary, so it seems suitable for children who are not that creative too.
Lego doesn’t mean harm, but the new Lego Friends products for girls have had a feisty negative reference from the American feministic movement Spark. Sexist and stereotyped is how Spark described these toys. There was even a petition signed by 55.000 people in the United States against these products. There is especially a lot of resistance towards the pink and purple shades and the stereotype settings, like a little kitchen, a beach chair with parasol, a beauty spa and a perfume laboratory. The curving on the Lego dolls, including the breasts, are especially not appreciated. Girls comment by email and social media, stating they also like Star Wars and Harry Potter, want to be creative and love the stories about bad and evil. We have been told a four-year study was conducted on the matter…
Lego seems to be trapped in a classical marketing mistake: put some pink in the mix and it will appeal to all girls and women. According to Marianne van Leeuwen (author of the book: ‘Mag het iets minder roze’) taught me this spring already that feminizing an existing product is doomed to be a failure most of the time. Of course girls play in a different way, but the researchers of such a big label should have taken into consideration the social desires. And people start to get sick of that pink image related to girls and women. There is also another action group in England, just like Spark: Pinkstinks. Their demonstration has resulted that the big toys chain Hamleys stopped differentiating their segments into boys and girls. It would be nice if also Dutch stores like Bart Smit and Intertoys start questioning the lay-out of their stores: no longer separated by gender, but by types of toys!
When you are looking for a nice maternity gift,
these new Milestone Baby Cards make a good suggestion. With these nicely
designed cards, you can record every milestone of your baby. Just write the
date on the card and make a picture of your baby and the card. By doing so, you
can record the moments your baby smiled for the first time, crawled, raised
itself using the table, made its first steps or when the first tooth developed;
all memorable moments. Personally, I think it is also suited for other events;
what about less delightful moments like the baby’s first injection or the first time
he or she falls? I recall an unfortunate incident with my son. When he had just
learned to walk around the table, my eldest son fell on the edge of our coffee
table, resulting in a nasty cut below his eyebrow, the loss of blood and a
visit to the doctor to close the wound. After that, my father in law made a
photograph of my little boy with his pacifier and his inseparable ragdoll, and
a big bandage above his eye. Every time I see this picture, I still shiver…but
hey, it was a milestone, wasn’t it?