Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bright Copper Kettles and Warm Woollen Mittens

Some of Ben's favorite toys are not toys. I'm not surprised by that, as toys for babies are largely total failures. Do toy manufacturers never put babies in a room with a box of objects and just watch which ones fascinate?

Some of the objects which have obtained resident status in toy boxes because of sustained interest:

The ex-mobile cards (from the Manhattan Baby Infant Stim-Mobile). I guess you could argue that these were intended as a toy -- sort of. But they're certainly not being used as intended. We cut the little pokey bits off and smoothed the rough edges so they're more or less just round, rigid plastic cards with colorful images on them. He loves to turn them over and over in his hands, gum them, fish them out of boxes. They may be his longest-running consistent favorite.

The remote control. We took the batteries out of the remote from a long-expired dvd player (luckily, Andy is an electronics packrat, so the remote from a dvd player we haven't had for two years was in the bag of remotes, of course). It's smaller than the universal remote he's perpetually lunging for, and no one uses it but him (which I'd have thought would reduce its interest significantly, but doesn't seem to), but oh man, does he love the buttons. It also gets turned over and over and gummed.

Similarly, the old cordless phone, also with its battery removed. Toy phones are a staple of childhood, but kids today have a crummy crop of them, in my opinion. Most people use only cell phones, and have you seen toy cell phones? So lame. We're among those who still have a land line and use a cordless, but I don't think I've ever seen a toy cordless phone. But we did have an old cordless handset lying around (see above re packrat), which has been in Ben's toy box since before he could really even hold it properly. Buttons. Kid loves buttons. I should add that Andy's mom gave him a toy ye-olde phone -- the Fisher Price "chatter" phone we all remember from our childhoods (which is no doubt why they still make them), which Ben also loves. But it bears as little resemblance to the phones he sees us using as one of the cats or a glass of milk, so I don't see it having a lot of imaginative-play value. When he gets around to that, which of course isn't yet.

An empty tea tin. Go figure. It's red and metallic. It's of a slightly awkward size which tends to slip from his fingers and there for need to be chased. I've been thinking of putting a coin inside to make it a rattle, but I'm not 100% confident he can't get the lid off.

Kitchen gadgets, especially large bowls, small pans, measuring spoons, and a mesh strainer. We haven't baby-proofed the kitchen yet, but when we do, I intend to give him access to at least one cabinet which I will stock with as many baby-safe kitchen implements as I can conveniently donate to the cause. I've started looking at the gadget aisles in kitchen stores with new eyes, too, and I recommend them to parents of inquisitive crawlers as a source of relatively inexpensive toys which not only may have more lasting interest than some musical horror, but which may actually have a life after baby as useful household objects.

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