Once getting pregnant with Kaio, i vowed not to succumb to consumerism: the brainwashing that makes you think you need the crib with baby print bed sheets, bumper, curtains, the baby bouncer, the baby Einstein, the educational development toys that stimulate sensory development, etc. I wanted none of it. So for most of my kids life i have been minimalistic with their items and relying on craigslist, freecycle, second hand sales, and gifts from family and friends to provide their clothes and toys. Well we've been managing. Occasionally i would buy some handmade wood toys, especially in Brazil where the prices are good for us. But in general not much buying toys. Instead, I've been trying to teach the kids to be creative with trash. I mean, in Brazil kids play with deflated soccer balls and have a good time, so I'm never going to be convinced that we NEED anything special.
Well the paradigm is shifting. Kaio has been getting into popular movies and shows, like Cars and Thomas the Tank Engine. When we went to New York there was a group of kids in Central Park playing with little dye cast Cars characters, and he joined them and had so much fun replaying the movie action with the little cars. When I saw that, I decided that they were good for him to play out activities and see that he could control a little world of his own. We also got him a Thomas the Tank Lego Duplo set and he loves the Thomas so much that he used to take it with him EVERYWHERE. He was so excited about his Thomas. luckily that phase of needing to take Thomas everywhere with him has passed.
I know that many people discourage brand characters because they believe that they cloud creativity and imagination. I used to feel like that and think Dora was a freak. But for Kaio, I have now seen that they are beneficial. Since we have started exposing him to some movies, I have seen that they are actually helping him learn different ways to interact with the world and different situations that he can practice though mimicking. Maybe he is a bit like me: I can paint really beautiful when I am looking at a scene but I am awful at painting an image from my imagination.
Since they are getting older and it is winter, so i want them to be entertained with things in the house and I want items that stimulate their imagination. Since we don't have as much time as I would like to make stuff and crafts out of trash, I've been looking for good non-toxic toys for them to enjoy. I have found a couple winners that I wanted to share.
Green Toys Tea Set (ordered it from diapers.com or amazon) . It is made out of recycled yogurt containers and is also made in the USA. I have been very impressed that it does not feel frail and icky like plastic toys can sometimes feel. We have been having tea parties and she has been slowly learning to hold cups sturdy and practicing drinking and stirring. I put some crumpled paper in the sugar dish and that was fun to pretend with. Kaio has a recycling truck from the same company that he got for his birthday and that has been a winner as well.
Automoblox. It is like a wooden Lego car. You can take all the pieces apart and figure out how to put them back together. It is like a 3 dimensional puzzle. They are German engineered and very chic. I only got him the mini because the full size can run between $25 - $40 a piece. But, he seems to like it so I may make the investment. If you get multiple ones then you can mix and match the parts. I wish that they made ones that were trains, not cars, because he is obsessed with trains right now. He used to be obsessed with cars last year, so this would have been an even better toy back then. But this still manages to keep his attention for a while, and probably would even more if he had a couple to mix and match.