Does anyone still need a teddy bear or baby doll?

The short answer is: of course they do.

So yesterday before our Today Show segment I went to say hi to the 20 plus kids that agreed to be “elves” in our toy test on the plaza. They were all really well behaved…and many totally tuned into their phones and ipads. If you have kids you know the drill and

Wobbly Carmel by Bunnies by the Bay

Wobbly Carmel by Bunnies by the Bay

even if you don’t…if you go out to a restaurant and look around…you see kids engaged with their screens. Makes you wonder about more traditional types of play and the toys that will engage this digital generation. While everyone is totally abuzz about today’s kids monopolizing their parents’ smartphones and tablets, the last generation was equally sucked into their handheld players. The notable difference is that while most kids did not get their first Gameboy until they hit the early school years, infants are now part of the swipe-generation.

From a developmental point of view, the answer to my question is a resounding yes. Especially for younger children, we know that they learn best from real life interactions. Language development comes from talking (not just swiping or zapping a fruit ninja). When kids play with their stuffed animals, dolls, castles, dollhouses and other pretend settings – they are at

Calin Naima by Corolle

Calin Naima by Corolle

the center of their play experience. Things happen at their command and as a result of their own imagination not something created or dictated by a toy designer.  Elmo and his friends are fine for novelty appeal…but they do not offer the same open-ended type of pretend play.

Mon Premier Calin by Corolle

Here’s what else you should know about yesterday. The teddy bears and dolls that we brought to the show (but sadly ran out of time to talk about) were loved by the kids. We planned on talking about the wonderful collection of multicultural Calin baby dolls from Corolle (there is also a boy in the collection), the delicious Teddy Bear and Dog from Bunnies by the Bay and the always popular Calico Critters from International Playthings.

Calico Critters by International Playthings

Calico Critters by International Playthings

These toys may seem old-fashioned or boring compared to their high-tech counterparts, but to kids all of these toys are new and able props to their pretend world. And we certainly need our kids to pretend, to dream, to imagine and not just watch a screen.

To read reviews about all  of these wonderful toys, please visit our site.

Sometimes rules are really hard…

Ok, so one of our rules about bath toys for kids is no squirters.  Yes, yes…squirters are really fun. But here’s the thing–if you don’t get all of the water out of them…and your child has taken a bath, it can pose a a problem.  (Maybe it’s a little OCD of us–but would you take a bath and then save some of the water, only to squirt it potentially in your mouth the next night?)   I guess if you really washed them out-and made sure they’re really, really empty and completely dry…

As a result, we’ve passed on lots of fun bath toys…ALEX entices us every year with new sets of squirters…and one of Corolle’s lines of dolls also come with these squirters.  We pass on them too. There is no government regulation–just our concern that used bathwater needs to go completely bye bye.

Which is why it completely pains us to pass on the new Gotz Maxy Aquini 16″ Bath Baby Doll. We love her sundress (really, I would wear it to the beach)…and her purple crocs are wonderfully hip.  Because we can’t crawl in the box and implore you throw out the froggy squirter (he’s pretty cute too)..we can’t give this doll an award–otherwise she’d be a clear winner. Really–look at her feet!


Pick of the Day: Gender Free Stroller from Corolle

It’s hard to find a non-pink stroller which is why we were really delighted when this green/blue  umbrella strollers arrived from Corolle. There is also a pink/red version that’s cute–but in terms of newsworthy–this  combo is a great option. If we want our sons to grow up being involved dads–role playing with dolls is equally important to them as it is for little girls. The mechanism for opening the stroller is not something your kids will do–but this lightweight stroller is just right for strolls outside.

I think I’ve written about this before — or maybe I just still feel so guilty about it–but I broke my first doll stroller by take a little ride in it myself.  The salesman at Alexanders kept telling my Mom that it was clear that I sat in it. I stood there silently as my mother defended my honor. I was three.   Ok–I’m prepared to finally let this go. It’s been a while.