My philosophy on toys has changed over the past year. I used to think that we would try to focus on more "natural" toys for Conor - things like wooden rattles made from sustainably sourced materials and stained with beet juice. Those are great, but I guess there's only so much a baby can do with a block of nondescript wood. It's one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but in reailty is a little disappointing, like soup or breakfast burritos. I've realized there's plenty of imagination involved with more traditional toys, and ample opportunity for reusing, recycling, and otherwise mitigating the downside.
And so we find ourselves living in a veritable Toys R Us. Conor has lots of toys. LOTS. He's blessed with a very generous family, which is where many of these came from. I've also recently discovered the joy that is the "Mom to Mom sale", a great source for gently used toys (as are Craigslist, garage sales, and resale shops like Children's Orchard and Once Upon a Child.)
It's hard to pick just a few and his preferences change day to day, but here are some of his current favs.
Melissa & Doug First Vehicles Set
These are very cute and we knew he would like them, but were a little surprised when he knew how to play with them "correctly" so soon. He likes to roll them around gets a kick when we make them "crash."
Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon
Conor loves his little red wagon. It's great for walks around town. We equipped it with a canopy for shade, and it even has cupholders. I prefer it to the stroller for neighborhood walks - easier in and out, he can sit up more, and we can load more stuff in if we're running errands around town.
Fisher Price Music Table
This one really has some staying power! He's been playing with it since Christmas and it's still a favorite. Sometimes it doubles as a walker because he likes to push it across the floor.
Playskool Walk 'n Ride
Great because it transforms from a walker to a ride-on toy. He doesn't quite get the ride-on part yet, but once he masters walking I think he will transition to that.
Early Years Sweet Baby Blocks
Just like his cousin Madeline, Conor loves to "build a tower" and knock it over. These blocks are colorful, soft, and clean up easily.
Bubble Bellies - Boubly the Hippo
Conor loves bubbles ("bubbas")! I like this because there are no messy wands to deal with.
Step2 Naturally Playful Sand and Water Center
He could spend an hour easily playing with his sand and water table! He really likes the sandbox at school but I was hesitant to get one at home because of the mess, and this was a perfect solution. The umbrella is large and covers a lot of area, and the lid is very secure. We've had no problems with leaks or having it blow off. It's also a good size and height for him.
IKEA Farm Animals and Barn
IKEA is a great source for toys! (Like this play kitchen - do little boys get play kitchens??? I hope so.) Conor spends a lot of time playing with his farm. It looks like this is unavailable from IKEA at the moment. Hopefully they will bring it back because it's great! (I'm still waiting for the return of their easels.)
Homemade Pop Bottle Shaker - You know how with some cats, you buy all these expensive toys for them and they are just as content to play with those as with a ball of aluminum foil or an empty cardboard box? Babies are the same way (at least, Conor is!) Some of his favorite things to play with are shoes, measuring spoons, and magazine subscription cards. This is one of his favorite music toys, made from an old Diet Coke bottle and a handful of beads. I sealed the cap very securely with glue so there's no chance he could choke on a bead.
Fisher Price Nursery Rhymes CD Player* - I saw this at a garage sale and remembered Madeline playing with one, so I had to buy it. The songs are pretty hilarious and over the top.
*not actually a CD player