Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

Review: Little Tikes Activity Garden

It sits a little uncomfortably with me how much my kiddies love this toy. I’m a lover of slow toys made with natural, sustainable materials. So far for B’s 1st birthday I’ve bought her a xylophone and Robinia blocks from the lovely Myriad Toys. They arrived yesterday and are beautiful….

…I digress. I console myself that if we must have a large plastic toy in the middle of our living room at least it’s a very much loved and played with bit of plastic. To be fair Little Tikes don’t rate too badly on the ethical front anyway. Ethical Consumer gives MGA Entertainment an Ethiscore of 14/20 which is actually really high!!! Good news for all those Baby Born’s and Baby Annabel’s out there as it’s the same company behind them. However, I admit this was an impulse buy and not a premeditated ethical purchase! Luckily this is one of very few successful impulse buys. Two years on and we’re on our second child and she loves it just as much as her big brother.PicMonkey Collage 10

We bought it when J was just starting to sit up. We propped him up inside and he spent ages playing peekaboo and passing balls through the hole in the window. Once he got on the move he loved crawling through the open “slide” end. Now he’s 2 1/2 it’s “My house” where he role plays being the postman or the Tesco delivery man! It took him a while to master the doorbell although his sister has caught on much quicker!

11 month old B loves it equally as much and has just mastered the shape sorter letter box. She’s also found it a fantastic place to practice pulling up and now cruises around in circles.

Probably most surprisingly it’s one of the few a places that both kiddies will play together…for a little while at least!

The only parts that they don’t bother with is the telescope and the electronic phone unit. To be honest I’m glad because telescope tends to block the door a little and the phone is actually quite hard to put back onto the receiver. Both of which would probably make my 2 year old’s head explode with frustration! I was trying to imagine what I would put in the phone panel as an alternative. My top three ideas were:

  1. Climbing frame/wall. They climb over it anyway so why not make it purpose built!
  2. Ball track and pounder
  3. Lots and lots of holes to feed a ball through – the hole in the window alone has given hours of fun!

Anyway, have you experienced the joy of a Little Tikes Activity Garden? One of the few plastic toys that I’d say is well worth the money.



New baby? 5 Dog’s Eye Views

WP_20151018_006It’s happened. You’ve been their trusty companion for X years but recently you’ve been sidelined. Giving their dating track record you didn’t think it would ever happen. Eventually you had to make room on the sofa for the husband – that was bad enough! Now there’s a new kid in town and it’s screeching round the clock and tearing up the house…no, they’ve not got a cat…they’ve had a baby!! How do you know….

1. Walks

Your thrice daily walks have been replaced by a brief buggy push if you’re lucky and only if it coincides with nap time. The walk time preparation seems to take longer than the walk. Snowsuits…raincovers…changing bags. Wake me when you’re actually ready to leave the house.WP_20160210_004

2. Toys

The house used to littered with your toys but ever since the baby started to lick your Kong they have gradually been placed out of reach….both from the baby, and from you. Ironically, the babies toys look mighty similar to your own toys…all very confusing!

3. Water

Your water bowl has moved outside ever since the baby was found blowing bubbles in it. Now you have to stand in the rain and wind to have a drink. You remember a time when you ate and drank in the kitchen with the rest of the family.

4. Confinement

You seem to have progressively less access to the house. You remember when you used to sleep on the human’s bed. Now there are stair gates all over the place. At least your chair remains untouched. To add insult to injury you’ve even been relegated to the car boot when you go for a drive. Once you were even left at home because there was no room for you and the buggy!!!

But, hey, it’s not all bad….

4. Company

Yes, there’s screaming but that leads to plenty of company during the night…maybe even a midnight feast or two. Nowadays the humans rarely venture out far – they’re much too tired and the baby pretty much has them under house arrest. They would certainly never be out passed 8 o’clock!!

5. Food

There’s food everywhere. The humans graze all day (and night) and did I mWP_20160210_005ention weaning. This is awesome. It’s literally raining food from the high chair! There’s also lots of new flavours…puréed sweet potato (it’s their first baby!), wet nappies, soiled nappies, dry nappies etc etc. For any self respecting Labrador this is food heaven.

So I guess it’s not all bad. As long as they don’t have another one…….TBC




Top 5 Toys for 2-Year-Olds?

When it comes to Birthdays and Christmas I love to spend hours trawling through “toy” sites trying to find the best gifts ever – educational/fun/long-lasting/independent playable etc. etc. I like to spoil my kids but in a minimalist sort of way. They have loads of toys (partly due to very enthusiastic grandparents!) and we rotate them every few weeks (the toys, not the grandparents!). Toy rotation is fantastic. It’s like Christmas day in our house after I’ve swapped the toys around! They get so excited to see old favourites reappear and play much better with the smaller number of toys on offer. My 2 year old does ask for specific toys now he’s older and that’s fine. I just swap out something he hasn’t bothered with for a while. Anyway, I could witter all day about the virtues of rotating toys but the point of this post was to introduce the top five toys that my 2.5 year old currently loves…

  1. Cup ‘o Tea Men £4 from Ikea – Might be an Northern Irish child thing but if there’s something that can be turned into a tea cup he’ll be there with bells on. From day one he turned them upside-down and served tea to everyone. Ikea call them LILLABO figures. Not a planned purchase and it annoys me a bit they’re plastic but pound per play these guys are winners!LILLABO Toy figure IKEA
  2. Our Sofa (Gumtree bargain if anyone’s interested!) – No, this 2 year old is not an aspiring couch potato (yet). Our sofa is a double-decker bus, space rocket, car or wherever else his imagination decides! The skies the limit – literally – we frequently go shopping on Mars! Sometimes it’s a trampoline though we try not to encourage that one too much…hey-ho!
  3. Box Drum (Free with 9 packs of baby wipes!)- this obviously started out life as a baby wipe box and I tried to make a Montessori-style object permanence box – he showed zero interest! Then he saw someone play a box drum and has never looked back.   WP_20160120_002
  4. “Green” bags (few pounds from amazon!) – otherwise known as bean bags but you have to love the mispronunciation of a toddler! Anyway, we started out practising throw and catch and actually that worked really well. Much easier than catching a ball and he was so pleased with himself. However, they are now used primarily to feed the ducks in our living room. (Just to clarify we do not have ducks in our living room and the “green” bags stay firmly sealed at all times!!) Here’s a pic of our red and yellow green bags:-)WP_20160120_003
  5. “Walking Sticks”(free with wrapping paper). Also used to drop things down and play didgeridoo-style. Most recently used to build a “ladder” to access the loft (the sofa!).WP_20160120_006Anyway, I guess my point is that left to their own devices toddlers can turn anything into anything with a giant smile on their faces. It’s really incredible (and a bit scary) how their little minds work at this age. His imagination literally astounds me everyday – and to be honest I’m a little bit jealous!