This is a two part post because each topic is separate, but yet they feed off the other.
The activity center:
I highly dislike these types of toys. In a world of smart phones, high speed Internet, cable TV, this is just one more flashy thing, that keeps your child “occupied”. I feel these are more for the parents than the child. So what don’t I like about them? For starters, It doesn’t teach your child as much as you do when you talk and interact with them. Secondly, it doesn’t require imagination or creativity. When did blocks and stuffed animals get replaced with a hunk of plastic adorned with flashing lights and music? I’m not against all of these new age toys, I just believe in moderation with a good dose of parental involvement. We have two ‘electronic type’ toys, one specifically designed to help with balance and walking. But, his favorite toys are the most simple: blocks, balls, and pots and pans.
Here’s what we do many times a day. I build a castle while narrating a story
and he tears it down
We’re working on him helping to build the castle, but either way, this is much more fun than sitting or standing around a bunch of flashing lights.
So what was the fuse that lit this match? On to part II.
Babies R US:
After being told that we had to visit Babies R Us and register when I was pregnant, I went and hated it. Not only was it overwhelming, but I had done my research and earmarked a few brands that I wanted to look at in person only to find out that they didn’t carry them in the store. Not only do they not have them in the store, but they are allowed to only carry certain brands (their online selection is much more varied). I haven’t been back since, until yesterday, and was reminded why. I feel that they push brands and products by making it seem that your child will not survive without this list of stuff. I always seem to end up questioning my parental choices and thinking, “maybe he needs this?” So far, my child has thrived with out half the stuff on their list.
Furthermore, I feel that they are not giving the consumer enough of the big picture to make choices about what they want for their child. It’s seems like brainwashing. Have we become so busy that we fail to research all our options? Take diapers for example. I wanted to use cloth diapers because I believe it’s more kind to the environment. There is one tiny rack, hidden and almost impossible to find, dedicated to cloth diapers and covers when really there are so many options. I understand that this practice is not mainstream, but what if these options were prominently displayed and the sales people were more educated on all the choices? With all the information, would you choose differently? Fortunately for me, where I live there are plenty of baby stores that cater towards this way of thinking. They carry a variety of environmentally conscious brands as well as mainstream. Not only that, but I find that they tend to carry many more toys that require imagination.
Between the few choices of creatively inspiring toys and the lack of options, Babies R Us, I don’t for foresee us having much of an amicable relationship in the future.