Tag n Play Pals by Taggies

taggies plush puppy

Source: Taggies

The little plush puppy you see in the image above, a Tag n Play Pal by Taggies, is unequivocally my son’s favorite toy. He got it for Christmas from his grandparents, and it has since become his comfort object. He will literally take this with him wherever he goes—picture him crawling around the entire house, pulling his dog along with him—it’s pretty much the cutest thing EVER. Kai’s beloved Taggies toy has been named “Woofie” in our house (yeah, we aren’t too creative with names), and we are already waiting for the day when Kai can call him by name.

WHAT IT IS

Baby’s perfect companion at home or on-the-go!
This sweet plush puppy is covered with soft fabric and satin tags for your baby to touch and explore. The chime ball in the body makes this new friend sound as cheerful as it looks and feels!

PRICE $28-38

WHAT I LOVE

This puppy is so velvety soft and cuddly. He’s got the cutest little expression too. We’ll make Woofie bark, lick Kai’s cheek, and pant like a dog. We have him interact with Kai’s toys, play hide-and-seek with him, “read” to/with him, and generally act silly—we’ll put a bib over his eyes and make him run into things until Kai takes it off, for example. We have Kai’s toys on a constant rotation to help him stay interested in playtime, except for two toys: his stacking blocks and Woofie.

my son playing with his taggies toyI also love that it’s washable. That’s kind of a must for any baby, I’d say. And he washes well, without any matting, so don’t worry if your little one gets banana or spit up or a combination of the two on this toy—I speak from experience, people.

It’s worth mentioning that he’s got a hook that’s perfect for attaching him to a stroller, car seat, play mat, or anything that’s convenient. And Woofie’s eyes, mouth, etc. are embroidered and so he’s perfectly safe for any age (birth and up). Even though Kai didn’t have a Taggies toy until he was 9 months old, he still loves him at 11 months! Ryan and I were a bit worried that we missed having him around for the prime stage when Kai was fascinated by tags. And I do think that he would have absolutely loved this toy as early as three months old. So we were really impressed that he’s not too old for it yet. He loves exploring the silky tags sometimes, but regardless he loves playing with him. It’s a stuffed animal, after all—I may have never grown out of some of mine. 😉

ON THE DOWNSIDE

The only thing I can mention here is that this toy has a sweet little jingling bell inside. It’s not loud or annoying in my eyes, but it’s sensitive to any sort of light touch. This means that we won’t be able to put him in Kai’s crib once he hits a year old—it would probably wake him up! So while I think the bell is great for playtime, it doesn’t work for naptime or bedtime. Since it’s designed for birth and up, that isn’t normally a problem. (Babies under a year old should not sleep with a stuffed animal or blankets, pillows, etc. Please take a sec to read about SIDS if you haven’t yet!)

The bell isn’t really an issue, but one real problem is that it appears our sweet little Woofie is becoming a rarity. He’s hard to find online and I’m really worried that Taggies will stop selling him. Check out where to buy below.

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

I LOVE this toy because my son LOVES this toy. It’s safe, soft, engaging, and cuddly. It’s very well made and I bet my son will be loving this toy well beyond a year old!

WHERE TO BUY

Amazon has 2 of these left at the time of this posting. TWO! Yikes. You may wanna hurry if you’ve decided to buy him.

Target sells him as part of a Taggies pack that includes a matching blanket, plush ball, and triangle. That’s why the price range I listed goes a little high, but it may be worth the extra $10 if you’re interested in a few other accessories.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

Sophie the Giraffe Teether by Vulli

Sophie the GiraffeI can’t be a self-respecting mama and product reviewer until I’ve blogged about Sophie the Giraffe. It seems everybody with a little one either already owns one (or more) or is really curious about this toy. When I showed up to a mom’s group at church with one, I got all sorts of questions.

WHAT IT IS

Vulli’s Sophie the Giraffe has been amusing babies for 50 years. Made of 100% natural rubber and food paint, the BPA- and phthalate-free Sophie is soothing and safe for your teething baby. Sophie’s unique design, pattern and texture stimulate all of your baby’s senses during playtime. She makes a happy sound when squeezed, stimulating hearing and helping your baby understand the link between cause and effect. Height: 7” (18 cm)

PRICE $20-26

WHAT I LOVE

playing with Sophie the Giraffe

my baby & Sophie

When Kai first showed signs of teething, my husband and I ran out to Babies R Us and bought this toy! We’d seen an entire display dedicated to it there, and we wanted to do ANYTHING we could to help our son with his teething pain. My favorite part? Natural rubber and FOOD paint! I was just especially aware of anything that went near his little mouth in that first year, as concern over milk and food are at an all-time high. (Is he drinking enough? How many feedings did he have today?) So this toy really relieved any mama worries I had. If you’ve seen a used Sophie before, you may be less than impressed at first: her spots have faded and sometimes completely disappeared. Maybe her squeaker isn’t working too. So, what’s all the fuss about? It really does soothe a teething baby!

Kai was drawn to play with Sophie before he was teething in earnest. He just loved holding it at first. But then as teething hit, he seemed much more intentional about chewing on it for pain relief. That’s what makes this more than a toy! Just yesterday he was purposefully placing it in his mouth right where he has two teeth coming in. I love how many different textures he can explore on it—from her nubby horns to her soft little hooves, no matter where his bite lands, it’s going to be comforting for him.

When he’s not in a mouthy mood, Kai loves trying to get Sophie to squeak by shaking her like a rattle! My husband showed him that if you hold her by the neck, she’ll flop in such a way that her squeaker will respond. Charming, no? 😉

We take Sophie with us almost wherever we go. I love having the reassurance that if he needs to chew on something, she’s there.

ON THE DOWNSIDE

What a Used Sophie the Giraffe Looks Like

our well-loved Sophie after 6 months of use

I don’t really have anything to offer in criticism of this toy. But let me address some of the possible concerns you may have. Her paint does fade. It’s just the sign of a well-loved teething toy, and you can rest easy that the food paint hasn’t harmed your baby. Her squeaker can sometimes go silent after washing, which is a side-effect of a water-logged toy. The instructions say to “wipe clean”, but that wasn’t really enough for me to get any dirt off (it can get sticky!). I found that just hand-washing her quickly and then drying her well, shaking and squeezing a few times, will cure any squeaking issues. You don’t want your baby accidentally squeezing any water out during play, so this was key.

As far as the price, I totally get why some people balk at the cost! In fact, WE did too, but just went for it because we thought it would help Kai with teething. My take is that it is WORTH the money. She’s made in France, she’s all-natural, and the design is perfect. We have gotten tons of mileage out of this toy for both playtime and teething relief. And we have tried a copycat, but it was made in China and reeked to high heaven. I was horrified with the smell…Sophie does have a faint rubber smell but nothing very noticeable. My advice is to spring for her and keep your receipt (though I bet you won’t need it!)

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

I’m a fan! Sophie provides comfort during teething and entertainment even on the rare day where teething isn’t an issue.

WHERE TO BUY

You can purchase Sophie the Giraffe from a multitude of online retailers. Here’s a start: Nordstrom, Babies R Us, and Amazon.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.

The World of Eric Carle: Nesting Blocks by Kids Preferred

eric-carle-stacking-nesting-blocks

Ok, parents. These nesting blocks are the bomb. They are on my list of essentials, even though they are a toy—because babies need stimulation and play in order to learn! But you already knew that. What you may not already know is that these blocks just may give you a cart-attack. They are THAT amazing.

You have probably heard of or already own some of Eric Carle’s top-selling children’s books. We have The Hungry Caterpillar box set, and we get LOTS of use out of it (but that’s a review for another day). These blocks feature Eric Carle’s signature illustration style and characters.

WHAT IT IS

Eric Carle Stacking/Nesting Blocks are a set of 10 paperboard blocks that are open on one side. They can be nested together or stacked (like in the pic above). Each block represents a different animal, color, number, and group of letters. They are illustrated with all the characters from the author’s books so toddlers will recognize their favorite characters too. They are recommended for ages 6 months+.

PRICE: $17-20

WHAT I LOVE

image

my son nesting the blocks

We received these blocks as a Christmas gift for my son, Kai, when he was 9 months old. He’s now almost 11 months, and they are still a go-to for playtime. We usually keep them nested once he’s done playing, and the next time he encounters them, he loves pulling them apart. (His daddy taught him to take them apart at about 9.5 months.) But they do more than that—he also loves to put things inside the boxes, like a small ball or other toy. Kai can re-nest them if we help him pair a smaller box with one that’s a couple of sizes larger so it’s easier for him. He will sometimes put the small boxes inside large toys, like a bowl or his barn. And if we stack them for him, he loves trying to grab one of the boxes as well as knocking them down. We’ve used them to build a “city” and to create a valley for his train to drive through. We’ve created obstacles for other toys to encounter with them by creating stair-steps for his giraffe to climb up, or putting one of them on his stuffed animal’s foot like a shoe or on the head like a hat—he’ll usually smile and pull it off for them. Even though he’s a little young, we use the toys for repetition and teaching him colors, shapes, animals, and numbers.

Are you with me? Off the top of my head, I just listed TEN uses for this toy!

  1. pulling them apart
  2. putting things inside
  3. re-nesting them
  4. placing small boxes inside other toys
  5. knocking down a stack or taking one from the stack
  6. building a city
  7. creating a bridge or valley for vehicles to drive through
  8. stair-steps for other toys to climb
  9. creating shoes and hats for other toys
  10. teaching colors, numbers, etc.

That’s just what he can do with them right now. Eventually he’ll get the hang of stacking them himself, and he’ll probably take on the creative role with them as he gets older. Sometimes the simplest toys really are best! Playing with them was intuitive for him and I think the fact that they are simple makes them a creativity magnet.

They also come in a perfect-sized box with a handle for easy travel. We’ll be taking them with us on our vacation coming up in a month since they are so easy to take along and will help him stay entertained.

And I’ve heard that these blocks keep a toddler’s interest and we’ll get LOTS more use out of them, from months to years from now!

ON THE DOWNSIDE

I bet you’re wondering one thing: Will they hold up to baby drool/biting?

image

On the left: the joys of teething! On the right: the damaged block holding up pretty well.

My short answer is yes. But here’s the longer answer…Kai went through a phase where he would only want to use these to bite. He’d grab one and start grating it with his lower teeth. On one of them, he started scraping away the coating in one small spot—luckily I was right there to make sure it didn’t come loose and end up in his mouth (see pic). We put the blocks away for about a week, and would occasionally test it out to see if that was still what he wanted to do with them. Every time he started scraping them with his teeth, we’d just put them away. After a week, he was done. It doesn’t even occur to him to try it any more, to the point where I almost forgot to mention it here. Drool wipes off easily.

They are paperboard, so they are susceptible to some damage. But I prefer that they are lightweight instead of plastic or wood because my baby can throw! My husband actually sat on one of the blocks one day, but to our amazement, the block was just dented (see pic). We still get a lot of use out of our one deformed block, and actually, it’s one that our son gravitates towards because it’s different.

RATING

★★★★★ 5/5

These blocks are just the perfect toy. They are educational, stimulating, and creativity-inspiring, and have provided countless hours of fun for my little boy. They are my first cart-attack MUST-HAVE product and my first review because if I had to pick only one toy that we’d get our son, this one would be it. My advice to those of you waiting to put these in your cart: stop it! 🙂 Toss it in and your baby will THANK you…you know, once they can actually speak.

WHERE TO BUY

You can get these online from Amazon and Diapers.com.

I am not affiliated with this company and was not compensated in any way for this review.