Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Best of...The Baby Room

While we await shipments to replace some of our holiday sales (poor Hello Kitty, there is nothing left of her in the back room, every single item is out!), the baby room is still going strong! International Playthings (EarlyYears), Melissa & Doug, Rich Frog, and Little Toy Co. are just some of the great brands we carry. Here are some of our top picks for the infant to toddler crowd.

For the very newest to the world, Angel Dear's animal nap blankets are indubitably the softest, sweetest gift. They come in two sizes, 29 inch square, perfect for cribs or carriages, and a 14 inch square, great for babies to clutch anywhere. The blankets are topped with darling animal heads, from ducks and puppies to giraffes and hippos, with half-moon stitching for closed eyes.

For the baby on the go, Pint Size/Latitude Enfant makes a variety of stroller and play pen toys. Spirale is a brightly colored, smiling caterpillar that can be wound around crib tops or stroller bars, from which hang crinkles, squeakers, and a mirror. You can purchase this from our store's website here.
Manhattan Toy
's Baby-ville Activity Cube combines textures and flaps with another baby favorite: other babies! This 5" cube has knotted ribbon, a peek-a-boo flap, and other grabbable, noise-making parts.

Melissa & Doug gives us the best part of doctor offices: the bead maze from the waiting room! The two sizes, table-top and hand-held, are in primary colors, with chunky shape pieces to wind through spirals and dips. A classic! Our First Bead Maze display is constantly in use, with the occasional parent joining in on the fun.

Petite Madeline fans rejoice! Madeline merchandise, which is notoriously difficult to come by, has expanded with Kids Preferred dolls in various sizes. The Dressable Madeline is a soft, baby safe 13 inch doll with red yarn hair, yellow sailor hat, and removable blue uniform coat. She can be purchased here.

Quite a few companies now carry environment-friendly lines. Our favorites include Miyim plush and Tomy's super new Eco Angels. Miyim stuffed animals are made from organic cotton and toxin-free dye and come in various styles, from Sleepytime's rotund, slumpy, huggable bears to the cuddly, be-frocked elephants and monkeys of the Fairytale collection. Eco Angels are made from plant-based plastics and are packaged in recycled paper. The Starbright Light Show, which clips onto the crib or stands on its own, plays three different lullabies and projects soft light with star and moon designs onto the ceiling.

Sandra Boynton has a whole shelf devoted to her adorable, hilarious, and often singable board books. We love her so much here that, sometimes, life seems like one giant Barnyard Dance. You can even enjoy her silliness in animal cloth books. Shaped like animal heads, the mouths open upward revealing simple, funny phrases or a "squeeze me!" button that actually barks, moos, or squeals. The packaging couldn't say it any better: "perfect for the baby, the toddler, and the sensitive high-powered executive."

Don't let the simple premise of a counting book fool you:
Duck and Goose 123, by Tad Hills, is sure to warrant many rereadings. These oil paintings of pondside friends are expressive and sweet, and require more than simply counting items in a row. My favorite spread is "7 berries": Duck, with a simple downward slanting eyebrow, stares down his friends covered in purple splotches, next to a bush with seven berries left on it. Amazing!

Our staffer Miruna is very excited that My Many-Colored Days by Dr. Seuss is now in board book format. With paintings from Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, the art here feels much different from, say, Gerald McBoing McBoing or that Horton we're seeing everywhere, but it definitely has the Seussian appreciation for individuality and light-handed approach to "morals" Dr. Seuss is known for. It's a great and beautiful way to show children that it's OK to have all kinds of moods, and now being in two different formats, can reach an even wider audience.

If you haven't already gotten on board the scanimation train, you are in for a real treat! Rufus Butler Seder, the creator of Gallop!, is back with a second moving image book, Swing!, this time instead of animals, you can see kids bicycling, running, or dribbling a basketball. Kids and adults alike are entranced by this book: some marvel at the deceptively simple design, some just love making the kid run slower, faster, and even backwards. However you look at it, it's an incredible new kind of picture book!

These are just some of the highlights of the baby room, come on in or give us a call to see what else we have for your favorite carpet-crawler!

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