When I tell you our kids don't have many electronic toys, please understand that it's not because I'm a total hippie or because I think technology is singlehandedly rotting away the brains of our youth. The real reason is because electronic toys--basically anything that lights up and/or makes "music" and/or talks in a perpetually chipper cartoon voice--usually makes me want to throw it out the window. So annoying.
Here's the problem, though: Babies love that stuff. They love slamming their little hamfists around and making lights and sounds go on and off as if by magic, and oh, it's so cute I almost want to buy them all the electronic toys in the world. Except not, because ANNOYING. And yet although I'm not the type of mom who gives in to my children's every desires (for instance, the baby would like to tongue kiss the power outlet, but I'm not about to let him), I do concede that sometimes a compromise is in order. Also, grandparents have a way of thwarting these types of rules.
Thank goodness we found three electronic toys the kids like and that we adults don't actively despise, starting with one of my must-have pieces of baby gear:
1. The ExerSaucer.
We use and love it so much that a new vocabulary has grown up around it: "Where's the baby?" "He's saucing." "Where do you want me to put the baby?" "Throw him in the sauce!" These little activity centers are a great way to contain your baby in a small space while letting him practice both his gross and fine motor skills. Here's the key to getting a good one: When you're picking it out, don't just consider how it looks or how cool the accessories are, consider how it sounds. (The one we have, pictured above, is five years old and no longer available, but Evenflo has a comparable model that comes with a playmat for younger babies and opens up into an activity table for older babies. Genius.)
2. Mozart Magic Cube.
I like this toy an awful lot. I'm not saying I like it so much I play with it when my kids aren't around, except...okay, yes, fine, I play with it when my kids aren't around. It's just so cool. The toy plays a handful of Mozart excerpts, and each side of the cube features a different instrument, each of which lights up in rhythm with its part of the song. By pressing each side, you--er, I mean your baby can turn the instrument sound and light on and off to change the overall composition of the song. So smart. And a total steal at $16.
3. Flash Beat Drum.
This toy has four different settings--elecrtronic drum beats, goofy sound effects, a series of songs, and bell-like chimes that play when you roll the drum on its side--and when we got it as a hand-me-down I cringed because GAH, DRUMS. As it turns out, the feature that makes this tolerable for me is that the songs aren't your typical overplayed nursery rhyme tunes but pieces with a little more interest and "flavor." (There are several demos on YouTube if you want to see it in action.) Also, it's really cute when your baby gets big enough that he wants to pretend he's people and use the drum as a stool. Adorable.
One final tip about electronic toys: Make sure you turn them off before you go to bed, as they have a tendency to "wake up" in the middle of the night and scare the bejeezus out of you.
Does your baby have any electronic toys that you actually like? Will you confess to playing with any of them when your kids aren't around?
All images from Amazon.com.