This entry, as most entries, began as a conversation with my (fabulous) volunteer Joyce and I.
I asked her, quite simply, what is a good baby toy. I forgot why I asked. My guess is that it was a branch off the never ending complaints of battery powered toys. (Simply put, toys that have batteries for no reason are annoying. Toys, at one point, weren't electronic and we all grew up just fine.) Or it was probably the confusion of what toy companies call a baby toy and what we like to see babies playing with.
As for the battery portion, I did a tidbit of research. On the Fisher Price website, the toys they suggest for 0-5 months, less than half (19 out of 42) are battery free. And only 40% (55 out of 132) are battery free when you get to the 6-11 months category. Fisher Price is a highly regarded toy company. If I didn't know as much about toys as I do, I would trust what they tell me and what they sell as an infant toy. I am not trying to say that Fisher Price isn't fantastic and innovative in it's own right, but, why does a tea set need batteries?
Toy companies call a lot of toys "infant toys". And not to further harp on Fisher Price, but when you look at the recommendations for 6-11 months, a lot of them were bracketed for 6-36 months. There is a huge difference between the two. Companies try to pass off toys that teach the alphabet and numbers baby toys. Babies don't know those concepts. And this is where I am torn. Some would tell me it is never to early to introduce those concepts. But I see this as more than a introduction, I see it as a premature learning because the toy is talking/teaching you. They will have plenty of schooling when they get to school.
These are the types of toys that we like to see infants play with: Discovery Toys-Infants. They are tactile, cause and effect, color and shape, movement toys and they all make REAL noise, if they make toys at all. No batteries, no talking toys, no inappropriate concepts being taught. They are, and I really don't mean to pun, toys that infants make discoveries with. One other great company is Whoozits! by Manhattan Toy Company. They toys are brightly colored, textured and simple, just the way baby toys should be. This list also isn't bad: Baby Zone. The only electronic toy is the jumparoo. If I owned it, (and take this as advice) I just wouldn't put the batteries in it!