Looking for an early-stages toy with a quirky twist? Well, at first glance the Infantino Twist and Move Puppy is a sensory-stimulating dachshund that scuttles along and makes a singing or yapping noise… Enough to keep your toddler amused, yes.
But download the app and you can add a new dimension to the game by controlling the adorable pooch from your smartphone, thus perplexing your child (and most likely also the family dog too!)
Suitable from 9 months.
We were first introduced to these amazing, huggable mini-mes at Bubble London and we can’t stop talking about them in our office – especially the boy dolls, which are the best we’ve seen.
Choose from a whole spectrum of hair, skin and eye colour to find something that resonates with your child (my son adores the Chiku bambini pictured right as he says he looks like his friend Jayden at school…)
And how fab is the boy-baby basket to tuck him up in at bedtime?
Shop the collection online here.
The ‘Doodle’ pup is from Baby Born’s Pony Farm range by Zapf Creation.
“My three year old daughter has wanted a real dog since she could say the word ‘doggie’ and was therefore delighted to test this puppy toy. I was pleasantly surprised as the bark it makes isn’t too loud or yappy and the way it lifts its leg to ‘pee’ had us all in giggles… You can feed it water from a bottle or give it a bone (so good nurturing skills to learn if she ever wears me down to getting a real puppy) and Doodle interacts with both. This toy is presumably aimed at girls but a quick switch of the pink tartan collar and it could keep boys entertained too… It doesn’t seem too battery intensive (I must confess, I took the batteries out of another more annoying toy to put into this one) – I haven’t had to replace them yet – and you can seemingly wipe the fur clean with a damp cloth if you need to. All in all an engaging toy (and better than a real pup, for the moment!)”
(Tested by Alice and Ciara)
This trainset made by Hape is the sort of toy that every child will see differently; there’s lots of potential for imaginative play. It is pitched at 18months upwards but it is solid enough to entertain a newly crawling baby (the green ‘jungle’ bit makes a nice scrunchy noise to engage them) and older children will possibly see it as ‘another world you could visit by train’ or wonder where the lion and elephant are going on a trip…
Click for more info or to buy: Hape Jungle Train Journey Set
Billed as ‘the fun of Christmas in one box’ this game has the whole yule experience in one box: presents, crackers, sprouts and singing.
In theory you can play with up to 20 people. but the rules are quite extensive so we’d suggest this works better with older children, teenagers and competitive Dads.
Buy it on Amazon…
If you’re sweltering in the Indian Summer heat; whether (like some of our writers) battling swollen pregnancy ankles or just trying to cool those nerves the school holidays have frayed – if you have the garden space we highly recommend the guilty pleasure solution of dunking your feet in the kids’ paddling pool…(*sipping a g&t is an optional perk)
Anyway – we’ve spotted a couple of great deals we thought we’d share…
Bestway’s Steel Frame pool measures 259 x 170 x 61 cm (L x W x H) and can be delivered to your home in 3 days. A bargain at just £64.99 from new online garden/DIY retailer manomano.co.uk.
Or how about this circular blow
up pool – a whopping 10ft diameter – at just £20.99 from Aldi. Worth investing in a pump to inflate this, so you’ve got enough puff left for some underwater laps…
Got a teen who loves Hunger Games? Or a would-be Robin of Sherwood? Enter our Fab Friday Competition and be in with a chance to #Win one of the super fast Air Storm Z-Tek bows with 125 foot range and 4 sets of Air Storm Firetek rockets. Get the kids ready for an all-new archery experience with whistling arrows and light up rockets.
We have one Air Storm Z-Tek bow and four Firetek rockets available to win from Zing Toys.
Air Storm Z-Tek Bow
Get the next big thing in bow technology with the Z-Tek Bow. Check out the sleek new design and shape. Shorter bungees for faster firing. Arrow clips right on the bow for quick reloads and a powerful presence. It’s an all new archery experience with the Z-Tek Bow. Hook in the Zartz™ Arrow or Zonic™ Whistling Arrow, position the shot, and watch it fly through the air for an incredible 100 feet. Includes a Z-Tek Bow, two Zonic™ Whistling Arrows and one Suction-Cup Zartz™ Arrow.
(Please note the Air Storm Z-Tek bow comes in two colours – green and orange – winners can’t choose colours of prizes.)
Price: £19.99rrp Age: 8+
The Firetek Rocket is launching into orbit as the newest addition to Zing’s Firetek line with lights and sounds, ready for outdoor day or night fun! Turn the light switch on the rocket to power up the action, Then, attach the Firetek light-up rocket to the launcher, pull the tab, and let it soar into the sky! Hear the whistle-screaming arrows in action as the rocket flies up to 250 feet high with just a simple flick of the wrist. The Firetek rockets are set to fly to incredible heights with long-lasting performance. Each set comes with two whistle-screaming light-up rockets and one launcher.
Price: £9.99rrp Age: 5+
To enter simply RT out competition text and follow @zing_toys
Main prize and runner up winners will be announced on 17th June, no cash alternative.
The What’s so Special Club, is a brand new, FREE online club for young dinosaur fans and budding palaeontologists everywhere.
Membership of the Club gives children access to fun dinosaur games and factoids, each designed to help children and parents expand their dinosaur knowledge. With colouring sheets to download, dinosaur brain teasers and quizzes – there’s loads of fun to be had.
A personalised email is sent to each new member and fresh colouring sheets, quizzes and facts are added every week and sent to you to download. You will also be kept up to date with the latest dinosaur news as it happens.
The What’s so Special Club has been created by dinosaur expert Nicky Dee and supports the ‘What’s so Special About?’ series of dinosaur books for children.
Membership of the Club is free. To join, simply go on to www.specialdinosaurs.com and click on the link. You’ll receive a welcome email and your child could be colouring-in one of the dinosaurs from the ‘What’s so Special About?’ books today.
Twice in as many weeks now, we have seen a stroller that has made SM’s resident Dad-writers squeal like schoolgirls. The first was the superlight, sporty Koochi Pushmatic, but the new Longboard Stroller from Quinny is an absolute gamechanger.
The Longboard Stroller is – yes really!- a long skateboard deck attached to a sort of reinforced version of Quinny’s lightweight Zapp frame, complete with safety bars. And it folds down to be carried like a longboard.
The idea is that that a relatively competent skater can whizz through the city with their child, not only shaving tens of minutes off the run to stay-and-play but also rolling like an urban hipster at the same time.
Not only is the Quinny Longboard super cool, it can also be customised with a choice of deck colours and it actually brakes like a bike does – rather than the more traditional longboard braking method (ie falling off!)
At just £440 this one is the latest man-toy he never knew he wanted until now… Order online from Quinny.
Editor’s tip: if you get one of these strollers you’ve gotta get your little one a pair of junior Converse… We love these double tongue Chucks, from Office nationwide.
If – like many of us – your heart sinks when your little one says ‘,I want a Princess and Pony party’ or ‘Mine HAS to be better than Suzie’s was’ then rest assured, help is at hand, courtesy of a few of our tips and some lovely brands…
- Think about the mix of kids: ultimately, what your child wants for their party comes first, but if you perhaps have lots of older children coming also maybe give them an alternative options.
SM tip: My youngest wanted to have a Foxy party, like the fox on ‘Charlie and Lola’ but we ended up making it a Gruffalo Party (and she was the fox) so that there was more scope for games and dressing up. Debenham’s have a range of Gruffalo costumes.
- Get creative with food: Julia Dowling of Snapdragon recommends ‘ ,Get imaginative with the party food you choose. For example, treat your budding astronauts and space rangers to ‘edible moon rocks’ (rice crispy cakes), ‘comet tails’ (candy floss), ‘flying saucers’ (imaginatively-filled mini-bagels) and, of course, that old favourite – NASA freeze-dried ice-cream (£5.99, Firebox)’
SM tip: ‘there will always be one kid who isn’t allowed any kind of fun party food. I love this recipe for Paleo Chocolate Mousse, from The Healthy Foodie and my tip would be to serve it in individual muffin cases or ramekins with organic wriggly worms poking out…‘
- Got more than one child? Think about party decor that keeps on giving. A set of Pirate partyware (like this one from Party Pickles) can be recycled into a spooky Halloween theme, or use the spotty bunting to make Circus decor. And well made party items are great to jazz up your child’s bedroom afterwards as a reminder of their wonderful day…
- Need to make banners? Take the stress out of letter cutting with these ready made kits from A Lovely Little Company… Available in black also.
- Attempting face-painting? Snazaroo have some great beginner guides on their website and their range of face paints includes glitter and super simple to use crayon sticks.
- And finally, don’t forget about the grown ups. A few rounds of adult canapes or a simple cheese board will be wholly appreciated amongst the sweets and veggie sticks …
SM tip: ‘We always offer our adult guests a glass or two of bubbly at kids’ parties if they’re not driving. If you want to match the bubbles with the theme, check out these super cool metallic prosecco bottles, available to order from Liquid Gold drinks.’