[This is a continuation of the previous post. It was one of the points but got too long. Don’t really feel like rewriting it so forgive the sparse language]

Newborns don’t really need toys. In fact, there is a SIDS risk if you put toys into their crib when they are very little.

At some point they might enjoy a mobile. Luckily someone gifted us quite a fancy Fisherprice one. However, I think just a regular one (which is not mechanised) will do just as well, if at all. I’m not sure if I would have bothered buying a mobile is noone had gifted us one. We didn’t get that much use out of the one we have.

Sis-in-law also passed on a baby play mat with mobile thing which has changed hands some 10 times at last count. Both babies barely used it.

I read somewhere that babies initially like black and white contrast (seems true because both my babies have been fascinated by a painting we have that is of that colour tone, so much so that I figured I had budding artists on my hand) and then bright colours like red. So I used a ring of read plastic kitchen measuring spoons to amuse Mimi sometimes since I was to cheap to buy a rattle. Then I felt guilty and bought a rattle. She is not amused by the rattle. Heh. Lesson learnt.

V’s colleagues sent us a basket of very very cute soft toys. Benji has mostly ignored them. But they come in handy to gift to other unsuspecting new parents. Don’t judge me – they are cute. Only pointless. The most useful thing in that expensive basket was the basket itself. It is currently being used to store Benji’s toys.

Which are very few in number. We are kanjoos parents. And we realised that most toys are just unused. Benji’s favourite and most-used toy is the colourful box in which the toy piano we bought him came. It is now coming apart but we are loathe to part with it.

I let Benji play with anything around the house including:

  1. Books on my bookshelf. The really precious ones are kept at the back.
  2. Breakable stuff from my showcase (under supervision). His most recent favourite is a teapot from my collection. He has also broken a glass key holder from Italy to V’s ire(which I have promptly stuck together again).
  3. My wallet.
  4. Random stuff in drawers. Such as measuring tape, stethoscope (bought by V to listen to baby’s heartbeat if you please), torches, batteries, pens, coasters the list is endless. My make-up and jewellery drawer is his haunt of choice. Also bathroom cabinets (some are now off limits due to poisonous chemicals).
  5. V’s tool box. This includes such dangerous pointy things as screwdrivers. I just move the things I don’t want him to touch like Superglue away. Yesterday, he took a screwdriver and went to the an area he had seen V fixing an imitated him. It was super cute.
I am also a big fan of playing outdoors and this includes getting hands dirty by picking up leaves from ground, and occasionally mud. Very shocking to the Chinese parents. I also let him touch dirty things like the wheels of some other kid’s bike. What to do, he loves wheels. And one can always wash his hands after. Though sometimes I forget to.

We are also fortunate to have an awesome playroom which had a baby play area with various toys. This meant that even if I wanted to buy a toy, if it overlapped with the playroom toys I would rule it out. That actually left very few toys.

The problem is also that many of the toys I see in toy shops while theoretically cute, are not that cute on closer examination. Or there are too many similar ones and I can’t choose one when I actually resolve to buy a toy. Thus, it is easier if someone just gifts us a toy.

Among the bought toys that Benji likes are cars. His first word was Car followed by Ba for Bus. Anything with wheels is favoured.

Earlier on, Benji also loved a channapatna toy gifted to him by dear old friend from building in Bombay (if you are reading this, thank you!). It was meant to be hung above his crib I think but I just let him chew on it. I read on the packet that vegetable dye was used so I assumed chewing should be ok. Also, I have a soft spot for wooden toys. Dear Indian friends, please gift me my children channapatna toys. Thankie!

One thing I would do differently if I wasn’t so lazy/pregnant is monitor more closely what Benji put in his mouth because there might be dangerous metal content there. I have let him bite my iphone for example. Please note, iphones are very sturdy and survive being drippled on, dropped on floor by toddler etc.

Which brings me to iphones/ipad. We are also not of the no-screen time variety of parents. Ideally, I would like to be. But again, I am too lazy. Plus, my husband is a TV addict. And if the TV is not on, he will start irritating me. So to keep him (i.e. my husband) distracted, TV must be on. Mostly, Benji is not interested in it.

However, he is interested in our phones. At some point, I think during sister and niece’s visit, he discovered the joys of YouTube – again, we are too cheap to actually pay for this kind of entertainment. So only free videos please. He has come to the stage where the only use he has of us is to get us to play these videos called Mother Goose for him (if you try it on your child, be warned they might get addicted and you will lose control of your own phone forever). It was briefly Elmo but now the Red One has been relegated to obscurity. We are trying to wean him off his addiction by hiding the ipad/iphone and/or ignoring him when he throws a mini-tantrum for it.

Hope to do better with Mimi with regard to iPad usage and objects that get put in mouth. Poor Benji, he was our guinea pig.

May I also add that I am aware of choking hazards. But someone is always watching the kids when they are playing. So they might as well just watch them a little more closely and be done with it instead of fanatically buying only toy toys and filling the coffers of toy shops, worthy cause though that is.

And on the topic of safety, I have not baby proofed our home. All corners exist resplendent in their cornersomeness. Our white cabinets and cream remain undaunted, just a little worse for the wear. Again, we have to watch our babies. So we do that. Once Benji fell and hit his eyelid on the leg of our table. He bled and now has a scar that will charm the ladies when he is older. That part could not have been baby-proofed and was as dangerous. Case in point, you cannot baby proof everything. The one thing I would suggest is maybe cover sockets – though we haven’t yet but HK is quite safe that way – and since we live on the 21st floor, we have now put grills on our windows and a safety gate to our balcony. That is all.