Like all parents, I want to give my child everything she needs to be the best little person she can be. I want her to have the best education and opportunity that I can possibly provide. Somewhere during pregnancy, I started doing my version of extensive research on all sorts of toys that are on the market. I have bought books, I have read Consumer Reports and Amazon product reviews like it is my job, and I have questioned my parenting friends at every turn about the different brands they have invested in.
Something I hadn't thought too much about until lately are active versus passive toys. Nowadays, everything (almost) requires batteries, and then provides a child with musical entertainment, the alphabet, farm animal names, the colors...and all spoken in English, Spanish, and even in French. I think these toys are all great, and work that word-association thing pretty well.
However, electronic toys teach children how to play passively. They push a button, then they wait for something to happen. So yes, they are learning cause and effect, but they aren't actually DOING anything.
So now I try to balance these passive toys with active toys. You will see a lot of classic-style toy lines offering this type of play. Melissa & Doug and Plan Toys have a lot of beautiful wood items that are colorful and interactive, so I always check these brands out when I am looking for something new.
On a personal level, I find it interesting to see what is floating to the top as one of Bugga's favorites. We bought her the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table (requires batteries). This thing is amazing! It has over 50 different songs, English and Spanish, a laptop, a phone, a piano, and a book. My daughter quickly became more comfortable with pulling to a stand soon after we got her this. But most surprisingly, her favorite part of it is the purple phone rattle that comes with this table. This phone now goes everywhere with us - perfect travel size!