There comes a point in every parent’s life when their newborn baby turns into an active and restless toddler – boldly adventurous and seemingly fearless.
This is the point when you might start looking for more dynamic and educational toys; because toddlers love a moving challenge!
Enter the VTech kids toys range.
According to its website, VTech positions itself as “a world leader of age-appropriate learning products”, and this has been my experience with a small selection of VTech toys for children under 2 years of age:
COLOUR AND SOUND
VTech toys are the attention-seeking high-energy toy in the room that can’t be ignored! They really do strive to engage your child through maximum visual and audio sensory stimulation.
They’re bright and they’re bold, tapping into the well-known fact that young children are attracted to bright colours. They’re also LOUD – singing, talking and making realistic machine sounds.
The downside to all this high energy noise can be discovered when you try to walk into your baby’s room at night and you accidentally kick one of these toys! And while there is an ‘on’ and ‘off’ switch for the sound, there is no volume control for when the toys are switched ‘on’. Volume control would be a great addition to the range!
Another minor issue I have with the recorded sayings it that on some of these toys for example, the fire engine toy says “Dial 999 for the fire engine”, now I live in Australia and dialing 999 will get you nowhere so I’m just hoping my son hasn’t memorised that one!
FEATURES AND STABILITY
VTech toys are larger scale toys with chunky over sized parts making them easy to hold and use by little children. One of the main features of these toys is the inclusion of different types of buttons including levers and turn buttons that really help children to develop their fine motor skills.
I’ve also found that these different types of buttons give the toys a bit more longevity in the toy cupboard because it takes a while for a baby to develop the range of motor skills needed to make all of these buttons work.
My 15 month old son for example, still likes playing with his VTech Pop Up Friends Train and even though he has mastered how to push the button to see the dog and press the lever to make the cat pop up, he is still learning how to the turn the final button to see the birdie. I’m hopeful that one day he will see the birdie!
FUNCTION AND MATERIAL
I have two toys in the pull along range of VTech toys and I’ve found them to be of limited interest to my son. While he loves the buttons on them, the pulling rope is too short to use when walking so it is only really useful while sitting down. To be fair, this is most likely because it prevents the toy from becoming a choking hazard.
The VTech toys are made from a durable light weight plastic that can be wiped down easily if they get food or drink on them. Great!
The light weight nature of the toys has, however, proved to be a bit of an issue with the VTech Play and Activity Table which can be easily pushed and flipped over despite its four-legged design. It just doesn’t seem to be able to take the weight of a child trying to stand up. I am curious to see if the other VTech activity tables have the same stability issues, but for now, it’s just lucky that we have carpet for a soft landing when it slips away from our toddler!
The legs on the activity table and the handle height of the VTech First Baby Steps Walker are also fixed which may not suit all children. And yes, it would be difficult to cater for everyone’s height, but I have used activity toys that allow for height adjustment so this feature is not impossible to improve.
I consider the VTech toys range to be priced at the higher end of the scale. For example, the larger Play & Learn Activity Table was around $50 AUSD and the smaller toys like the Pop Up Friends train was around $30 AUSD.
The smaller the toy the cheaper it is of course but the cost of a VTech toy is generally higher in comparison to other similar electronic products from more general retailers (i.e. Kmart). Granted, I have not yet tested similar cheaper versions of these toys made by the general retailers so the price difference may or may not be justified (TBC!).
The VTech toys range is big, so whether it is worth spending the extra money on this range of toys is really best assessed on a case-by-case toy basis.
But overall, the varied design features (i.e. push levers, press and turn buttons) make them really interesting and challenging toys for children under 2 years of age. So they do seem to last a long time in the toy cupboard as far as interest-value goes.
In my opinion, there are a couple of issues with the large activity toys regarding their stability and dimension, so as a general guide to purchasing these toys:
- If you get a chance to pick up and feel the weight of the larger activity toys – do so. Could your child easily flip it over?
- If you get a chance to listen to the toys in store – do so. Do you like the song being played? You will be hearing it a lot!
- And if you receive a VTech toy as a gift – enjoy it. It wasn’t cheap and your child will learn some new skills from it.
VTech toys may even outlast the other toys in your cupboard!
AT A GLANCE: The real world issues
|Is it easy to use?||Yes. The toys have an on and off switch with little to no construction needed.|
|The biggest pro?||The variety of design features (i.e. turn buttons and push levers) that go beyond simple visual-audio stimulation for your child.|
|The biggest con?||There are no volume controls to quieten the toys when turned on and they are sensitive enough to turn on when bumped.|
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