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Thoughts, experiences, and helpful tips on baby gear.
Stride Rite SRT Shoes

Shortly after Baby Bel started walking, I noticed that she seemed to be walking weird in these cheap shoes that I had bought her. Her walk seemed labored and she tripped easily whenever she wore them. Barefoot, she was fine.

I had heard a lot about Stride Rite SRT shoes from some mommy friends and decided to try some out. As soon as we tried on some velcro tennies on her, she took off practically running in them. She seemed really happy and could get around easily in them. Big difference! So we were sold.

Since then, we bought a couple more pairs, as her feet grew bigger. We absolutely love them and would recommend the Stride Rite SRT series shoes for any young toddler who recently started walking or learning to run. The SRT shoes are supposed have great support for bone and muscle development, help them keep their balance, are comfortable, light-weight, and there are many cute styles. Another advantage with these shoes is that they come in half sizes and wides, which we've needed for Baby Bel's chubby little feet.

Normally, I'm not a big fan of buying expensive baby items because they outgrow them so quickly. But with Baby Bel being a new toddler who is just learning to run around and explore, it has made a huge difference in her comfort, her confidence on her feet, and her ability to run and play, without some flimsy shoes flopping off.

Little People Sweet Sounds Home

Baby Bel got this Little People Sweet Sounds Home for her first birthday. But she didn't really get interested in it until she became about 17 months old. Now she's starting to get into the role playing of the mom, dad, and baby. I had to teach her and show her how to have them use the various rooms in the house, the computer, the bathroom, the chairs, etc. But she is getting the hang of it.

She loves the sound effects that the house has. The baby crib has a baby sound and a lullaby, there is a phone/fax with sound effects, and then there are some kittens that meow. I'm sure as she gets older, she will enjoy this house even more.

My Pal Violet by Leapfrog

This is one of the most adorable toys you'll ever see in the store. It's bright-colored, has a cute voice, sings songs, talks, laughs, and is a puppy dog! How can you resist My Pal Violet, or My Pal Scout, for a boy? Turns out that no one can. This toy has crossed our hands 4 times so far. Lil Bel absolutely loves it, and would have loved to have 4 of them, but we had to pass them on to 3 better homes.

How did we end up with four of them? The story goes like this. Last Christmas, I saw it at the store and fell in love with it. After having bought enough Christmas presents for Lil Bel, I decided to buy it for her little best friend. When I brought it home, Daddy liked it so much that he wanted to keep it for Lil Bel. So we did.

Did I mention it's programmable? You can hook it up to your computer via the included USB cable and pick out cute songs from their web site, download your baby's name, favorite food, color, and animal. It was this computer gadget quality that got Daddy's attention.

I went back to the store to buy it again for our little friend. But alas, they were sold out. Of course, for such a great toy :-)
A few months after Christmas passed, I saw it again and bought it for Bel's friend as a "just because" gift. Hubby also programmed our friend's name and favorites. That's how the second one crossed our hands.

Long story short, the 3rd and 4th ones were gifts from other people who instantly fell in love with the toy at the store, too. Needless to say, every little girl would probably love to have one of these. Everyone seems to know that, or at least us, our friends, and Lil Bel.

It wasn't until she was about 11 months that she learned how to press the paws by herself. Before that, we pressed them for her. Each four paws makes sound. One has upbeat songs, one has little conversations, one has bedtime lullabies, and one barks. Lil Bel's favorite is the upbeat songs, which has her name, favorite food, animal, and color incorporated into some of the songs. But she presses the paw multiple times until her favorite song comes on: "If You're Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands". If your child has a favorite song, chances are it is in the list of downloadable songs.

For all the cuteness that it is, and all that it does (programmable personalization), it is a great deal at $15-20. Most musical toys at that price don't let you upload your baby's name and favorites. So if your little girl doesn't have one, or if you are sure your friend or niece doesn't have one :-), then I would definitely recommend My Pal Violet, or My Pal Scout for a boy.

Little Tikes Baby Tap a Tune Piano

I think we got the Little Tikes Baby Tap a Tune Piano when Bel was around 6 months old. While we were in the store, I tested her to see if she would play with it. She did play pretty little tunes the whole time we were there. But when we got home, this toy got old fast. She only banged on it a few times and then moved on to something else. I tried to play it to get her interested in it, but to no avail.

Personally, I love this little toy. It has four keys that play a nice little chord. So it sounds good no matter what combination you play them. But maybe it was a little boring for her...

The funny thing is that I've taken this toy to play groups, and other babies seem to like it, and even fight over it. I don't know if they would get bored of it quickly if they had it at home, too. But they seemed more interested in it than Bel does.

LeapFrog Learn & Groove Counting Maracas
As one of the gifts for her 1st birthday, we bought the LeapFrog Learn & Groove Counting Maracas. She absolutely loves shaking them. She loves the music that plays from one of the maracas. But you have to shake it pretty hard in order for the counting or sound effects to go off. You almost have to hit it against something. We don't like that aspect of it because we feel like it's teaching her to throw or strike the maraca against something. The other maraca is just like a regular maraca. It's not electronic, you just shake it and the beads inside rattle.


Featured Baby Gear Articles

Brightlings Exploration Station  - 9/6/2010
Little Tikes Baby Tap a Tune Piano  - 11/10/2010
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Learning Kitchen  - 9/24/2010
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes  - 11/10/2010
Weebles Tree House Playset  - 4/5/2011

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