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Product Type: Toys

 


2006 Award
Peek Rattle and Teethe
(Infantino $13.75 Score:)

Four easy-to-grasp hollow fabric blocks, each has a teether attached and interesting textures and patterns to explore. Best of all, one side of each block has a soft see-through vinyl "window" so baby can see and hear the bright plastic rings that are locked inside. Stack them, roll them, toss or taste them, these are a good choice for sitting-up babies.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Award
Bucket Buddies
(Infantino $20 Score:) Three fabric buckets with happy stitched faces and crinkle ears can nest or stack. There are squeakers, rattles, and jingle sounds along with three crinkly soft play pieces to put in and take out of the buckets. Beautifully crafted in colorful patterned fabrics, a good toy for parent–child games of “knock it down” or “hide and find.” .PLATINUM AWARD ’06. New for 2007, Hula Hut ($17.99 4 ) with a green roof is really much like a fabric block with an opening in the middle for an assortment of sea-inspired rattles to explore together. The new Baby Mail ($24.99 3 ) is a fabric mailbox and is chock-full of important “mail” including a postcard, a gift, and a cupcake. Unfortunately, the postcard has water/gel in it that we don’t care for. (800) 840-4916.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Earlyears Click & Play Triangles
(International Playthings $6.99 Score:) Ideal for two-handed play, these three-hinged triangles click as they are opened and closed. A central triangle has a small mirror and the textured triangles are fine for teething. Also new for , Busy Bead Rattle ($9.99 ); this hourglass-shaped toy has beads that drop from one cone to another. The cones turn with a quiet click and the colorful central ring has beads that turn. (800) 445-8347. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Let's Play Puppets
(Gund $12.99 Score:) Choose a blue elephant, Tootie, lavender hippo, Tibs, or mint green frog, Pippy, for early tracking games and heart-to-heart talks. These soft hand puppets come with a baby puppet so parent and child can sing and talk together. These are fun to share with an older sibling as you play with baby together. Also a good take-along toy for distractions on small trips. (800) 448-4863.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Razzy Rattles
(Mary Meyer $4.5 Score:) Choose a very quiet floppy little red pig, green turtle, blue elephant, or yellow lion in washable terry with gingham trim and stitched features. Also, See Me? Rattles ($4.50 ) are all-fabric, easy-to-hold shakers with happy faces and a quiet jingle. A nice toy for older sibs to use with baby. A “mirror” on the back of the rattle face is distorted, but not to worry, baby is going to be attracted to the patterns and stitched face and big brother’s antics. (800) 451-4387.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Taf Toys Smart Mat
(Edushape $59.95 Score:) Our family with triplets raved about this amazing oversized playmat (39" x 59"). “There’s enough room for all our girls.” Another family wrote: “it was perfect for our den that has bare floors. It’s very cushy and I find it attractive to have out in the room.” It has bright graphics and interesting textures and sounds. Comes with several attached toys as well as three separate toys that have interesting textures to explore. This is an unusually attractive and versatile mat that will get miles of use until baby takes off as a crawler. (800) 404-4744.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Gymini Total Playground Kick & Play
(Tiny Love $69 Score:) Sadly, this product has been discontinued.

This company continues to be the leader in activity mats for young babies. We’d put this mat on the “must have” list for the baby shower. The new feature this year is a kick-and-play area that babies can activate with their feet or bat at from their tummies as they get older. The key difference between this mat and so many others we tested is that the lights and music are soothing and not over-the-top loud or jarring. Comes with a mirror that babies will enjoy. Like the original, this has two arches and dangly toys for gazing at and batting. We also recommend the less expensive version without the lights and music. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. (800) 843-6292.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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Flutterbye Dreams
(Fisher-Price $24.95 Score:) The concept of this toy is well intentioned: the tweet-tweet of birdies—think the opening of a Bugs Bunny nature scene and you get the picture. Our problem is that the tweet-tweet is very high pitched, making us wince instead of relax. So we’d pass on this one. The Ocean Wonders () mobile has three fish that spin around (not particularly eye-catching), but we didn’t like the gel-like “fishbowl” intended for baby to push on. There’s a disconnect with the packaging since no mobile should be left in a crib when a baby is sitting up. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Infants. Award Year: .

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2006 Award
Changing Table Flutter Bug Musical Mobile
(Infantino $23 Score:)

Cleverly designed, this "bug" has four patterned wings with colorful ribbons that flutter as they turn to the music. It's a windup music box with old-fashioned sound, rather than the usual electronic type. This attaches to the changing table for three minutes' worth of diversion. This toy has been discontinued.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Candy Land DVD Game
(Milton Bradley $29.99 Score:) Put the play mats on the floor and plug this into your DVD player and kids are ready for an active but not too fast moving game that gets them up off the couch. Players move from one of 24 color play mats to another collecting tokens. This type of game is ideal for developing listening skills and color concepts in a playful manner. A grown up will need to supervise. 2-4 players.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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