“ Brand: Mothercare / Type: Baby Toy „
Mr Lools and I have decided to be organised in the run up to Christmas and review our twin boys extensive toy collection in order to make room for all of the new toys they are due to receive. There are a vast amount of toys that they have grown out of but with the expected arrival of baby number 3 in April we can't get rid of all of the baby toys just yet. Within the collection of "baby" toys there are some toys that we will be keeping, some that we will not be keeping and others that we will be throwing away but also replacing. One of these toys on the "to be replaced" list is the Mothercare Sunshine Garden My First Ball. ***Mothercare Sunshine Garden My First Ball*** The Mothercare Sunshine Garden My First Ball is a soft colourful fabric ball with a chime inside which sounds lightly when the ball is moved around. The ball is around 20cm in diameter so isn't too large, making it easy for little hands to pick up. Because the ball is made from fabric it is also very light (38g according to the Mothercare website), making it very easy for a young baby to hold and not at all dangerous if a child manages to drop the ball of themselves. The ball is made up of yellow, red, lilac and stripe patches with animal characters on these patches. The ball is bright and colourful so attractive to babies however colours wise is neutral so is suitable for boys or girls. Mothercare state that the Sunshine Garden My First Ball is suitable from birth. The ball is available from Mothercare stores and available from the Mothercare website. The ball costs £6.00 which is averagely priced for a "from birth" type toy. The ball is often part of the Mothercare 20% off toy promotions therefore at £4.80 is excellent value, especially as we purchased two of these balls. ***Our Experience*** The ball was bought for my boys when they were around 3 months old. At this stage they spent most of their awake time in their bouncer seats or on the playmat if they were not being held. Play time mainly involved Mr Lools and I shaking toys at them encouraging them to smile and keep them entertained although they were making attempts to reach out for toys and hold them themselves. Because of the shape of the ball my boys didn't really start to pick up the ball themselves until they reached around 5 months old, the mastered smaller toys first. However when they came to pick up the ball they found it very easy because it was so light. They really seemed attracted to this ball and I feel that was because of the bright coloured patches of fabric but also the bright animal shapes and characters on the ball. Picking up and playing with the ball really did encourage their physical development and I noticed this really helped with their hand to eye coordination. The ball also played a big part in "tummy time" and when placed on their tummies both boys lifted their head to look at the ball and reached out for it. The chime noise inside of the ball was very helpful as when the ball was rolled it sounded. Therefore we could place my boys on their tummy and roll the balls to them which attracted their attention and from about 6 months old they started attempting to pull themselves forward and make the very first attempts at crawling movement. Other toys could be placed in front of them but the advantage of The My First Ball was that it had visual stimulation because of the bright colours but the chime noise also encouraged their sense of hearing. Mothercare state the ball is suitable from birth and I would definitely agree that this is the case. Because the ball is soft and has no loose parts it is safe to give to a baby and I also feel because it is light it is safe to leave a child unattended with. Although I tended to constantly supervise my boys there were occasions when I needed to do a nappy change or wind one of them and leave the other child in their bouncer or on the play mat and couldn't give them my full attention. When leaving my boys on the playmat I was very conscious that certain plastic toys were a little unsafe as my boys tended to pick these up and then drop them on their own head with their uncoordinated movements, which after speaking to a number of other mums at my toddler groups seems to be a very common incident. With the My First Ball because it was so light and soft if was dropped it could not cause injury. These types of soft toys were particularly useful when I used to put my boys in their playpen when I needed to leave the room. What I didn't appreciate was that once my boys got to the 6/7 months stage and could move towards each other any plastic toy stating it was "suitable from birth" could accidentally be hit off the other child with having two children together and cause injury so often I was limited to only soft toys to leave my boys with. The My First Ball was a firm favourite and my boys could be entertained but I could nip out of the room quickly knowing that they were safely contained and not using the toys they were left with as weapons! I do think that this is a very basic and "baby" looking toy. This toy was placed in the baby box because my boys seemed to prefer their light weight footballs which they were bought for their first birthday. The only problem with balls that are more like a football is when they are kicked and thrown indoors they can cause more destruction and my boys have knocked over and broken a few items with "ball play". The Mr First Ball is so light it is very difficult for a child to damage much when playing with this toy. At 22 months my boys have outgrown this toy and after picking up and throwing across the room once they take no interest in it. Although for toddlers this is a very good toy for a child to take with them when visiting relatives/ friends who do not have very child friendly homes as it is difficult to cause much damage with the toy and it is a relatively quiet toy. The ball is reasonably durable and the fabric it is made from has a slightly shiny feel to it which means not too much dirt is attracted to it and you can wipe over light spills and marks with a cloth. Although because the ball is made from fabric it does get dirty quickly especially if it is drooled over like the majority of baby toys are. I did put the My First Ball in the washing machine on a number of occasions which made the ball look like new. I did find after putting the ball in the washing machine although the chime inside still worked it did sound a little quieter than it did before it had been put in the washing machine. The main issue with the ball is that it ends up misshapen. Even prior to being put in the washing machine through regular play involving my boys rolling onto the ball, it being put in a toy box with other heavier toys it ended up less of a sphere shape and more of an oval shape. We have two of these balls and this happened with both of the balls despite many attempts by Mr Lools and I to squash it back into a sphere shape. It has not made the ball totally useless but we have decided that for baby number 3 we will purchase a new ball rather than give them the squashed oval shaped balls! ***Overall*** I would definitely recommend the Mothercare Sunshine Garden My First Ball to new parents to be or those with younger babies. This is a relatively cheap ball toy which stimulates the senses and encourages physical development through the bright visual colours and the inoffensive chime sound the ball makes when it is rolled and moved. The toy is very safe because it is so light and made from fabric meaning it is suitable from birth and is very easy for little hands to grab hold of and play with. The main criticism I have of the Mothercare Sunshine Garden My First Ball is that because it is fabric it picks up dirt quite easily but also ends up very misshapen. However despite both of these balls now being oval shaped we will be purchasing a new one of these toys for baby number 3!