When I was working in the baby room at the Early Years Centre we were big on letting babies explore real things. I'm still confused why we buy our kids plastic Fischer Price kitchen sets when you can easily just give the kid a real pot and whisk from Value Village. Maybe it's just me? Anyway we (like most parents I'm sure) have a lot of "baby toys" around here, it's unavoidable. But there's something really neat about giving Iris real things to explore.
Last week we went to the pumpkin patch and they had a sweet deal on mini pumpkins and gourds, something like 10 for $2. So we grabbed a whole bunch! When we got home we picked out a few for Iris and using some pliers removed the stems on top, which can poke an eye out (!). Then using some sandpaper, Dave just sanded the stump a bit so there were no sharp edges left. After a quick wash to get rid of the mud, they were good to go!
These mini pumpkins and gourds are great because they are super dense and are pretty impossible to chomp a bite off, even with little teeth coming in (at least that's what we've found). They also last a looong time so you don't have to worry about them starting to rot for at least a week or two.
Iris was totally into these! She happily sat on the floor exploring them for a good half hour. When she was done, I just threw them into her little toy basket for another time.