Doll Safety and The Choke Test Tube

WARNING! Choking hazard: May contain small parts, not for children under 3 years.

You’ve seen this a million times, so often in fact, that you probably don’t even notice it anymore. And that’s too bad, because it’s there to protect your child or grandchild.

Hopefully I’m going to shake up your perceptions a little bit, and bring choking hazards back to the forefront of your brain where they belong.

Picture of Choke Testing Tube

A real choke testing tube, and the home made version

On the left, a choke testing tube. The opening is about the same size as a three year old’s mouth, and that slanted piece inside of the tube is where a child’s throat would be. The CPSC (The US Consumer Product Safety Commission) requires that anything that can be dropped into these tubes and block that slanted bottom be labeled a choking hazard.

You have a bunch of these choke tubes lying around the house right?

But what you do have, and works just as well for our purposes, is the cardboard tube inside the toilet paper roll. So the next time you empty that roll, take that tube around the house as a safety measure. What do you have that (A) fits inside that tube and (B) might be attractive to the little ones?  [ Doll Collecting Grannies take note! This means you too!]

The life you save may be your child’s.

PS: The most dangerous toys are small balls and deflated or broken balloons. Doll hazards include buttons, removable socks and shoes and ribbons and strings over 12 inches. But please also make sure that your older children’s dolls are out of the reach of toddlers. Of special note, remember that 18″ dolls like the American Girls®  are often recommended for children 8 years and older, but they are often shared with their younger siblings. Finally we’ll ask you to regularly inspect all of your children’s dolls for broken or loose parts.

PPS: And please, don’t be that Mommy or Grandmommy who thinks that their kids are so advanced that you can give them a doll meant for older children. There’s a reason that we put the age recommendations on every doll we sell. Disregard them at your own risk.

My Learn to Dress Doll Pet Peeve

Toddlers Don't Tie Anymore!

Toddlers Don’t Tie Anymore!

We’ve sold a lot of Learn to Dress Dolls over the years, they’re a really popular kind of doll. We’ve got learn to dress teddy bears (Pirates and Princesses), Learn to dress boys and learn to dress girls, learn to dress kittens and learn to dress monkeys; dozens of different styles.

But one day while I was writing the web content for a new one, I noticed that once again,one of the skills to master on the new activity toy was ‘tying.’ It’s one of my little pet peeves.

Why do the manufacturers still make learn to dress dolls with laces?                       Because they were always made that way!

Excuse me, but have you seen what children wear on their feet these days? Particularly the age group that these toys are meant for? Velcro®! Not laces!

Now I agree that children eventually need to know how to tie a bow, and sometime after that  how to tie a knot, but the age group that learn to dress toys are made for, don’t tie their shoes – or anything else for that  matter. And by the time they do get to the stage of tying stuff, they are too old to be playing with these toddler’s dolls.

It’s a small thing I agree, and doesn’t harm anyone, but still… I think it’s time for the doll makers to learn from the shoemakers. Because Velcro is easier for toddlers, that’s how their shoes are made. Toddlers don’t tie anymore.

How to use a Potty Training Doll


The Aquini Potty training doll by Gotz

The Aquini Potty training doll by Gotz

Potty Training Dolls work. But I’ll tell you a secret. Almost any doll will work  – it’s the method, not the doll.

But potty training dolls work better. So there is that.

Bet you want to know how, right?

(We’re assuming you’re needing to train a child. If not, let’s just assume that you’ll need to train a child sometime, okay? Otherwise, unless you have some kind of potty obsession yourself, why are you reading about Potty Training dolls? Do you really think it’s that interesting?)

OK, Here’s how potty training with a doll works:

First, you and your child are going to teach the doll to go potty. This is where a Potty training doll can be better… especially if it’s a drink and wet doll – meaning a hole in the mouth and hole you-know-where. And double-especially if the doll has the holes AND it’s own potty!

At any rate back to the narrative.

You and your child take the doll to its potty. You take off its diaper or lower its pants. You sit it down. You and your child talk about ‘what is the doll doing?’ ‘Is it going potty?’ ‘What does this mean going potty?’ Maybe you squirt a little lemonade under the doll for #1. Or place a few chocolate chips in the doll’s potty for #2.

Now you and your child need to come to an agreement. ‘Has the doll gone potty?’ ‘How do we know?’ Do this five or ten times. We’re teaching the doll to go potty!

Now here’s the critical step. After the fifth or tenth time, it’s time to celebrate! Yay! The doll has learned to go potty! Let’s give the doll a little ice cream, or maybe a half a cookie. Something that your child would like to have also! Yay! Lets party. A Potty Party! Make it a big deal.

Oh!?! You want a potty party too? Well of course! Just go potty like the doll did! When you’ve gone five or six times, we’ll give you a potty party too!But yours will be better! Maybe some balloons… or hats… or both! Make it a really big deal! Going potty is great!

Works like a charm.

PS: Most kids start at around two. Some before, some after. They’ll let you know. Don’t push  it.                                                                                                                             PPS: In the event of relapse just repeat the process. No potty party ’til you’ve successfully gone potty five to ten times again. You get it right, we’ll celebrate!

Why Baby likes Teddy Bears

Have you ever noticed? (1)

You go to the local supermarket with your baby and put her on that funny little shelf of the shopping cart right behind the handle. And you hope to God that she doesn’t fuss, fidget or start crying before you get your shopping done.

But then a minor miracle happens… another Mommy, with her baby in the shopping cart passes by, and all of a sudden that other baby is the most fascinating thing your baby has ever seen. Her head whips around and she STARES! And as the two carts slowly separate your baby will twist and turn and lean and do everything she can to keep that other baby in sight. It’s even better than a cookie to keep her quiet, right?

There is one other thing that that captures your baby’s interest in the same way:

Have you ever noticed? (2)

What else fascinates your baby? How about soft fluffy moving things… like the dog or the cat? I mean they may look at and be interested in horses and cows and chickens on TV, but put them in a room  with a puppy and you get that same fascination.

A Teddy Bear

A round head with eyes in the middle- just like a baby!

Have you ever noticed? (3)

How much the head and face of the standard Teddy bear looks like the head and face of a baby? Seriously! That baby in the other shopping cart? Your average Teddy bear’s face looks almost the same. The soft fur of a kitty or puppy… any decent Teddy bear will have the same kind of ‘fur.’ And that’s the reason why Teddy Bears are the number one selling doll for kids, and that’s the reason baby’s love Teddy Bears.

Have you ever noticed?