Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
When Astrid first took an interest in sand (other than eating it), she envied another child’s sand tower. I was thrilled and tracked one down in the off-season to get for her. And then she never used it. Great start.
(BTW, is there an “off-season” for sandboxes in California? I don’t think so, but apparently the toy stores only stock sand stuff over the summer, like we live in the snow belt. Get it together, toy stores! After some searching, I found one at A Child’s Delight in the Marina, in case you’re looking. The Ark told me with a throat clear that they, um, wouldn’t carry something that, er, plastic. Whatever! I love wooden toys too, but come on: I don’t need to pay Plan Toys prices to make me a shovel she’s going to lose in a week!!)
Anyway, I also got Astrid the obligatory bucket, shovels, trowels and a little red rake, which she liked for the color but has no idea how to use. She was fine with all that but not super enthusiastic. I didn’t know I was barking up the wrong tree until the nanny mentioned that Astrid loved the Ikea kitchen set one of her friends has. For $10 each for the pots and pans set and the baking set, plus $4 for the utensils, I was only out $24 for a ton of stuff it cost us hundreds of dollars to buy in adult sizes!
In addition, it turns out that that pot set is the best thing ever in the sandbox. It’s shiny, the pasta strainer makes a fantastic sieve, and the wok doubles as a shovel. All the other kiddies want to play with it too. The utensils get buried pretty easily, so keep an eye on them, but all in all, $14 for the pots and utensils is some of the best money on toys I’ve spent so far. Hooray Ikea!
(We also got the the plastic glasses, which A. loves to use in the bath to do, “Cheers!” with at the table.)