Life with kids never goes to plan. Pretty much the only thing you can predict is the unpredictability. Which is why my minimalist nappy bag aspirations have gone out the window in favour of having options on hand for any emergency.
Apart from raisins and muesli bars for desperate hungry times, and all the boring stuff required to keep things sanitary, a few engaging toys can go a long way in case of unexpected (or expected) waits. We try to keep our key nappy bag toys for out and about, so that if when we need them they still haven novelty value.
Wooden Puzzle Worm
Value for money
An attractive and compact wooden puzzle that is simple but engaging. Perfect for keeping in the nappy bag or stashed in the car for boredom emergencies.
The best one we have is this Wooden Puzzle Worm. I picked it up on a whim in a gift shop called Teepee, in The Tannery in Christchurch. We were having a little family holiday and I wanted a memento for the Little Monkey. The bright colours caught my eye, and I didn’t realise how cool it was until he started playing with it.
The tail unscrews to let the coloured rings off. It’s not that simple, though — each ring has a notch out of it, and the worm’s body has four pegs along its length. The first ring comes off easily, but the next one has to be rotated to align the notch with the last peg. The further along you go, the more pegs have to be avoided — a neat little locking / keyhole type puzzle.
Because it’s compact (about 15cm long) it makes an ideal nappy bag toy. The bright colours are appealing, and the challenge of getting all the pieces on, off, and on again can provide entertainment for quite a while. As well as solving the puzzle, towers can be built, or the rings can be worn on fingers, or (though this is less of a win) each piece can be dropped on the floor to explore gravity, and bouncing and rolling properties.
The Little Monkey was about 19 months old when we got it. At that point the puzzle was a bit tricky for him but he was very happy to play with the pieces for a while. As he’s grown he’s become more engrossed in the puzzle aspect, and though he now has the theoretical understanding of how it works, it still gives him a good challenge to get each piece off and then back on.
It has seen us through several lengthy waits — like that time I got sent to the hospital for 40 minutes of foetal heart rate monitoring. It was just me and the Little Monkey, and to keep the monitor in the right place the mum isn’t supposed to move. Ha! Somehow though, between the worm and a packet of raisins (what would we do without raisins?), we all remained happy and calm.
A year of bashing around in the bottom of the nappy bag — and plenty of enthusiastic play — has caused some of the paint to scuff off on the edges, but I think it’s weathered the storms of its life pretty well.
It’d be a fun toy for around the house, too, but I love having it in our nappy bag. And on that front, I’m realising that I haven’t scaled up enough, so I’m on the hunt for a bag that is functional and will serve the needs of two cloth-nappy-wearing littlies. Let me know if you have any recommendations!
Awesome or Average: Awesome
Little Wooden Toybox (Australia only)
Please let me know if you know of any NZ or international retailers!