April 22, 2024

TDmonthly Magazine

May 2006 | Vol. V - No. 5

Manufacturers Respond to Babies' Demands

Babies Want Control of Their Snuggly Environments

By Julie Adrian
May 2006

“Infants do not have many opportunities to control their environments besides crying for food or other needs.” Robert Titzer, Ph.D., Infant Learning Company

The babies have spoken (ur, suggested through moans, wails and giggles): They want products that let them affect real change in their surroundings, and the softer, the better. Today’s babies prefer nursery items they can manipulate and those with super soothing textures.

Baby Farm Friends Bowling from the Earlyears line by International Playthings Inc., for instance, has sold consistently well at Learning Express for over a year, according to Lisa Visco, vice president of merchandising. The set includes six soft fabric bowling pins and a bowling ball. "It's popular because kids like cause and effect," Visco said.

In numerous studies "babies are seen smiling and giggling, possibly because they enjoy having some control over their environment," Robert Titzer, Ph.D., owner of the Infant Learning Company told TDmonthly Magazine. "Infants do not have many opportunities to control their environments besides crying for food or other needs."

According to Titzer, in one study a ribbon was attached to a baby's foot. When the baby kicked, a mobile moved. "Babies learned contingency between their kicks and the mobile’s movement." Titzer said babies as young as 3 months old recognized the relationship after only a few minutes.

“Now more manufacturers are incorporating electronics into cause-and-effect toys," Visco said. Lamaze’s Hug A Boo Bear, for instance, giggles when his arms are lifted over his face and he plays peekaboo when his arms are dropped. The company’s Clap With Me Monkey sings when his hands are manually clapped together.

Heidi Haarstad, product manager with Manhattan Toy Company (ToyDirectory), told TDmonthly, "One of our best new products is a Nooboo Symphonic Stacker … When you put the ring around the post, a musical sound plays through the fabric.”

According to Haarstad, Manhattan Toy goes to Europe several times a year to look at product trends because they are a few years ahead of the United States from a design standpoint. "The European feel, the mixture of bright colors and nonbrights, has been one of our latest trends," she said.

Peek-Squeak & Little Peep — Giraffe and Peek-Squeak & Little Peep — Elephant are both patterned after this European palette. And they’re soft, too.

"Satin is always a key fabric in baby products," said Haarstad. "Babies love to snuggle with ultrasoft fabrics. It's a solid trend; we’re seeing silk on all parts of blankets which many of us are gravitating towards."

"In our new nursery collection called Little Lovelies," Haarstad continued, "our toys are made of ultrasoft fabrics, and these particular toys are all about neutral and sherbet colors."

Elizabeth Waldman Frazier, publicist for Taggies Inc., told TDmonthly, “Children love the feel of rubbing together the satin edges of tags, and they find the looks of colorful tags really appealing.”

New for 2006 is Love Notes, a line of buttery soft Taggies blankets and travel toys embellished with tender messages, and plush products, available through a partnership with Mary Meyer.

The following is more information on products that follow these trends.


Fun Time Tractor by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLCThis tractor has a farmer that drives around with five removable plastic farm animals that make their animal sounds when placed on the plastic vehicle.
— Out of the Blue Ltd. Store Manager Kara Fichtner, in Albuquerque, N.M., told TDmonthly in May 2006: “It’s one of my favorite toys. It’s something we show customers when they come in looking for a toy for a 1-year-old.”
— “We sell 144 tractors a year, and we don’t have many people coming in,” Grafton Stine, owner of Toys on the Square in Hummelstown, Pa, told TDmonthly in summer 2007.
— “For a first birthday toy, it’s the Fun Time Tractor from iPlay — it really sells,” noted Teresa Ford, owner of Kids’ Ketch in Lewes, Del., when asked about best-selling baby gifts in July 2008. Six of 39 retailers told TDmonthly in March 2010 that International Playthings supplies their best-selling infant and toddler toys. Two singled out the Funtime Tractor as a top-selling individual item with sales of four per month.
— In a 2012 survey about best selling infant & toddler products, Joe Berardoni, owner of Pun's Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa. told TDmonthly, "Pun’s best selling baby toy continues to be the Funtime Tractor from International Playthings. Even though it retails for more than $30, this store sells a disproportional amount- up to 12 a month, even during slow times. Of course, my staff all love it also, so it is usually recommended." (Watch the Fun Time Tractor Video Watch Video) 8/31/2005 (MSRP: $32.99; Age: 1 to 3)


Baby Farm Friends Bowling by INTERNATIONAL PLAYTHINGS LLCBaby Farm Friends Bowling from the Earlyears line includes six numbered pins with a soft weighted ball so baby can practice coordination and counting at the same time. The cushiony pins make soft sounds and resemble farm animals including a cow, pig, sheep, dog and duck. The colorful ball has its own distinctive chiming sound and the pins are distinctively numbered from one to six and are easy to stand up. The toy comes with a reusable zip bag, so when kids are done with it they can put it back. This toy won an iParenting Media Award. "Bright, colorful and classic, it's a must for any 12 month-old," Sue Tice, public relations manager for International Playthings, told TDmonthly.
— "We actually have baby bowling — soft cloth pins and balls — by International Playthings that does well," said Cheryl Pyles, manager at Toyland in Milford, N.H., when predicting hot-selling baby items for Christmas 2007.
— "It's all seasons for babies, and International Playthings for babies and toddlers," said Patricia Masing, co-owner of Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich.
— Gwen Bowden, manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Springfield, Va. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that this soft bowling set was a best-selling toy in the infant & toddler category.
— Want this? As of 05/06/2011, this product was available for purchase at Doodlehopper 4 Kids. 11/21/2005 (MSRP: $22.00; Age: 1 and Up)

My First Taggies Book: I Love You by TAGGIES INC.

My First Taggies Book: I Love You by TAGGIES INC.The soft books are embroidered and have various fabrics, and the book comes with many satin tags designed for the baby to hold onto. It is a joint project with Scholastic. 3/3/2006 (MSRP: $12.95; Age: 0 and Up)

My First Taggies Book: Sweet Dreams by TAGGIES INC.

My First Taggies Book: Sweet Dreams by TAGGIES INC.These soft embroidered books are made with various fabrics. The pages are tagged with satin so baby can grab hold and tug. Sweet Dreams is a joint project with Scholastic. 3/3/2006 (MSRP: $12.95; Age: All Ages)

Taggies Musical Duck by MARY MEYER CORP.

Taggies Musical Duck by MARY MEYER CORP.This plush soft yellow duck has satin tags in various patterns attached to its wings so the baby can hold onto its feathers. When turned, an oversized key plays the musical notes of Brahm's Lullaby. This product is new for 2006. 3/3/2006 (MSRP: $24.95; Age: All Ages)

Toss the Taggies by TAGGIES INC.

Toss the Taggies by TAGGIES INC.

Toss the Taggies is approximately 8" in diameter and comes adorned with loads of multi-colored, multi-textured tags that babies and children love to rub and grab. It is designed to benefit children developmentally as they are enticed to explore the various tactile and visually stimulating looped satin tags. The colors and material are both soothing and comforting. This product recently received an iParenting Media Awards editorial inclusion and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award. It also received the 2007 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award and the 2007 Oppenheim SNAP (Special Needs Adaptable Product) Award. “The patented functionality and multiple tactile and developmental opportunities offered by our unique, looped tags…set this product apart,” Shirley Conner of Taggies Inc. told TDmonthly.

— "Anything by Taggies; those sell like crazy," Holly Anvers, manager of Ages & Stages Toy Box in Golden, Colo., told TDmonthly about her best-selling infant product in March 2010. "Especially the Toss the Taggies ball." Two of 39 retailers named Taggies as a top-selling baby product. (Watch the Toss the Taggies Video Watch Video) 3/3/2006 (MSRP: $19.95; Age: 0 to 3)

Lamaze: Hug-A-Boo Bear by LEARNING CURVE

Lamaze: Hug-A-Boo Bear by LEARNING CURVEThis furry stuffed animal bear holding a quilted blanket plays peekaboo. He giggles and plays music when his arms are lifted over his face. 3/3/2006 (MSRP: $17.00; Age: All Ages)

Lamaze Clap With Me Monkey by LEARNING CURVE

Lamaze Clap With Me Monkey by LEARNING CURVEThis stuffed animal monkey is a smiling interactive toy whose stunning purple, yellow and green patterns attract babies’ eyes. When the infant or toddler claps the monkey's hands together, the monkey plays the song "If You're Happy and You Know It." Launch date: 2006. 3/3/2006 (MSRP: $20.00; Age: All Ages)

Baby Whoozit by MANHATTAN TOY

Baby Whoozit by MANHATTAN TOYThe 6" version of Whoozit has hidden noise makers, including rattles, squeakers and crinkle paper to perk up little ears. Whoozit is made of ultrasoft velour and attaches to most strollers, carriers and car seats. Whoozit is uniquely designed to hold babies’ attention. Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barston’s Child’s Play in Baltimore, Md., told TDmonthly Whoozit by Manhattan Toy would be a 2006 holiday best seller in a market where “nothing really stands out.”
— Jessica Wood of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., told TDmonthly in summer 2008 that her store sells six to 12 Whoozits a month.
— Catherine Higgins of Stone Soup in Bar Harbor, Maine, reported monthly sales of 5 to 6 units.
— Three of 66 retailers mentioned Whoozit as a best-selling baby gift in July 2008.
— As of 8.24.10, this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 2 reviews on and was listed in the top 30 best-selling toys and games. PROS:  Humorous; keeps children busy. 11/2/2005 (MSRP: $12.00; Age: 0 to 2)

Peek-Squeak & Little Peep-Giraffe by MANHATTAN TOY

Peek-Squeak & Little Peep-Giraffe by MANHATTAN TOYA very soft bright multi-colored giraffe, this toy features squeakers, crinkle paper, mirrors and teething rings. A small bird, secured by a magnet in its hand, rattles when shaken. 3/3/2006 (MSRP: $20.00; Age: All Ages)

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