* Prices may differ from that shown
Mr Lools and I have decided to be organised in the run up to Christmas and review our twin boys extensive toy collection in order to make room for all of the new toys they are due to receive. There are a vast amount of toys that they have grown out of but with the expected arrival of baby number 3 in April we can't get rid of all of the baby toys just yet. Within the collection of "baby" toys there are some toys that we will be keeping, some that we will not be keeping and others that we will be throwing away but also replacing. One of these toys on the "to be kept pile" is the ELC Bug Squeaker.
***ELC Bug Squeaker***
The ELC bug squeaker is essentially a 10cm long fabric tube shaped toy with a soft friendly bug face attached to the top of the tube. When you squeeze the tube it makes a squeaking noise (very much like a dog toy. ELC describe the Bug Squeaker as "The tube body of the bug is ideally sized for little hands to grab and practice using their muscles to make it squeak."
The colours and design of the bug squeaker toy varies. The image on the ELC website shows a bug squeaker with a black tube with white polka dots on, red wings and a friendly white face. We have two bug squeakers and they both look different to this. We have one that has a black and white coloured tube section with red wings and a yellow face. The other has an orange multi-coloured spot coloured tube, green wings and a yellow face.
ELC state that the Bug Squeaker is suitable from birth.
The ELC Bug Squeaker toy is available from ELC and Mothercare stores and is also available from the ELC and Mothercare website. The RRP for the toy is £5, which on reflection does appear slightly expensive for such a small toy with a basic squeaking function. However this toy is regularly on special offer for around £3 (which is the price we purchased in March 2010) which makes it a good value for money baby toy.
We purchased this toy when my boys were around 6-8 weeks old. At this age they were starting to spend more time awake and when stimulated by various visual toys and sounds were starting to smile. Initially when we purchased the ELC Bug Squeaker, it was Mr Lools and I that would squeeze the tube to make the bug make a squeaking sound. It was very hard to judge at a young age but from the number of smiles my boys really seemed to enjoy us doing this and the Bug Squeakers were very effective at keeping them entertained as young babies.
Because the toy is compact (about 10cm long and around 2cm in diameter on the tube section) it is very easy for even very young babies to hold the Bug Squeaker. This was one of first toys that both my boys could hold once they got to around 14 weeks old and took great pleasure in waving the toy around very proudly. Before they had reached 6 months old they had figured out how to make the toy squeak themselves This is a simple case of squeezing the tube section of the toy and the toy squeaks. This gave them great delight being rewarded with sound for squeezing the toy and encouraged them to do this again. The toy is very easy for a baby to squeeze and activate the sound themselves but the squeak is quite loud and high pitched. Therefore after this was done repeatedly I did find it got very annoying. When visiting my mums house this was a sure fire for the cat to run out of the room as he also didn't like the high pitched sounds that the Bug Squeaker made.
What I particularly like about the Bug Squeaker toys are they are so compact. It was very easy to pop these toys into the changing bag and they did not take up a lot of space and also are very light. I often struggled finding compact toys, especially when I had to take enough toys for two babies and could find my changing bag got full and heavy quickly but thankfully the Bug Squeakers did not add to this problem.
The Bug Squeaker is also very helpful for when your child is having their photo taken. Like all new parents I liked to take photos of my boys but often found when they were very young I could not get them to look at me. I often used the Bug Squeaker to squeeze wave around and got some great photos of them looking at me by doing so.
ELC state that the Bug Squeaker is suitable from birth and I would definitely agree with this. It is a soft toy and has no parts that could come detached although it is recommended that you remove the label from the side of the tube section before giving to a baby. As the toy is so lightweight a child can not hurt themselves with this toy by hitting themselves in the face when waving it about with uncoordinated movements like they can with plastic rattles and teethers. It also is a light toy so if a child is lying on their back and playing with this toy (for example when you are changing their nappy to distract them) it means if they drop the toy it will not hurt them.
The toy is very basic in its function with means that it has limited appeal for babies and I did find once my boys got to around 9 months after making the toy squeak a few times, they got bored of the toy very quickly and looked for something that made sounds or flashed. Therefore this is probably a toy most suitable for children between around 8 weeks and 6-7 months old.
Despite being so basic the toy does have developmental features. The toy can help with young babies motor skills encouraging them to hold the toy and reach out for it and pick it up, therefore helping with their hand eye coordination. Secondly the toy encourages a baby to use various senses. The tube section of the toy has a soft fabric feel and the wings attached to this section are silky so babies will experience the different feel of these two materials. The toy is bright and colourful so gives visual stimulation and because the toy squeaks the child also experiences sound. As a child gets older they also learn to press the tube section of the toy themselves in order to make the toy squeak.
Because the Bug Squeaker is made entirely from fabric this does mean the toy gets dirty quite quickly and picks up dirt. On the lighter coloured sections especially the white bits you do notice dirt building up on here quite quickly. The toy also ends up quite damp and soggy as it's the type of toy that babies tend to chew on especially as it is a perfect size for small hands (and mouths) and I feel this helps the toy get dirty so quickly. It is difficult to wipe the toy down with a cloth or sponge because it is quite small so I found myself regularly popping our two Bug Squeakers in the washing machine (and dried on a radiator). After washing the fabric looked as new and this did not affect or stop the squeaker from working. The toys are very good quality like the majority of ELC toys as even after being regularly chewed and put in the washing machine over 8 times both Bug Squeakers look as new and the stitching and fabric has not come away in any places.
This is another great ELC "from birth" baby toy which I would recommend to other parents and I will be keeping in the collection for baby number 3. The Bug Squeaker is limited in its function that it simply squeaks so after the age of around 9 months has very limited appeal to babies and older toddlers. However for young babies it is a safe soft toy that is compact encourages their hand to eye coordination and the loud (and slightly annoying) squeaking sound will keep them entertained.
The main downside to the toy is that because it is made from fabric it does get dirty quite quickly but can be popped in the washing machine and looks as good as new and washing the toy does not affect the squeaking sound the toy makes. At the full price of £5 for such a small basic toy this does seem quite expensive but is more often priced at £3 which is much better value for money.
A great toy to keep your child entertained which takes up very little room in a changing bag but also is a great way to get your child's attention when taking (many) photos albeit the squeaking sound is a little annoying!