When my daughter got to the point of wanting to stand and start to get a bit more active I went on the hunt for a toy which would provide her with entertainment as well as support her. Despite the Jumperoo still being a firm favourite she did want to start doing more when on the floor but wasn't quite at the point where she could pull herself up completely so a toy was needed to help encourage yet stimulate her at the same time as there was really no point in buying something which would be ignored, it needed to be fun and welcoming to an 8 month old baby!
In the end we settled on the Fisher Price Cruise Around Activity Lion. We looked at various toys which were similar in how they encourage children to stand but can also accommodate younger children so they can be played with by a child who is sitting down. As I said above I wanted something that would encourage her to stand whilst making it fun and my daughter is naturally a very nosey child so from our point because there are lots to do on either side of the lion this would encourage her to stand or to 'cruise' as curiosity would over come her and she would get up and look at the other things she can do!
The Fisher Price Lion comes in an adequately sized box and as you can image from Fisher Price it is bright and colourful and clearly depicts the item being played with by children. The lion itself comes in three parts for easy assembly but you will need a screwdriver as the three parts are all held together by small screws which are included. The feet of the lion simply snap into place once the body is put together. Should you have any difficulties whatsoever there is of course a multi language instruction leaflet which shows a step by step guide but if I can do it then anyone can and it takes a matter of minutes before it's put together. The accessories on the lion itself are already fitted so you don't need to do anything other than screw the three pieces together.
The lion itself is bright yellow and is made of a heavy duty plastic type material which is completely smooth with no shape edges. The lion of course has it's face at the one end of the curved shape that it makes. It of course has a mane which again is plastic but is a very vibrant orange colour. It's nose is purple but does flash red when pressed. On the legs of the lion there is various toys that a baby/toddler can play with. There are colourful spinning balls that rattle once spun, bug shaped plastic toys which can be flipped up and down and other toys which can be pushed from side to side. On the top of the lion there is a clear spinning ball which then has numerous little balls inside which rattle, by spinning this the music will start to play.
As mentioned the lion does have melodies which can play should you want them to (there is a switch to turn them off) but they are incredibly limited and personally you do end up getting a bit annoyed with it especially when you actually start to learn the words and sing along! The lion has a very simple melody which speaks and makes a roaring noise (if you can call it that!). Only the lion's nose flashes which will only flash once it has been pressed which is a shame as it would have been nice for a few more flashing lights especially as the toy is aimed at children between 6-36 months who all love colourful flashing lights. Underneath the lion there is a clear blow up ball, almost like a beach ball which has a bell inside so when it is played with it makes a slightly different noise to the other rattling/spinning toys.
My daughter had the lion at around 8 months and instantly it has become a firm favourite with her. Because of its low arch shape it certainly helped my daughter to stand with the support that she desperately needed and required. It has plenty of items to help her grasp onto when trying to stand which was also good, the lion is well made and actually quite sturdy so she didn't have any problems in getting herself up. There are plenty of activities on the lion which helped to keep her amused and although her favourites were the items she could spin and hear a rattling noise she has played with the majority quite a lot. I think what does help a lot is that all the toys and added extras a brightly coloured which no doubt attracts a child's attention. The blow up ball has not been a hit with my daughter and despite being blown up this is something she tends to ignore completely but my cats seem to love knocking it around!
My daughter is now coming up to 15 months and has lost a little interest in the lion simply because she has explored everything that it has to offer 10 times over and is now wanting something a little more stimulating and challenging. That and the fact that now she is walking even when she is standing up and walking around the lion generally she now has to reach down to the lion which I can imagine to be pretty uncomfortable after a while. My daughter is at the stage where she wants to have everything in her reach and the lion as great as it is she doesn't want to have to reach down for it that and I think there isn't enough for her to do anymore to keep her stimulated. There is in my opinion enough to keep a younger baby occupied but I think the fact that the toy is recommended up to 36 months is a little much.
In my personal opinion I wish I had of bought this a little earlier so she could have had it at 6 months rather than 8 months as it would have been nice for her to get more use out of it rather than just for around 5 months as it really is a lovely toy which did keep her occupied and certainly helped her stand and walk around objects but it would have been nice if it could have had an adjustment where you could have made it taller as once my daughter started to have to reach down to play with it she rapidly lost interest which was a shame. I don't think it helps either than it has limited melodies, I know us parents get sick and tired of the same melodies but a little variety would have been nice. A definite benefit from a parents point of view that it is easily cleaned with a simple damp cloth which makes it look newer for longer.
Overall, I am incredibly pleased with this activity toy as not only did it provide my daughter with hours of fun it also helped her learn to 'cruise' properly but then she could also sit down and play with the activity toys on the legs of the lion so there was plenty for her to do. The downside for me is that she now no longer shows interest as she is becoming older she is looking for more complex things to do and to play with as she is an incredibly alert and inquisitive child and this just doesn't satisfy her needs any longer and even though it is for children from 6 to 36 months it just isn't enough for her, that and she doesn't like have to lean or bend down once standing to play with toys but it certainly did prove a worthwhile purchase and would recommend it, just buy it when they are a lot younger so that they get more time with it.
~ Useful Info ~
Brand: Fisher Price
Batteries: 3 'AA'
Tools: Philips screwdriver
Price: £32.00 upwards
Availability: Amazon, EBay etc
Ruby, our newest arrival, was only four months old at Christmas time. Apart from necessities such as milk, babygrows, nappies and vests, what else does a newborn need? Well, that lovely Father Christmas couldn't let her go without, and (with a little help from yours truly) decided upon the Fisher Price Cruise Around Lion.
=== Why this particular Lion? ===
The idea behind this toy was to give Ruby something to grow into, whilst getting as much use as possible from it. I was attracted to the lion as soon as I saw it in the Argos catalogue, especially as it was something I hadn't seen elsewhere. I liked the fact he was stood on his four legs, looking all bright and colourful and full of activities, there looked like there was room enough underneath to lie Ruby down and I presumed there would be toys on the 'belly' for her to enjoy, like on a baby gym. I remember the price being quite high at around £40, so I would have preferred to have actually seen the toy in person first, but couldn't find it anywhere. When Argos had a '3 for 2' offer on all toys in September, I couldn't resist getting most of my Christmas shopping at a bargain price and snapped it up.
=== Putting him together ===
Christmas Eve we decided it would be easier as our youngest two were under 20 months if we assembled their toys so they wouldn't have to wait (impatiently!) for it to be done on the day. The Lion is made of three main yellow body parts, the front legs, the head and back and the back legs. I managed to put it together all on my lonesome (while hubby made up Logans slide) with the help of a Philips screwdriver and a large glass of wine. The front legs have a large piece which slots into the head of the main body with a satisfying 'clunk' and is then secured with a single screw. The back legs obviously adjoin to the tail end of the main section, but without slotting in, these two sections overlap and then need four screws on the underneath, two each side to keep it from coming apart. There are also four large orange feet which each leg snaps into, with a bit of muscle power and keep the lion well balanced and sturdy. Lastly, there is an inflatable ball, the ball is clear and has a yellow, jingly, plastic ball inside and three printed images on the outside. Imagine a small beach ball! It has a red strap attached to the top with a tab on the end which needs to be slotted through a slit in the underneath of the main section, not far from where the back legs connect. You have to push as much of the strap through as you can and then the tabs should flatten out so you are unable to pull it back through, I found this very easy to do. The battery compartment is also on the under belly and takes 3 x AA batteries - which are included - definite extra star there! The plastic is strong and finished perfectly. As long as all screws have been tightened enough the joins are flush and the quality just shines, as you would expect from Fisher Price.
=== But what does he do? ===
I think the Lion looks great. He has a big round head with an orange mane, a little pink tongue, round pink cheeks, comical big eyes and a big round nose which lights up red when pressed or when some of the activities are played with. One front leg has three spinning balls (pink/purple, yellow/blue, green/orange) the other has a green lever which spins a blue and purple flower above it. The lever does need some pressure, too much for Ruby (now six months) but fine for Logan (twenty two months) although the flower can spin independently. The back legs have a ladybird which slides up and down, clicking as it goes, again, this requires more strength than Ruby has at the moment, the other leg features an orange bird, red butterfly and purple frog, all on tabs and overlying each other. Ruby does like to grab these. Above the embossed tail is a blue rimmed, mirrored section. It has a green plastic frog, which slides from one side to the other. The mirror is printed with a blue swirl on one side and a yellow flower with a ladybird on the other. The back of the lion has a large purple butterfly with a clear ball in it's middle. When the ball is spun, it lights up and sets the music off and some colourful small beads rattle around inside. Above the head are two large buttons, one red (embossed with a butterfly), one green (embossed with a frog). When the red button is pressed down, the green button rises and vice versa. Between these and the purple butterfly is the volume control, with a choice of loud, not so loud or off! We keep ours on the middle setting, the little red switch is difficult for little fingers to move. The sounds don't go off unexpectedly, only when played with, so it's safe to leave the switch in the on position without the batteries running flat or the toy scaring you in the middle of your favourite program when the kids have gone to bed! We haven't replaced the batteries yet.
=== Is he noisy? ===
Logan loves repeatedly pressing his nose. The lights only shine in his nose and in the butterfly ball on his back. He makes various little noises,like a 'doing', laughter and a cute (maybe slightly camp) growl. He also sings songs such as:
'time to move, fast or slow, time to crawl, cruise and go, time to jump up and down, hop and spin and whirl around'
'I can reach and pat and spin, take things out and put them in, I can sit and stand up tall, much to do we'll have a ball!'
He also plays about three tunes, I only recognise one which is 'pop goes the weasel', the others I believe are made purposely for the toy.
I like the fact that the music sounds have been made exclusively for this toy, my only little gripe is that the voice is in an American accent. As there is such a market in this country for this brand I think it would be a nice touch to change the recording to an English voice as other brands do. The words are still clear and understandable, I just feel it would probably help an English child who is at the age where they are learning to speak if the words are more recognisable, no matter how slight.
=== Are you keeping him? ===
Initially I was disappointed. I planned on using this as a baby gym. I thought I could lie Ruby underneath it so she could play with the ball, but as I was assembling it I realised there wasn't enough room. However, had I read the write up on the internet properly I would have known this was not the case, the age range is six months plus and aimed at babies who are sitting, up to toddler age. Luckily I had bought it with the intention that Ruby would grow into it so I wasn't too upset. Besides, Logan thought it was great! He could manage all the activities and loved the sounds, he was mostly enamoured with the lions nose because it lit up, he also loves sitting astride it, although this means sitting on one or other of the activities which can't be that comfortable! Three months on and he has lost interest, but he will come and play when we play with it with Ruby. She still isn't quite sitting unaided so we support her and she likes to play with the activities on the legs. I can see her using it when she is pulling herself up to standing and it's sturdy enough to support her for this. The activities are a good range of easy and slightly more difficult to encourage her skills as she gets older, but in all honesty, I can't see it lasting much past the age of two. Personally, I'm happy with this, a little disappointed it wasn't also useful as a babygym (take note Fisher Price, I think you missed a trick with that) but overall, it's great quality and I feel I've got my moneys worth. It doesn't fold, so unless you want to take it apart and put it back together every day, it's going to take up a fair bit of room. There are indentations by the tail and at the front legs which can be used for handles, but it really isn't heavy and I tend to grab it around the middle to shift it out of the way. It is currently priced at £19.99 which is fantastic, it would make a generous looking gift and is more than worth it at this price.