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The Lamaze Soft Chime Garden is a gorgeous toy suitable for children from 6 months with a variety of bright colours, different textured materials, lights and sounds in a little flower garden. This toy is the updated version of the Lamaze Chime Garden which had a plastic base but same features, the updated version more child friendly as the only hard plastic is on the very bottom.
From the box you can't help but notice the bright smiling faces on the 5 flowers (although one looks a little scared). Each is a different colour with different textured petals from ribbon to felt and centre flower with crinkly petals. The flowers are on thick soft stalks which will stand upright attached to a very thick soft pot base again with a variety of materials in bright colours. As it does require batteries to light up and make sounds there is the plastic bottom to it so it will easily sit on a flat surface.
When buying one, make sure it still has the tag in tact over the battery so you can get good use out of the provided batteries. Scissors are also required as each flower is attached to another and although there is a Velcro tab so you can attach it to a stroller, is still attached by plastic in the box too. Thankfully it's not too hard to remove. It takes 3 AA batteries which don't need replacing too often but screwdriver is required.
As a reward for the child playing with it, tapping the flowers or moving them will activate lights and sounds. The sounds are cheerful and the lights although slightly yellow do light up the head of the flower to the colour of the material over it. There are 3 modes - the first just single notes but play a short tune when initially switching it on, the second short cheerful bursts of 'If you're happy and you know it' with single notes and the third more musical longer tunes.
When I first got the chime garden, it was actually my 2 year old nephew who got his hands on it first. Although it's for kids aged 6+ months, he was still fascinated by the lights and sounds although he'd not play with it for long periods, just a few minutes then onto something else before returning to it. I'd use it to ask which colour each flower was so he was also learning while playing. With my niece on the other hand, it will keep her attention for ages. Coming up for 7 months she doesn't poke each flower like my nephew can but bats them producing a few notes or happy tunes feeling the different material textures and grabbing the flowers or crinkly leaf.
When playing with it at home, niece will happily sit with it between her legs on the floor (although she can't quite sit on her own yet) so the flowers are within easy reach to tap. The chime garden is also travel friendly but quite big. When out and about, it can attach to the carrier bar with a Velcro tab which does look a bit flimsy but as it loops through one end and has a good bit of Velcro hasn't been knocked off. It's also not too long so the base is flush with the handle so only the flowers should move rather than the whole thing swinging. It does say not to attach it to the bar while vehicle is in motion to reduce injury. I have tried attaching it to her buggy but the bar is at an awkward angle so the flowers don't face her.
As it's Lamaze, it's great quality. There are no loose threads and each piece of material is well attached to the other so it's not going to fall apart. It does look a lot more child friendly with the thick soft pot base and also has the added benefit of being able to be used when out compared to the other Chime Garden. It's stimulating with the variety of textures helping to improve hand eye coordination as niece taps and grabs at it with the added sounds and smiley faces proving to be a very cheery toy. As she grows she'll be able to recognise the colours too just as nephew has been doing.
Priced at around £20 it's not a cheap toy but I think it is worth the money and makes a great gift. It's not restricted to just longer music or the individual chimes so do provide a little variety to keep interest.