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My boys received a mountain of toys for their first Christmas, and because their birthday falls in mid-January we received another massive influx of toys then too. Even though we are now 6 months after their birthday I'm still working my way through their gifts, one of which was the Leapfrog Counting Candles Birthday Cake.
***Leapfrog Counting Candles Birthday Cake***
The Leapfrog Counting Candles Birthday Cake is basically a plastic toy shaped birthday cake with light up candles that allows children to sing and play happy birthday any time of the year.
The cake is a circular predominantly white cake about 10cm in diameter. It has 5 plastic candles on top of it which has a soft rubber tip that light up. There are two buttons on the cake which when pressed play 5 different songs about counting and growing older. The cake also plays the music to "Happy Birthday" There is also a sensor on the cake when you blow over it the candles on the cake blow out.
Leapfrog state that the toy is suitable from 12 months.
The toy requires 3 AA size batteries however these are initially supplied with the toy.
The Leapfrog Counting Candles Birthday Cake is available from a number of retailers including Mothercare, ELC, Toys R Us, Smyths, Tesco and Sainsburys. It is also available from The RRP for the toy is £14.99. A number of retailers offer discounts on this product throughout the year. Mothercare are currently selling this for £12.99. Price wise it is an average price for this type of child toy, and most small toys with "learning features" are priced around the £10-15 mark including toys from other brands such as Fisher Price or VTech.
***Playing with It***
The Counting Candles Birthday Cake was actually a gift from my parents for my twin boys 1st Birthday, so they started playing with this from 12 months old.
Like most children's toys, the Counting Candles Birthday Cake was tightly fixed into the packaging so as a parent be prepared for 10 minutes worth of unfixing ties and battling with packaging. Once out of the packaging you simply take a strip out of the battery pack and the toy is ready to play with.
At the front of the cake near the top section there is a yellow slide along switch which is the on/ off button. This has the off setting, a half volume and a full volume setting. The half volume setting is preferable as a parent as your child can hear the music and sounds without it causing excess noise, where the full volume setting is noisy and the music will be heard over conversations or over the TV. I try and set this to the half volume setting however the switch is quite easy to slide along, even for a young toddler so from around 14 months my boys were able to turn the volume of the toy up.
Along with the 5 candles on the top of the cake there are also two buttons on top of the cake, one being a star the other being a balloon shape. To activate the toy you press the star button to light the candles (one press per candle, therefore to light all 5 candles you need to press the star 5 times) and then press the balloon button to activate the music.
By simply pressing the buttons on top of the cake you can activate music and songs but there has to be some form of understanding in order to light the "correct" amount of candles and to activate the happy birthday song. My friends little boy is three and after explaining to him how to activate 3 candles by pressing the buttons it did take him around 5 attempts to get it right. Not the most complex concept but for younger children it is more of a case of pressing buttons and listening to the music.
Once the "Happy Birthday" function is played an upbeat happy birthday to you tune is played whilst the candles on top of the cake have a flickering effect. My boys from 12 months old got very excited by this and would sit next to the cake dancing. Once the song has finished you can blow out the candles by blowing over the sensor which then makes all of the lights go out on the candles. When blowing the candles out you do have to blow quite hard and be accurate that you blow over the sensor. From around 14 months my boys recognised (from watching me do it) that you need to blow the candles out but it is only recently at almost 18 months old that they have managed to do so and are not able to blow the candles out every time that they attempt to. My friends children who are older (ranging from between 2- 3 years) are able to blow the candles out. Once the candles have been blown out a cheering sound is played.
The other songs that are played by the cake are very educational and involve lots of counting so teach your child number but when played on repeat they do get quite annoying for parents, especially if your children are like mine and keep pressing the buttons on the cake to set the music off. However the repetition of the songs and the phrases within these songs encourage children's development, teaching them to count. This toy also encourages children's imaginative skills.
Although in my opinion the birthday cake and blowing out the candles function is quite basic my boys do not seem to get bored of it and are entertained for long periods of time, listening to the music and blowing out the candles. The main downside to the toy in my opinion is that it is quite small and therefore for young children that do not fully understand or cooperate with the concept of sharing many fights ensue over who is playing with it as it is not really large enough for two children to play with.
The toy itself is durable and has been dropped on laminate flooring during the many fights between my boys about who is playing with the toy. The rubber tips on the candles that stick up from the cake are also durable and tough. One of my boys regularly chews these rubber tips and he has not ripped or chewed through these even after 5 months of doing so.
This is a great toy that both my boys love and their older friends love to play with. The toy is durable and well made so has withstood being dropped and the constant rough play that takes place in our house hold.
Although as a parent the high pitched singing and songs do get slightly annoying when played repeatedly, my boys love playing with the Counting Candles Birthday Cake. From 12 months they would sit next to the cake and dance to the music, and by 14 months they knew when to pretend to blow out the candles (at this age they were not able to do so). Now at almost 18 months old they are both capable of pressing the correct buttons to set the music off and are able to blow out the candles. They are both starting to imitate when the counting songs and although they are not actually clearly saying "one, two, three, four, five" they are actually trying to say these words so I feel it is helping their speech development.
A fun toy for little ones, although eventually you may have to explain why every day is not your child's birthday!