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One of the many books I bought for my first baby was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. It was a book I (and probably most of you) remember as a favourite from my childhood. The eye catching, contrasting colours and interesting, vibrant patterns shown on each page were just as an important factor as the story itself, which is why it is no surprise that there is a vast range of Hungry Caterpillar toys for children now on the market.
Of course at four months Ruby was far too young to have much knowledge of the book but I was delighted when she received this Activity toy as a Christmas gift.
The caterpillar is made of six, soft, circular body sections, each in a different colour/pattern and with it's own activity.
# His head is red, with two antennae (which do look like ears!) in a sparkly, purple material which crinkles. His eyes are emroidered on in bright contrasting yellow and green, as is his little green nose.
# The next section is in a yellow cotton with orange splodges all over. Embroidered on is a shiny green leaf with a musical note, which when pressed plays twinkle, twinkle, little star. There are two little crinkly, orange feet sewn in to the bottom.
# The third part is plush, bright green with a clear, plastic ball in the centre with tiny little coloured beads, which make a lovely little 'rain shaker' sound when the ball is spun. Hanging off the bottom are two plastic rings, one green and the other yellow with glitter in.
# The next section is white with red, yellow, green and blue stars. There is a large green plastic ring which is joined at th top and bottom. On the ring are three plastic beads with ridges all over them.
# The fifth part is the same plush green as the third, but with a silver star sewn into the centre.
# It's tail end is blue with a clear plastic pocket attached to the lower half. A soft, red, squeeky apple with a little green leaf is attached to a red string and can be fitted into the pocket. This part also has two little crinkly orange feet.
Sections three, four and six have thin little satin ribbons sticking out of the top in primary colours. Sections two and five have 14.5cm tabs which follow the bright patterned materials, but have strong velcro on the inside top and bottom and attach to each other. These are for connecting the caterpillar to your chosen object. Ruby's caterpillar is on the handle of her car seat and it fits securely, but the tabs aren't long enough to fit around her cot rail. I've also fixed it to the toy bar on her bouncy chair, which she loves, but although it fits on the bumper bar of her buggy, it hangs down too low for her to play with properly. It measures 40cm in length and 15cm in width (from the longest section, which is the third including the hanging rings.)
I try to alternate between fixing this toy to her car seat and her bouncy chair, although, now at seven months she spends very little time in her chair now. The reason I like these two locations is because the bar/handle is higher up, so when the toy hangs down, it is directly in her line of sight and close enough for her to comfortably play with. She plays with most of the activities, apart from the music as you need quite big hands to get aroung the body to squeeze to button inside. I think her favourite bit is the apple, as it is on a string she can get it to her mouth to chew on and it's just the right size to swap from hand to hand. It's quite a squeeze to get the apple back into the pocket so that's another thing I can't see her managing for quite a while. I don't put the apple in it's pocket as it frustrates her as she can't get it back out. She also likes the beads on the middle ring and I've noticed her using her pincer grip as she moves them up and down. She also likes the sound of the little crinkly feet!
This toy is manufactured by Rainbow Designs who established in 1971, just two years after the Hungry Caterpillar was first published. They make other toys of many much loved pre-school characters, to name a few, Paddington, Spot, Wallace and Gromit, Miffy, Snoopy and their newest stars, The Gruffalo and Wibbly Pig, but you really need to check out their website to see the full list and also the amazing range of toys they have on offer. You can only purchase direct from the site if you are a pre-registered trade customer, but they do have a list of links to their recommended 'E-tailers'. However the toys are available elsewhere, I've seen this particular one in Boots, although ours came from Amazon for what I consider to be a very reasonable £14.99. At present, that price has risen to £17.74, which is still a bit of a saving on the £19.99 RRP.
I think it's a well made and nice looking toy, with enough activities to keep my little lady happy for most trips in her car seat (most of which are under an hour). The colours are bright and vibrant to attract her interest, she loves the little dangly apple which aids her fine motor skills. She can't yet manage to squeeze the apple to make it squeek, or press the leaf to hear the music, but these should be activities that she growns into. The only concern I have here is that she will be out of her car seat before that happens, but then we can just use the toy as a soft toy, it doesn't have to be attached to anything. Although it doesn't fully resemble the Hungry Caterpillar (his body is dark green all over) the patterns are recognisable from the pages of the book and I think young children will make the connection if it's a story they are familiar with. For nearly £20 it is a bit on the expensive side, but if you can get it on offer it's on par with other toys of the same style. I recommend it just from Ruby's excited reaction every time she gets in her seat!