My son was given a Ruby & Ginger Toy Tie when he was around six months old, he was the kind of baby who was more settled in his car seat than his bouncy chair but the problem was he quickly became bored as he was too small to really *do* anything for himself but obviously the car seat didn't come with toy attachments. I was just about sick and tired of picking up whichever toy he'd dropped every couple of minutes and when I mentioned this to a reviewing friend she told me to look out for the postie as something was on its way for David.
That 'something' was a very simple strip of fabric which proved to be an excellent addition to our toy cupboard and is still used now to a point, if not for the 'official' use.
The basic premise behind the Toy Tie is that you use it to attach your child's favourite toy to the carrying handle of their car seat, this keeping them entertained both in the car and also if (like David) they like to sit in their seat in the house. They work through simple velcro strips so are fully removable, attaching a Toy Tie takes literally seconds with the velcro being of the ultra-strong variety - you simply wrap one end around the handle of the car seat and the other around the toy. Soft toys work best as you have arms and legs to wrap the tie around, but anything that has a 'sticking out' section can be wrapped - the beauty of this for me is that I could choose a different toy for David to take out every day, unlike if I'd bought a toy bar where he'd be looking at the same three toys every time he used it.
The length of the Toy Tie is 62cm and in real terms this is perfect for covering the distance between the carry handle and baby, it's not so long that the toy is lying across their face but isn't short enough for baby to have any problems reaching and handling the toy. It's great for smaller babies as it gives them something to focus on during a car journey when they won't have the usual level of attention from mum or dad, and also makes transporting a favourite cuddly toy so much easier than trying to just pop it into the chair (to invariably be kicked out before you've even driven to the end of your road).
Ruby & Ginger have taken into consideration the fact that some car seat handles are thicker than others by providing a decent length of velcro on this end, I've used this Toy Tie on two different car seats and also attached it through the chest strap of his next stage car seat for a while - I can't think of a seat which wouldn't be suitable to have this fitted actually, I found it's more versatile with a 5-point harness as there are more straps to choose from when you come to attach it but it works just as well with a 3-point system. The velcro on the other end (the toy end) is shorter so it forms a much smaller loop, it doesn't adjust to such a large degree and that seems strange as a longer length of velcro would mean I had an even wider choice of toys for David - as it is the tie will fit larger toys perfectly but smaller ones just fall off straightaway, another reason I usually opted for a soft toy as those are generally bigger than plastic baby toys.
Once attached the toy is reasonably secure, the velcro is strong enough to deal with a baby swatting and yanking at a toy but once they reach a certain age and develop better strength they'll easily pull the toy loose. The long length of velcro keeps the tie secure on the carry handle however, an extremely important point as this is such a long piece of fabric that it could very easily pose a strangulation hazard if the whole tie was able to be pulled loose - if you're only using it in the first stage car seat it won't be an issue, but if you move the tie into the next car seat (when baby is even more dexterous) then you will have to keep a close eye on what they're doing which isn't ideal if you're driving and need to concentrate on the road! In my case there was usually someone else in the car to do the watching, and in any case you'll HEAR if the velcro is being ripped apart, but this is something you do need to be vigilant over.
The Toy Tie is available in several different designs, David's is a light denim blue colour with a green spotty design. I've washed it numerous times in the washing machine and it still looks in perfect condition, I suspect it's faded slightly but this hasn't had any impact on the fantastic look of the tie - if I had to label it I'd say it has an air of shabby chic, it really does look fantastic and a nice change from the garishly bright colours that seem to be all over the place for babies at the moment. Being 100% cotton it hasn't shrunk or become misshapen, I use a cool wash as and when it's needed and dry the tie outside - this seems to suit it and it really does look as good as new despite two years of use.
These days it's used to hang individual teddies from the dressing gown hook on the back of David's door, or rather it was until a couple of days ago when he learnt that he can now reach it and hang from it for the velcro to fail - as he currently has a thing about scarves I've decided to take it out of his room as the temptation is obviously there for him to put this around his neck as a makeshift scarf. It's a shame as I really like the Toy Tie but its life isn't over yet as I'm going to pass it on to another friend who has had a baby recently, I can't see why it can't be passed on and on personally as it's beautifully and very securely made so will surely pass the test of time.
For just £5 this is one of those things which really can make life easier. No more contorting yourself each time you're stationary at a set of traffic lights to reach into the back seat footwell to retrieve a dropped (thrown...) toy and if you're using it in the house you might even get to finish your cup of coffee while it's still hot for a change. A real simple innovation.
Accessory type: Car Seat Extras