Vail Valley Novice Father: The overflowing toy-chest |

Vail Valley Novice Father: The overflowing toy-chest

Kelly Coffey
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-My 9-month old daughter is now dexterous enough to get into toys. In months past she was pretty much a slug and spent most of her time looking at things. There wasn’t much interaction with objects of any kind.

Now that she’s mobile, she’s after everything that isn’t nailed down. My wife and I spend a lot of mental energy figuring out which toys will best help her development. We’re not exactly getting her hooked on Nintendo Wii, but the Kid’s acquired more toys than I can keep track of. We have toys that help her sit up. We have toys that are good for pushing. We have toys that are good for stacking. We have toys that are good for placing smaller objects inside of bigger objects.

Someone told us that stackable toys are perfect right now for the Kid’s development. She doesn’t have stacking mastered yet (she’s not even interested in trying). But she’s got the knocking down the stackable tower down pat. It works out to be a nice division of labor: I stack the cups into a tower. She knocks it over. If colleges offered majors in knocking things down, the Kid would have a master’s degree from Harvard.

On any given evening the living room floor is covered with these things. I fear for my life each night when I turn off the lights and head up to bed. One father said it best: “Good luck navigating through that in the dark. It’s like a Japanese game show.”

The Kid ignores any toy scientifically designed to help her mental and physical growth. Her favorite toy right now is a plastic container I saved from the recycling bin. It rolls. It’s fun to suck on. It makes great noises when you bang it against the wooden floor. What more could you ask for?

According to the Kid, simpler is better. Electronic baby toys haven’t been big in the Coffey household … neither for the baby or the parents. I’m not a fan of the blinking lights, the electronic noises, the moving parts. Give me a wooden duck with wheels any day.

That bias probably comes from my experience over the last few months. We received a good portion of these toys as hand-me-downs. For months we had bags of these things deep in our hallway closet. I’ve scared myself senseless a dozen times when I went to grab something out of the closet and knocked one of these bags. Sirens and voices erupt like I’ve disrupted these plastic gizmos from hibernation.

Along with bagfuls of toys, my wife and I received good advice about how to keep the Kid from losing interest in the toys she has. We make sure we rotate the collection. This week it’s the wooden duck, the stackable cups, and that triangular thing with lots of things that spin and attract her attention. Next week it will be the colorful plastic rings on a post, the ball with the bell inside, and those linkable plastic letters. Some of these toys are on their third or fourth reintroduction. What once was old is new again.

Grandma’s got all those toys beat, though. Every time the Kid visits, Grandma brings out the plastic measuring cups and Tupperware. Those things will keep her occupied every minute between naps.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. Submit comments to

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