making gift-giving easy with the toy academy

*This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada as part of the Toy Academy program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

Before Luca was born, I bought him a handful of wooden, neutral toys (you know how I love my muted colours!), as well as a few teething items. I tended to steer clear of colourful plastic toys, but I soon learned that this little boy would have strong opinions about what he liked to play with, and how could I deny him a world of colour? And I know it is all too easy to go overboard with toys for our favourite little people, so it’s important to me that the few that I do select be ones that I know he will enjoy.

I know I have already started thinking about gift-giving. This holiday season I have partnered with Walmart to tell you about the Toy Academy, a new program to help make it easy and fun for parents and loved ones to find the perfect toy for children, at various price points. Simply click on a category such as “Top Toys 2017” or “Top Toys Under $20,” and you can order online or check stock of your local store. These are toys that have been proven to be beloved by children: in fact, when we visited drop-in play centers, he would make a beeline for this zebra (the Fisher-Price Learn with Me Zebra Walker), which is in the Toy Academy as a top toy in his age range, as soon as he was mobile. I loved watching him start to toddle while pushing it, and he could spend long periods of time playing with the buttons and levers on the front. It sings little songs, and it also has two volume levels, which I personally love (the lower level is not super loud!).

Another one that we picked up from the Toy Academy list was the Playskool Friends Sesame Street Tickle Me Elmo. I remember when this was the hottest toy a few years ago, selling out at rapid speeds, but I had never seen one myself. Luca has had some exposure to Sesame Street, which was one of my favourite television shows when I was a kid, and he LOVES Elmo. I find myself singing the Elmo’s World theme song and it makes him dance. We’ve also picked up a few Elmo books along the way after I showed him the cover of one and he laughed hysterically for about a minute. I was so excited to show him this Elmo toy, but sadly, he seems to be a little wary of it! He doesn’t seem to like the way it shakes. But we turned it off and it’s perfect for a cuddle (or for pretending to take photos, as he is doing above!).

Maybe one day they’ll be better friends!