Pros: Durable, works as advertised, ample storage space in toy, great play value
Cons: The Evil Button of Parental Annoyance and Migraine Generation. I hate that button!
That is how my daughter sings it, so this toy taught me!
I bought this for my daughter's third Christmas, wanting to have Santa bring her a really big present instead of a bunch of little ones. (Note--she was only two for her third Christmas, as her birthday falls just a few days before Christmas. AAAAAAAGH! A birthday party and Christmas all in one week! Please kill me now.) So it was with much anticipation that the hubby and I dragged home the enormous box that held the Little Tikes Tender Heart Nursery.
What you get
One nursery (with a cradle, swing, and high chair), one talking baby monitor, one spoon, one divided bowl, and one bottle. That's it. *grumbling*
What this toy encourages
This toy encourages pretend play, interactive play, and interest in caring for babies (on the most basic level, of course!)
I made hubby put this one together as I was struggling mightily with the Little Tikes grocery cart and the Playskool Sit N Spin. Hubby reported when he was done that Little Tikes toys are a giant pain in the rear to assemble. Having just finished my battle with the aforementioned shopping cart, I had to concur.
His main problem with assembly was screwing metal screws into plastic holes, which he said was more difficult than it sounds. After having assembled the shopping cart and the Little Tikes Tender Heart Talking Vanity, I heartily agree. He also had a lot of trouble inserting the heart-shaped finials on the four posts of the cradle. In the end, he used a rubber mallet over a towel to whack them into place. That did the trick. I offered to help and put the three AA batteries into the monitor. He asked me if I strained myself doing that. Jerk.
Assembly done, we sat back and looked at the toy we had just blown $60 on. It didn't look like much. The nursery when assembled takes up about two and a half feet of floor space. It looked like a big chunk of multi-colored plastic. I said, "Did we just waste sixty bucks on that?!" He told me to wait until our daughter played with it before we started kicking ourselves. And the answer is...
YES! She ran to the nursery on Christmas morning and demanded a baby doll to rock in the cradle. She immediately started singing "Rock a my baby, in the free top". I judged the toy to be a hit, and it has remained a hit after 18 months of hard play.
The nursery has three components, all together in one lightweight but tip-proof unit. On the left is the high chair, which faces to the side. In the middle is the cradle, which actually swings, and on the right is the swing, which, as you probably guessed, also swings. In between the the cradle and swing and on the high chair tray are two rectangular holes with a funny-looking peg in the middle. What is it? you might ask. Well, I'm about to tell you.
Those rectangles are the docking stations for the electronic talking baby monitor. Those funny-looking pegs go into the bottom of the monitor and trigger the various sounds the monitor makes. The pegs are direction-oriented. This means that when the monitor is placed facing the cradle, it makes a different sound then when the monitor faces the the swing. And it makes different sounds altogether when placed on the high chair tray.
~When placed on the high chair, the monitor makes slurping, chewing, burping, cooing, and "raspberry" noises. You know that sound that comes out of a baby when they spit their baby food onto their chin? That noise.
~When facing the cradle, the monitor plays "Rock-a-bye Baby"
~When facing the swing, the monitor makes laughing sounds and "goo goo" sounds over two verses of "Pop Goes The Weasel".
It's a clever concept, the direction-oriented triggers, but it's not without problems. Although the monitor should only make sounds when placed in the docking stations, we have found that it makes sounds when pulled from the stations on occasion. This means you have to wait for the sounds to end before you place the monitor in the other docking station. Also, the monitor doesn't always make the correct sound. It's disconcerting, to say the least, to have burping noises going on when you're rocking the cradle.
The monitor also lights up through a translucent pink heart placed at the top of the monitor. Three lights in the heart light up in random patterns. And then there is the Button. The nice, big, shiny yellow Button. I hate that Button. You see, when that Button is pressed, you get a giant spiel that extols the virtues of the Tender Heart Nursery and does nothing to enhance play. Let me type the whole awful oration...
Bring your nursery to life. Play a tune at bedtime! (first line of Rock-a-bye Baby plays) Hear your baby giggle on the swing! (followed by a baby voice saying "aa-ahh!) Listen to her eat! (followed by chewing noises) Enjoy these fun sounds, and many more, with the Little Tikes Nursery.
The worst part of that speech? The fact that my daughter presses that Button over and over and over and over... I have christened that Button as The Evil Button of Parental Annoyance and Migraine Generation.
The nursery comes with a white plastic spoon, aqua plastic divided bowl, and pink plastic baby bottle. On the high chair tray is a spoon-shaped depression, and guess what? The spoon fits there perfectly. And that is it as far as accessories, which annoys me to no end. I had to go buy a diaper bag filled with other accessories to aid my daughter's pretend play. Let's face it, we all know that babies use WAY more stuff than a spoon, bowl, and bottle.
The nursery itself works exactly as promised. Both the cradle and the swing move easily. The swing has a tendency to pop off one side or the other, but that is so easily remedied that my daughter has ceased calling me to fix it and does so herself. The swing and high chair hold all of her babies well, and the cradle has enough room for all but the biggest baby. Under the cradle is a big open storage bin. We put the baby bathtub, diaper bag, and miscellaneous accessories in it, but I suppose it could be used as a baby bathtub if you don't feel like shelling out more money.
The nursery is made of white, pink, yellow, and aqua plastic, which works well with the color scheme of 99% of my daughter's toys. It is decorated by decals for the most part. The cradle actually has molded details, which is rare for most Little Tikes toys. A pillow and quilt are molded in the bottom of the cradle. It's hard for a toddler to differentiate the detail, so my daughter's babies usually end up sleeping with their feet on the pillow. And Little Tikes? Nice example to set...every one knows that pillows are very harmful to babies as they could cause suffocation! Even 1/4 inch high molded plastic ones!
What I like about this toy
~It gets played with constantly
~It works exactly as promised
~It is very sturdy and hasn't ever tipped over
~It is exactly the right height for my pre-schooler to play with every feature comfortably.
~Ample storage space for all related toys...even the folding doll-size umbrella stroller!
What I HATE about this toy
~The Evil Button of Parental Annoyance and Migraine Generation
~The monitor doesn't always make the correct sounds for the correct docking station
~Skimpy on accessories...come on, three pieces? Three?!
~The Evil Button of Parental Annoyance and Migraine Generation
~The price is a little high...I paid $60, $40 sounds more reasonable. Wait for a sale.
~And did I mention, The Evil Button of Parental Annoyance and Migraine Generation? I did? Let me say it again. The Evil Button of Parental Annoyance and Migraine Generation.