I am against plastic toys. Not for any sound, research-based reason, but because I just don't want a huge pile of that stuff hanging around the house.
So, I aim to stick to a few basic types of toys, which are those that cover all the basics. And, really, kids are resourcesful and inventive all on their own. They will make toys out of anything. One could argue that those cheap, ubiquitous plastic toys actually stunt kids' creativity.
But, there are a few toys that don't. Blocks are one. I finally finished the fabric blocks I set out to make. There are 9, one for each letter of Baby Field Notes' name. Each side has something different on it. On the reverse side of her name letters are numbers, and on a facing side are the numbers 1-9 in arabic. Because the numeral symbols we use are derived from arabic, there are a lot of similarities in the two sets of numbers. The white sided block, right underneath the division symbol in the photo here, is a 3, for example. In addition to some letters for her to spell out the two newfs' names, I threw in some mathematical symbols. Those sides she can have fun with later. I loved math as a kid and I won't be surprised if she does too.
As far as other toys for her to play with, we have been pretty spare. Better to not start that bad habit in the first place. I do not want to get in the habit of accumulating a bunch of plastic toys that only do one or two things and that quickly lose appeal.
So, I am trying to keep toy purchases and planned ones to a minimum of what is really essential in my opinion. Stuffed animals are essential, I think. They serve the same purpose as dolls as far as make-believe goes. They will also be a stepping stone to an interest in biology and the natural world, just like going on nature walks and playing in the garden will. She'll have her giant collection of felt food too — another one that is wonderful for play because she can pretend to not only serve meals and shop for them, she can pretend to operate a restaurant and farmer's market stand too, if she wants to. I am sure her stuffed animals and I will have to sit through more than one 'tea party' where sushi is served.
Every child needs to have a truck or two — the kind you use in a sand box or out at the beach or in the dirt and mud in the backyard. We've already got a dump truck. I get a kick out of the fact that it is in use as a handy place for us to keep a stash of diapers. More fun than leaving them in a box in the closet!
Other than trucks to play with in the dirt and sand, she'll need puzzles and blocks. Both are essential in my opinion. We've already got a few puzzles. I plan on getting her a really nice set of wood blocks to build towers and bridges and whatvever else she puts her mind to, if no one else does, but I have a feeling between her grandparents, aunts and uncles and great-grandparents, I probably won't need to buy her a thing! When she's older, we'll do the Legos. Mr. Field Notes still has the Legos he played with as a kid! Tangrams are awesome puzzles as well. They are excellent for practicing spatial skills and are fun for kids and adults alike... which is why we already have a set.
I really cannot think of other toys that kids really need. Paper, crayons, balls? That's more basic stuff we already have. Mr. Field Notes and I are really just big kids, so we've already got just about every basic type of toy I can think of. The only thing we really need from toy land for the next several years are wood blocks! Ha! I make it sound like we can get away with not buying toys for the next 4 years.