When a Fisher Price Smart Stages chair arrived in the post two weeks ago, I suddenly realised I needed a reason to give it to my toddler. New toys arrive at Christmas and on birthdays, but not so much during the rest of the year. Perhaps it’s my 1980s upbringing, or not wanting to set a precedent, or maybe I’m just a mean mammy, but I don’t like giving the kids big gifts for no reason. So I decided that it would be his reward for giving up his soother – a heretofore unplanned event, but he’s nearly three, so it was a perfect opportunity (says me – he might disagree)
There was huge excitement taking it out of the box and putting it together – you do need a screwdriver to put on part of the base, which was a slight inconvenience, but apart from that, it was very simple to assemble. It’s bright and yellow and very friendly looking – the toddler was enthralled. We had no suitable batteries in the house at the time, but he didn’t mind. As a third child, he doesn’t have a huge number of toys that are just his, so this was a big deal – a chair that was just for him.
He carried it into the sitting room and set up in his TV spot – he usually sits on a cushion on the floor, but the cushion has been relegated now that he has a shiny new chair. The seat of the chair lifts up, so it’s perfect for hiding toys, hosting treasure hunts and concealing stolen biscuits. There are buttons on one arm, for choosing Smart Stages levels, and a book (with plastic pages) on the other arm. We felt bad about the battery situation, so took some out of another toy to get it up and running for him. “My chair singing now!” was his delighted reaction as he got stuck into pushing the buttons.
The idea behind Smart Stages is that there are different levels for different ages. You choose your baby’s age in months, and the sounds, songs, nursery rhymes and instructions are age appropriate. My toddler changed the age constantly himself and didn’t seem to mind whether he was listening to the output intended for a six-month-old or a two-year-old. He sang along and clapped and danced and hid raisins in the seat and was truly delighted with himself and his very own chair.
The batteries we borrowed ran out pretty quickly, so for another week or so, we were back to a silent chair. The toddler pressed the buttons trying to make it sing, resulting in the numbers rubbing of completely, but other than that he was pretty content with his silent chair, while waiting for his useless parents to sort out the battery situation. And actually, that’s what I like most about the chair – even without the singing and the interaction, it’s a great toy – my toddler had a real sense of having his very own piece of furniture, in his very own corner of the room. It’s become his go-to place for stashing treasures or watching TV or just taking a rest after tough day chasing his sisters and breaking their Barbies.
So when we finally got it powered up again, and he was back to singing his ABCs, it was an added bonus more than a sense of having missed out on a key aspect of the toy.
Would I recommend it? Yes definitely. If I was buying it, I’d probably get it for a younger child so as to get maximum use out of it over the years, but having said that, my little boy isn’t going to suddenly stop using it when he turns three in a couple of months. For one thing, he doesn’t know all his nursery rhymes yet (that’ll be the third child syndrome again) and secondly, he’s very attached to it now as his own special chair.
It’s more than a toy – at least it is in our house – it has literally become part of the furniture. And bonus points – the bribe worked – no more daytime dodie. Fisher Price Smart Stages has been a winner all round.
Disclaimer: I received a Fisher Price Chair for the purpose of this review but I wasn’t paid to write it and all opinions are my own.