I was contacted recently to be asked if I would like to review the Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Puppy from Fisher Price. It is billed as a Baby education toy.
I’m a bit mixed on this item to be honest. I have very few electronic toys in the house. I feel that they turn the children into zombies – just pressing the same button over and over again. The electronic toys we do have are ones that the children do seem to engage well with. But, despite my initial reservations I decided we would accept the review and test it out.
We have had it a good few weeks now and it’s left me with mixed feeling. The site claims that the ‘Smart Stages technology gives you the ability to select the stage that’s best for your child. There are a variety of developmentally appropriate songs, phrases and sounds within three levels of play.’
The level of play is changed by pressing the puppy’s foot, it’s a slightly longer press than the other general things require, but Daniel at just over two years old has worked out how to change the stage. So it isn’t always set to the stage that the packaging tells me is appropriate to his age.
Level 3 (18+ months) is imaginative fun and early role play. I can’t really say Daniel has done this. The puppy talks about acting like various animals (swing like a monkey in a tree) It also asks ‘what’s that noise’ and plays quacks and roars. Daniel tells me it’s a duck when it quacks but he certainly doesn’t act like any of the animals or identify the other animal sounds. He just presses the various things to get it to make a sound. I think the reason is that it doesn’t give Daniel time to do the things it’s asking. It sings a song about acting like animals but goes quickly from one animal to another. I don’t think many 18 month year olds can quickly respond to the things it’s asking – I’d probably struggle to respond as quickly as it wants!
When Daniel has let Emma get near the dog she hasn’t really seemed that interested to be honest. She has pressed the red heart on the dog’s tummy and clapped when it’s made a noise to her, but there certainly isn’t any interaction with it.
On the positive side… the dog is a nice size and Daniel was really excited when it arrived, giving it lots of cuddles. I have left it in the play area of the house the past few weeks, tidied away with the other toys at the end of the day and Daniel has searched it out, so it is engaging to him. He was also very excited to show it to his daddy when he got home from work.
Despite Daniel acting a bit like a zombie the first few days with this and endlessly pressing it, he has started to interact more with it, although I have had to prompt this.
Also, you can turn it off (hurrah!) younger children probably wouldn’t be able to switch it back on (it require the foot press that you change the level with). The songs that it sings are pretty catchy and after hearing them once or twice I was able to sing them to Daniel, telling him what the puppy was asking him to do. The voice is also clear and sings some nice well-known songs (if you’re happy and you know it, pat a cake pat a cake) and well as some new ones so we have been able to sing along to the songs using the puppy as a prompt which has had a novelty factor I guess for Daniel as he has enjoyed doing this, and Emma has enjoyed joining in too.
And, the main thing I suppose is that Daniel really likes this dog, he has wanted to take it to bed, but we have agreed it stays downstairs (I don’t fancy hearing it singing away in the middle of the night!) plus the batteries have lasted well (and showing no signs of running low yet despite three weeks of good use).
So, all in all a winner with Daniel, but some mixed views from me.
You can buy this smart stages puppy from Argos and it’s on offer at the moment. Despite my initial reservations about this laugh and learn puppy, Daniel is pretty engaged with it and it has added a different dimension into our play, using the songs the puppy sings as a prompt.