As a first time parent of the most incredible creature to ever walk this Earth--my fourteen month old daughter, Kiera--I am perpetually amazed by the simplicity and inexpensiveness of the objects and experiences that capture and hold her interest. Like most new dads, I am prone to compulsive toy shopping. I don't always buy but I certainly go shopping at my local toy store, Tree Top Toys, much more often than I did before Kiera RTW'd last August. With few exceptions, Kiera prefers *my* stuff to the stuff I buy her. If I'm holding something, if it smells like me, if looks like it might be "m-i-n-e", moves in a certain way, and in general emits some sort of light or sound, especially when unexpected, Kiera waaaants it. She muuuuust have it.

Although I'm a Luddite compared to many of my friends at Microsoft, Kiera is nonetheless surrounded by techie artifacts, new and old. Here are a few of her favorite techie toddler toys in rank order:

  1. Blank CDs -- Durable mirror, rainbow-maker, chew toy, mirror, non-swallowable, non-abrasive, non-cutting, and CHEAP, blank CDs are a hit with the techie toddler. Disassembled harddrives are cool but I wouldn't recommend them for safety reasons.
  2. Wired Mice -- Durable, wiggly, pet like, non-swallowable, and c'mon, you're looking for an excuse to upgrade to that snazzy, new wireless Microsoft mouse anyway. If your mouse is optical, plug it into your USB port and watch it light up with your toddler for bonus points. Note: you may want to swab your mouse down with an antiseptic swab before handing it off to a toddler.
  3. USB adapters -- you know, the short ones that convert OS2 to USB. My toddler has three and she routinely trades one in for the next (like binkys) for teething.
  4. Empty Monitor Boxes -- Again, you're looking for an excuse to buy a new flatscreen monitor. Sell your 20" trinitron at a garage sale and put that huge box to good use. I covered my old monitor box with white presentation paper, cut out a doorway and a window, and presented it to Kiera as a life-sized dollhouse. She LOVES it.
  5. Keyboards -- to my toddler, blessed be, my old Microsoft keyboard is almost as cool as my new Toshiba laptop...almost. Keyboards are a cheap diversion and if nothing else, they give you an excuse to buy that new Microsoft natural keyboard you've been promising your wife since Christmas in 2002.
  6. Cellphones -- My toddler loves to carry around my cellphone (and drop it in the tub!) and put it up to her head like her mommy does. I've been meaning to buy a less expensive alternative to my Audiovox Smartphone for Kiera, which by the way dried out quite nicely.
  7. Bluetooth Ear Bud -- Whereas Kiera has not yet figured out how to hold my SmartPhone against her head properly for cooing conversations with her grandmother and grandfather, my Siemens bluetooth earbud is lightweight enough to hang on her ear for five or six seconds of cooing before she removes it. Great toy but a little on the expensive side. I should also note that Kiera would use my unit as a chew toy if I were to allow her to do so. Be advised: although your earbud is yucky ducky tasting, it is almost irresistible as a chew toy and definitely too small for comfort. If you share, do as I do, watch carefully and have an alternative techie toy on hand to replace it with if your toddler becomes too attached to it.
  8. Retractable badge holder -- You know, zippy little things. Kiera loves to marvel at how quickly the badge holder retracts into its casing when she lets it go. She loves it when it snaps my fingers even more. For a less painful, less swallowable, but arguably less safe alternative is a conventional tape measure.
  9. Remote controls -- Toddlers love to turn things on an off, especially if they emit a momentary flash of bright red light. Kiera is especially fond of the one for the fans in my condo and digital camera. At fourteen months of age, the TV remote is still off limits.
  10. CPU Fans -- As noted, Kiera loves fans, as I'm sure most toddlers of her age do. The movement is rhythmic and soothing, I think. Assuming you hide and secure the electrical input, a CPU fan whirs like no other and since it's encased, is safe for little, probing toddler fingers.