Baby and Play is a brand new independent toy shop located in Bedford's Town Centre, just tucked away in Castle Lane behind the High Street (opposite Spaghetti Johns). It's been trading for about 10 weeks, but owners (and parents of 5!) Kirstie Williams and her partner Adam Share are in the midst of exciting shop renovations which will result in a much bigger shop floor come the autumn. While renovations happen the shop will still be trading, but be prepared for an even more exciting place to shop with your kids later this year...!
As it stands currently Baby and Play is still absolutely the most child-centred, fun and parent-friendly toy shop I've ever visited. Usually, visiting a toy shop with the kids in tow is an absolute nightmare - they want to touch/lick/buy everything and I want a glass of wine two minutes after stepping over the threshold! Usually, I end up rushing in, making a super-swift decision and then attempting to get out without bankrupting myself.
This wasn't an issue at Baby and Play - here the focus is on the kids playing and exploring without being told "don't touch" there are a range of toys out on the shop floor specifically meant for the kids to enjoy playing with, plus there's a colouring table for them to sit at and a magnetic easel and magnets for them to explore. Soon there will be a wider range of toys to play with and even free snacks on offer. Long term they also plan to hold little activities and classes to amuse your wee ones while you shop. Genius!
Adam and Kirstie clearly know what parents want and kids need, as parents to five children it's no surprise they've managed to create such a brilliant space.
Connie loved exploring all the toys!
The range of toys available is pretty impressive too - everything you'd need for a baby right through to older kids. Stunning ranges from soft, wooden and construction toys, through to recognisable characters such as Mr Tumble, Peter Rabbit, In The Night Garden etc.
And she got stuck in playing with all the toys they had available for little ones to enjoy!
One of my favourite parts of the shop was the concept of the 'pocket money range' - lots of very reasonably priced small items perfect for little treats or pocket money spending such as 8 small animal figures for £1.00, individual wooden (Breo-style) trains for £2.50 each, sticker sheets etc. As a parent there's nothing more frustrating than heading to a toy shop/toy department to find there's nothing for under £5...we all know it's hard to get out the door without a little treat for your mini people, so hooray for affordable little items and CHOICE!
Bert found a new friend in the toy shop!
Bert, Connie and I happily spent a whole hour in there last week - Bert came away with some gorgeous re-usable sticker sets from Melissa & Doug (one of our favourite toy brands) and Connie bagged herself a brilliant set of B.Toys One Two Squeeze Blocks, which quiet frankly couldn't be a better toy for her at almost 14 months. The 10 blocks are stackable, squeezable, floatable, squeakable and chewable...they're perfect for her chubby little hands and her ever-increasing collection of toothy pegs (teething SUCKS doesn't it?). The blocks are all different colours with lovely little pictures of animals and numbers from 1-10. They retail at £12.95 and would make the best first birthday present if you have any coming up...
B. Toys One Two Squeeze Blocks - in their own little zip up carry case with handle!
A little handle making this the perfect little toy for travelling!
A very happy baby with her new blocks!
Life is tiring when you're 14 months and have lots of toys to enjoy!
Retrieving a block from under the chair - playing with the cat because (of course!) the cat loves them too!
Mid block chuck! We love an action shot at Chez Bishop
The Melissa and Doug Puffy Sticker Activity books (£4.99 for the Safari set & £5.99 for the Equestrian set - Bert's choices, but there is a massive variety available) make the most amazing summer holiday activities. I love the fact that the stickers are re-usable, meaning they'll definitely last the whole of the holidays, and they're a completely portable activity - making them great for travelling and holidays too.
Bert's re-usable sticker handiwork - he got the hang of it straight away!
Busy Bert with his new sticker books
As well as their brilliant bricks and mortar store, you can also shop online with Baby and Play, meaning that my readers who aren't local to Bedford can still shop with this fab independent store with their marvellous range of toys, baby items and bags.
We can't wait for our next visit and we're especially excited to see the all new shop interior come the autumn!