this thing's incredible

This Goofy Plastic Bowl Has Replaced All Other Toys in My 6-, 4- and 2-Year-Old’s Toy Box

Photo: Lauren Crosby

My boys are ages 6, 4, and 2, and love anything that can be thrown, smashed, or built. From the stairs, to the floors, and on each surface of our house, there are balls, cars, action figures, and trains. But their room still bursts with toys they never touch — the noisy, battery-operated Peppa Pig car from Auntie Hannah, the enormous Paw Patrol boat from Grandpa, and the broken remote-control cars we bought them at Christmas. Two years ago, looking around our house, I grew frustrated with all the clutter, and guilty over all the wasted money that was spent when they didn’t play with certain toys longer than a day.

I began to hunt for a toy that was durable, fun, and timeless — that would also satisfy kids from ages 2 to 6. I flicked through endless toy reviews on Amazon, scoured Pinterest for “top toys that won’t grow old,” and followed #MontessoriToys on Instagram. Then, I came across a brightly coloured, dome-shaped plastic bowl on Amazon — the Bilibo. The reviews were great, but what decided it was that it didn’t make a sound (and didn’t need batteries). I ordered one in a cheerful shade of orange. When it arrived in the post, I had a slight wobble. What was I thinking, buying a bowl for my kids to play with?

My fears subsided when my boys opened their shared present on Christmas morning — the blindingly bright, orange Bilibo. One by one, they took turns jumping on it, spinning, wearing, and banging it, each amused by its possibilities for play. As the Bilibo (or the ‘big, orange bowl’ as my sons call it) is made of hard plastic, there is no chance of breaking it. It can hold the weight of my 6-year-old when he turns it upside down and uses it to balance on one foot. When playing dress-up, my 4-year-old places it on his head as a fireman’s hat. If cars are out, the 2-year-old makes use of the Bilibo’s wavy edge which allows it to be used as a tunnel or bridge for cars to race under and over.

They all work together to transfer stuffed animals in it from room to room. And kitchen spoons are pounded against it to create a musical beat when we have dance parties. The holes on its side have small items like buttons or ribbon pressed through them. But by far, it is most used as a spinning seat — they plop their bums into the Bilibo ‘bowl’ and use pent up energy to propel them round and round. And it doesn’t have batteries — a lifesaver for the noise level in our bustling home.

MOLUK – a Swiss company – are behind the Bilibo’s genius design. Their focus is creating toys that are simple, durable, and explorative. Since buying the Bilibo, we also purchased another one of their creations, the Oogie. These stretchy, people-shaped figures, have suction hands, feet, and head that stick to any hard surface.

Some other Strategist-approved, noise-free toys

This stacking rainbow was recommended to us by the author of TheDadLab, Sergei Urban. He told us, “There are an incredible number of ways you can play with it.” For younger children, the rainbow can be used as a classic stack-and-sort–style toy, while older children can incorporate the arches into imaginative play.

“No family home is complete without Play-Doh — for the best smell and brightest colours, you can’t beat it,” says Sarah Ockwell-Smith, author of The Gentle Parenting Book. This super-colour pack is a great Play-Doh starter kit and even helps build “dexterity skills,” says Julie Elliott from the Royal Society of Blind Children.

Photo-Illustration: retailer

Much like Play-Doh, no kid’s toy box is complete without some LEGOs. When we reached out to experts about the best LEGO sets, two of our experts said kids especially loved the brand’s Friends line (which refers not to the television series but to the five LEGO friends that the settings are built for). This kit in particular comes with 222 pieces including LEGO money, flowers, and even cupcakes.

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My 6-Year-Old Prefers This Plastic Bowl to All Other Toys