I used to kind of feel like a jerk buying my daughter expensive, frequently organic toys from Europe. The jerky feeling came from my awareness that these purchases were mostly inspired by aesthetic snobbery, but I consoled myself with the knowledge that, while I was protecting my daughter (and my living room) from bad design, I was also keeping her out of the clutches of the Dora/Elmo/Disney Princess commercial-industrial complex. (As far as I know, this little guy still doesn’t have his own TV show, nor have I seen his face on breakfast cereal, toothpaste, or outerwear). Now that we know that all the colorful plastic made in China is poison, I am even more determined to stay wooden.
Recently, Ted decided that Frances might enjoy a little table with a couple of chairs. We wanted something that was not a hulking, primary-colored, petroleum-based, and lead-riddled eyesore. We also wanted something that didn’t cost $150 or more. Thus, baby’s first trip to IKEA. We ended up choosing Lätt, a very plain, very nice little wooden table-and-chairs combo that set us back a mere $19.99.
Most of my previous trips to IKEA occurred while I was single, and all of them while I was childless, so I had never gone looking for toys before (I was looking, rather, for furniture and fixtures that would seem cool in the store but would kind of look like junk in my apartment. I pretty much always found exactly what I was looking for.) I was very pleased with what we found. In addition to the table and chairs, we picked up a few more wooden and cloth toys that cost substantially less than similar items I’ve considered at online boutiques that cater to hipster parents. It was nice to find a source for toys that falls somewhere between Wal-Mart and babygeared. And I hope that all the umlauts, lingonberries, and clean lines helped Frances to connect with her Swedish heritage.