By peoplestaff225
Updated June 25, 2008 06:00 AM

The mod style has taken over the world of baby gear and bedding over the last year or two, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Licensed cartoon characters and footballs just aren’t our thing, and while I love my sons dearly I also love when their ‘stuff’ is able to blend in with the decor of our home, at least somewhat. So I was pretty pleased when I learned that Early Years by International Playthings had unveiled a new collection of infant toys that let you carry over the mod look to the playroom. They make a great new baby gift for an expectant friend who isn’t yet sold on all things baby.

I love the Pull ‘N Peek Photo Fun ($17; 6M+; Shown at right) for a working mom. When our eldest, Owen, started daycare at 6-months-old he had a really hard time, until I taped a big picture of mom and dad to the wall near his crib. I was so relieved when his caregivers told us how looking at the picture instantly soothed him after dropoff, and to this day — four years later — he keeps a picture of us in his cubby at preschool. The Pull ‘N Peek Photo Fun is a great soft toy for infants because it’s so soft and easy to use. A pull-up handle reveals an inside compartment where you can store two photos, and a motion-activated squeaker keeps babies interested. The mod fabrics are soft and muted, and the Pull ‘N Peek Photo Fun features lots of different textures for good sensory stimulation. There’s even space for a third photo on the outside of the toy. It’s the perfect size — big enough that the photos are easy to spot but small enough that you can easily stash it in a diaper bag, if you’re packing up baby for some time away.

Oliver Octopus ($20; shown at intro of review)and First Fuzzy Friends ($17; shown at left)are two toys in this product line recommended for newborns and up. They’re full of sweet, soothing (for bleary-eyed new moms, at the very least) colors like aqua, mocha and sky blue and the fabrics are plush. Oliver Octopus comes ready to travel, courtesy of an included link you can hook on to strollers, car seats, diaper bags and more. A stretchy tether means that Oliver Octopus is super fun to bat at; Turn the toy over, and you’ll find a mirror panel which opens and closes. See-through panels reveal a rattling fish inside Oliver’s head and each of his springy legs has a different texture, from corduroy to satin. The First Fuzzy Friends are a mod lovers dream; It’s easy to imagine them hanging off the handle of a Dwell diaper bag. You can link the series of animal buddies together, or break them apart. The elephant has crinkly ears and a soft, smooth texture like the bunny, while the turtle features a variety of sweet mod prints and textures. Each First Fuzzy Friend offers a different rattle sound, so there’s a nice variety among the three.

Finally, our youngest would have loved the Wiggly Twist ($13; 3M+; shown at right); He loved all toys that vibrated while he was an infant, and the Wiggly Twist does not disappoint. It has an easy grab rattle ring at one end, and a soft tactile bumpy teether at the other. You pull both ends apart to activate the automatic ‘wiggle’ that will fascinate and captivate your baby. It is ultra portable, attaching to diaper bags and strollers with a standard clip, and again — in nice, prints like polka dots and repetitive florals that are in keeping with the mod style.

If bright, loud, flashing infant toys leave you feeling overstimulated, imagine what it’s like for your baby. There’s a better option in Early Years infant toys. Offering soft and soothing fabrics, textures and sounds, these toys are a delight both to play with and to look at. To see the full product line, and for links to purchase, click here.