Um, perfect much? This is the best thing I found. It is the Busy Zoo Activity Center, and it's $57 down from $100, and I could have it shipped free which I would not expect for something nearly SEVENTEEN POUNDS. But I already bought part of Niestle's present and was looking for something more in the $10-$20 range, and also this is a big thing to buy for someone else's household. I'd get this for my own kid, though, if I had a kid the right age. This would be perfect for a tummy-time-aged baby, perfect for a sitting baby, perfect for a pulling-to-standing baby. And I'm always looking for toys with lots to do but NO PIECES TO SCATTER AND LOSE.
I've mentioned the Melissa and Doug Shape-Sorting Clock before. I like it because it's fun for kids who like clocks AND kids who like puzzles AND kids who like numbers. This is a nice price, too: $10 down from $15. This is best for the kind of household where someone finds all the pieces before putting a toy away, rather than the kind of household where eventually the toy has two pieces in place and the others are scattered across four or five rooms. Ahem.
The Melissa and Doug Picnic Basket ($15 down from $20) is a strong contender. Jonniker has a 9-month-old daughter and mentioned that this was on Samantha's wish list, reminding me that the 9-month-old stage is big on putting things in and dumping things out, with an emphasis on dumping things out and perhaps also an emphasis on fussing until someone ELSE puts them back in.
Jonniker and I are also both considering the Manhattan Toy Put and Peek Birdhouse for the 9-month-olds we know. This toy is not on any kind of sale at all as of posting (still $22), but OMG TEH BIRDIES.
My mom has the LeapFrog Fridge Farm and we have the similar LeapFrog Wash & Go, and they're both GREAT. Too old for my niece, I think, but a lot of fun for toddlers. If you put the animals/vehicles together correctly it sings one song, and if you put them together crazy it sings a silly song. They're called "Fridge" because they have strong magnets to attach both the unit and the pieces to the refrigerator, which is nice if you're trying to get TWO SECONDS to
The Radio Flyer Wagon! $30 down from $50 AND free shipping!
The Skwish doesn't look like much for $12, but it was one of the most enduring and played-with baby toys we owned. Durable, too: made it through five babies without looking worse for wear. It's a teether! It's a rattle! It's a hypnotizing toy for Mommy to play with!
The Winkel is a similar choice: why oh why is it TWELVE DOLLARS? It seems like it should be about FIVE! And yet it is worth EVERY DOLLAR, and I saved mine after the last kid outgrew it because otherwise I'd end up spending ANOTHER twelve dollars if I ever had another baby. It was the first toy my firstborn reached for, and they all teethed vigorously on it. Silly name and not cheap, but worth it.
Speaking of silly names, Melissa and Doug's, um, Jumbo Knob Puzzles. There are a whole bunch of these (pets, barnyard, vehicles, etc.--just search for Melissa and Doug and, um, jumbo knob) marked from $15 down to $9. Although, now that I'm looking more closely, I see that other sellers have the starting price at $9-10, so that $15 starting price may be a teeny bit overstated.
These Nest and Stack buckets look terrific: a shape sorting toy AND a nesting/stacking toy. Plus, I'll bet the larger buckets would make good barf buckets later on! A bit small perhaps. Well, let's not turn our minds to it.