Tuesday, August 16, 2011

getting ready for baby: toys and activities

if you haven't read our previous "getting ready for baby" posts, you can catch them here:

if you are new to these posts, we just want to again mention: we're not experts...just mommies. if you have ideas that differ from ours, please share them. if you are a new mommy looking for some advice, here's what we've learned.

first of all, as a newborn, your baby won't play. they might look up at a mobile in their crib but they can't even see colors yet. look for things in black, white and red for your newborn to watch. that's about all the playing they'll be interested in for their first few weeks of life.

secondly, bear in mind that babies will play with anything. i lived in south america when my first three were born and we sometimes had to get creative with our toys. my oldest's favorite toy as a baby was a wooden spoon with ribbons tied to it. he also loved a string tied from the sides of his crib with little ribbons dangling down. toys don't have to be expensive. you'll learn as your children grow that you'll end up buying them the newest, greatest thing out there only to realize that they are much more interested in playing with the box it came in. don't kill yourself trying to find the newest and greatest thing. there will probably come a time when you'll look at all the crazy little noise making objects covering your living room and want to take a massive trip to the dump. save your sanity and don't overdo it.

thirdly, babies and toddlers do get bored. you'll end up getting gifts for your children's birthdays and holidays. grandparents will go overboard and you'll have more stuff than you know what to deal with. one of the greatest tips i learned as a new parent was to purchase large plastic tubs that can be stored at the top of a closet. i divided my baby's/toddler's toys up into those tubs and rotated them, taking one tub down each week or even each few days. what a difference that made! not only was i not overwhelmed with the toy clutter in my house but my toddler actually played with the toys i resurfaced. to your baby's little mind, it will be like christmas ever few days of the week...and it will cost you virtually nothing.

those three things being said, here's a list of some toys that we've enjoyed and used for our babies at various stages. some i wouldn't want to live without.

playmat/gym - this is one of those toys that i loved having for my infant babies. it was fabulous to lay my baby down for a few minutes and know they would be occupied and happy while i got some things done. a lot of them have music and other sounds as well as lights and a little mirror. the baby can be entertained again and again. they are more expensive than i anticipated as a new mommy but they were worth the price in the freedom they provided.
Baby Einstein Around The World Play Gym

tummy time mat - along those same lines, they have little tummy time mats for your infant. these are great as well. you can use the playmat/gym listed above for the same purpose but these have a convenient little pillow to prob your baby up for what is generally a tough time of the day.

bouncer - a bouncer is an amazing thing for a newborn and an infant. as a new mommy, you'll be looking for any place to put your baby down for a few minutes. you'll need to shower, use the bathroom, brush your teeth, make dinner, all those crazy things that are easier with two hands. a bouncer is the perfect place to put your baby. my kids loved the bouncers that vibrated them back to sleep and played a little lullaby. as they grew, they wanted one that had toys attached to a bar across the top so that they could be entertained. if you can find one with all of those options, pick it up.
Fisher-Price Infant-To-Toddler Rocker - Blue/Green

swing - my babies loved their swings and i in turn did as well. with our first born, he'd wake up in the morning too early for our sleepy standards but would sit happily in his swing for another 45 minutes until we could bring ourselves to deal with the day. they are also amazing for rocking your tired baby to sleep. with the little moving mobiles at the top and the music playing all the while, they are magic in box.

hanging toys - it's great to have a couple of hanging toys to attach to a portable car seat handle or a stroller. your baby will love having something that dangles for them to pat. it might also give you a few minutes of happy baby time while you're in the grocery store trying to check out.

Lamaze Mortimer the Moose

other infant toys - there are tons of great toys out there for your baby. you can choose from so many that it can seem overwhelming. here are some of our favorites.

Rhino Toys Oball Rattle (Colors May Vary)

as your baby grows, his or her needs will change. you'll need some toys to help they sit up, learn to stand, learn to walk, or just get tired out. here are some of the ones we love.

bumbo - once your child can hold his or her head up, you'll love having one of these little bumbo seats and the attachable tray. this can keep your baby comfortably sitting wherever you may be. my babies loved to sit and watch me cook in the kitchen. i could chop veggies and they could sit, watching, playing with toys i'd place on their tray, carefully away from the little hands of brothers and sisters.
Bumbo Baby Seat - Lime

Bumbo Play Tray - Ivory

musical play table - as your baby grows, a scary thing will take place. they will become mobile and will pull themselves up to standing. yes, it's wonderful. your baby is progressing, motor skills are developing, and they will start to get into everything! save yourself some trouble and but a toy they can enjoy while one their own two feet. this won't save you from finding a wii remote in the toilet on occasion but it will perhaps cut down on the frequency.
LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table

exersaucer - immobile entertainment...in a word, perfection. these things are amazing. they are bulky, not very attractive and you'll wonder why you didn't purchase one for each room. once your baby can hold his or her head up and are tall enough to reach the bottom of the exersaucer with their feet, they are ready to enjoy one of these. the seats rotate so baby has 360 degrees of fun. the greatest part? you can put your baby in one of these and come back in ten minutes and they'll still be there.
Baby Einstein Around The World Discovery Center

jumper - jumpers crack me up. my kids generally have loved these and i have loved watching them bounce up and down and get so tired that they literally fall asleep jumping. i have pictures and video...cutest things ever. this toy will tire your baby out. enough said.
Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo

other toys - again, the options here are endless. find some simple toys your baby will love and stick with those. my kids were all suckers for music so most of our toys revolve around one song or another. they are also obsessed with phones. buying play phones will inevitably save your real one at some point.
Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Phone

walker/ride-on - as your baby grows in mobility, they'll want something that can aid them as they learn to walk. walkers really are wonderful and you'll find your little one scooting all over the house attached to one of these.
Fisher-Price Stride-To-Ride Lion

play gate - you may not need something like this but i've found that it is super helpful. if you use it indoors, you can put some toys inside and know that your baby will be safely playing while you get some things done. it is big enough to keep older brothers and sisters safely away from a playing baby as well. if you take it outdoors, lay down a large blanket and place the gate on top of the blanket. my kids love playing outside and this was a great opportunity for the baby to enjoy play time outdoors as well.
Friendly Toys Little Playzone with Sounds and Lights

i hope this is helpful. again, in this area, there are so many options that i'm sure i've missed someone's favorite out there. if you have one you feel you could not live without, let us know. we'd love to pass the information along!


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