I have a Mama confession, we didn't really have any toys for our son when he was born. We had some stuffed animals, and of course books...but one of the things we didn't get at the baby shower were toys. My son was born right before Christmas so Santa brought a couple of fun things but for the most part we didn't have much for him. This lack of baby entertainment became a much bigger issue when my husband went back to work and I was at home, alone, with the baby. I soon found myself confronting the infant toy section and I was a little lost...There wasn't all that much being offered in the 0-3 months range either. What would he find amusing and what would also be stimulating? What toys would grow with him and be his friends longer than a couple of months?
These are some of the questions I asked before I bought a baby toy:
1. How long is he going to be able to play with this toy? Is he going to out grow it quickly or will it grow with him and provide multiple months of fun?
2. What types of stimulation does this toy provide? Not all toys are as stimulating as others. Play time should be fun but it should also be educational. Does this toy have lots of colors (sight), textures (touch), make noise (hearing), require manipulation (cause and effect, hand eye cordination)?
3. Can I/ How do I clean this toy? Babies slobber, they spit up, and yes...poop happens....Can I sanitize this toy they way it should be sanitized? Can I put it in the washing machine or dishwasher?
4. How easy is this toy to transport? Is it easy to throw in the diaper bag or car to take with us?
5. How easy is this toy to store? Can I throw it in a basket or fold it up in a closet?
6. Is the cost of this toy equitable with the amount of time it can be used? Does it require batteries?
What I found in my research is that many baby toys look great but when put to the test they just don't make sense financially. It also baffles me how many baby toys are difficult to clean. There are a few toys that I found simply by having my son in the store with me and seeing if I got a positive reaction from him when I presented it to him. Now if you have time I also suggest reading parent reviews of products before you buy. Sometimes, not always, someone will mention a negative aspect of the toy that you did not consider or that would not work for you.
Here are some toys I have found very useful and that my son loves:
*The toy name is a link to the toy in Amazon.
Sassy Wrist/Ankle Rattles: This toy helps the baby become aware of their feet and hands. The noise catches their attention through hearing and the image captures their sight. Although this toy is said to be for the wrists I have put them around my sons ankles when he is in his car seat to entertain him. He likes hearing them when he kicks.
Infantino Barn Babies Teething Toy: I personally love this toy and the noise it makes. My son loves the noise as well and has gotten many smiles and giggles. The teething rings on the feet of the toy make it a great transitional toy. It also different textures and many colors. My son really enjoys exploring this toy (it too has crinkle material in the arms) and it is also great for redirecting behavior and attention.
Tummy Time/Back Time Activity Center by Fisher Price: There are a lot of tummy time and activity mats out there. They also range greatly in price. I chose this mat because the piano will flip up when my son is able to sit up and play. The toys (except the mirror) come off so that you can take them along. My son loves kicking the piano both on his tummy and on his back. When he is bored with tummy time I can flip the overhead activity bar down so that he has the toys on the floor with him and he can still see himself in the mirror. The mat is also machine washable. This mat had the greatest longevity of the mats I looked at and has been very entertaining for my son.
1-2-3 Crawl Snail by Fisher Price: This is a very fun toy! When my son is doing tummy time he is able to see himself in the mirror and when the snail is bumped (even gently) the face lights up and it starts to sing. This toy give baby a lot of incentive to reach out and touch it encouraging both hand eye coordination and crawling. When the snail is tapped from the front or back it rolls away. This makes my son giggle and positively challenges him to go after it!
Nuby Teethers: The teethers are marked to be for 6 months plus, however, my son started having a chewing need at 3 months. At 4 months I found these and let him give them a try. You be the judge of weather of not your child is ready for them earlier than what is suggested on the package. There are a couple great features about these theethers. One of the best features is that they come in a plastic carrying case to help keep it clean. They offer multiple textures for chewing and two different thicknesses (the yellow is softer and the orange harder) for chewing stimulation. The hand shaped one is great I am able to replace my sons hand for the toy! They are easy to hold and the ring allows me to put a leash on it so that we do not loose it!!! They were inexpensive and so far well worth it!!!
Taggies Peek-A- Boo Blanket: Let me start with this: We have two of these...the Buddy the Pat a Pup and Boo-Boo the Cuddle a Cub (which was purchased while on vacation as a replacement for Buddy who was accidentally left in the dryer at home). To say my son loves this blanket is an understatement. He likes to rub his nose in the softness, he likes to cuddle with it, and he likes sucking and chewing on the ribbons around the edge. Traveling in the car, nap time, and new experiences are not quite as smooth or peaceful with out his Taggie Blanket. The instructions say not to put it in the washer or dryer....I wash it on cold and dry it on low heat and it is just fine...don't forget and leave it in the dryer while on vacation though...=)