First, let me start off by saying you do NOT NEED toys for your baby. Babies are constantly learning from the environment. In fact, one of my daughter’s favorite things to do from about 2 months on has been to stare at our curtains or watch the faucet run. That being said, it is nice to have few things to use to entertain and promote development.
I compiled a list of my favorite toys I have purchased and how they are beneficial. I personally stay away from anything that is overstimulating at this age. That means no toys with lights or loud sounds. Your baby’s brain is developing and just needs simple sensory stimulation via different textures and contrasting colors.
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Rattle and Sensory Toy Teether
This is one of the first toys that my daughter began playing with. She was just about three months when I handed it to her, and immediately her little hands gripped around the pieces. What is good about this toy is that it has narrow spirals making it easy for little hands to hold. She was able to hold it with both hands and bring it up to her mouth. Babies are learning and exploring through their mouths, and again due to the narrow shape of the wires she was able to put one spiral at a time into her mouth. It is marketed as a teether toy and can also be refrigerated to help soothe baby gums. The rattle has a soft pleasant sound, so not too simulating for little ears (or for parent's ears as well). The only downside with this toy is that I find it difficult to clean. You cannot submerge it in water, which means no boiling. What I have done is take a soapy cloth and clean it ring by ring and then go over it with a wet cloth. Although a bit time consuming, it is not difficult, you just have to clean it regularly since it spends most of its time in your baby's mouth.
Developmental Bumpy Ball Toy
I recently bought this toy for my daughter, and she immediately took it from me with both hands. What I like about this particular toy is the various bumps around the outside to create different tactile experiences as well as the gentle rattle. This is a new toy in my household, so Emiliana is still exploring it, due to its size and shape I have to physically hand it to her. She is able to bat at it when she is laying on her back, as she grows older and stronger, she should be able to begin picking it up by herself.
Baby Einstein Activity mirror
I have been using this item with Emiliana since her first month. What I love about this toy is that it opens up so that it is a propped-up mirror. Furthermore, this mirror also catches a baby's attention every time they see their reflection in it. We utilize it for both, tummy time and side lying play. It also comes with a series of high contrast cards on a ring which are perfect for promoting your baby’s visual development. You can keep the cards hanging from the opposite side of the mirror or put them anywhere you want. For instance, we hang the cards on Emiliana’s bouncer.
Sophie the Giraffe
This has become a classic family favorite. We have our Sophie, which Emiliana enjoys very much. She holds her from the narrow parts, usually a leg or the neck and frequently brings Sophie to her mouth to explore/teeth. Sophie also makes a squeaking sound when squeezed. This is another toy that should not be submerged in water. I use the same method for cleaning this as I do for the rattle teether.
The Playgym by Lovevery
So, this play gym is definitely on the pricier side, but I personally think it is a great investment or an item that should be added to your baby registry. Lovevery uses Montessori based principles to promote appropriate development and learning experiences. I like that the mat is machine washable, a definite must as my daughter tends to drool on it during tummy time. It has 5 developmental sections that can be covered in order to avoid overstimulation. There are three different hanging pieces. The first one is a bell that has a circular handle, perfectly shaped for baby to grasp. The second one is a teething ring with a tissue paper like attachment. The third is a black/white high contrast ball. All three items can be removed, for instance the other day I removed the teething ring so that my daughter could explore and bring it to her mouth. What is also nice about this play gym is that there are spots at the top to put the high contrast cards provided so that your baby can look up at them during time on her/his back. I started using this gym within Emiliana’s first month of life. The first month, it was only about a few minutes a day as this was the amount of time she would tolerate being put down. Over the course of the past few months that time has greatly increased where Emiliana spends much of her awake time on the mat in various positions, (Supine, Prone or Side lying). I have seen her meet many milestones in this gym from accidently hitting and batting the hanging objects to now purposefully playing with them.
These are just a few of your favorite toys that we use in our household. A good toy works to promote development. Let me know if you have used any of these or what items your baby has enjoyed!