When I was expecting my first baby, I had so much fun buying baby things! Each item was researched ad nauseum, compared, considered and chosen with care. One purchase category got extra time and effort: toys. Of course, I wanted my baby to have the best.
I was influenced strongly by natural parenting circles and wanted to avoid both having too many toys and as little plastic as possible. Therefore, we assembled a small collection of beautiful, mostly wooden, lovely-on-the-eyes toys.
And then, my baby mostly wasn’t interested in them.
You know what she was interested in? My phone. The remote. My keys. The cat. Daddy’s shoes. The ceiling fan. In other words, my baby was mostly interested in everyday objects. Turns out that most babies are.
As a professional in birth, pregnancy and all things baby, today I’m often asked what kind of toys new parents (or the friends and families of new parents) should buy.
Here’s a short list of some ideas:
1. Newborns don’t need toys or structured playtime. Newborns need to be held, almost constantly, talked to, engaged with, sung to and LOVE nothing more than staring into your face adoringly. These are their first steps in learning to be a human.
Recommendation: a comfortable, high quality baby carrier like this from Girasol.
2. As your baby becomes an infant, they’ll appreciate some time on the floor. This will give them time and space to work on those important developmental milestones like rolling over. They may also enjoy looking at different objects on the floor – nothing special needed but fun to have a few high contrast items or toys.
Recommendation: Check out LovEvery
3. Babies who have learned to grasp and hold objects will enjoy household items, like wooden spoons, and objects with texture, like knitted toys, or toys that emit interesting sounds (like rattles). They will especially enjoy anything they can put in their mouths!
Recommendation: Wooden Teether from NovaNaturals
4. Crawling babies love to seek out and interact with objects. While you experiment to uncover her preferences, consider purchasing items with a long life span – wooden blocks, for instance, are enjoyed by children of all ages!
Recommendation: Classic Alphabet Blocks like these
5. Babies who can sit up, pull up and stand or even walk love pulling and pushing toys. Walkers are popular at this age but have a limited shelf life. Wagons, doll strollers and small scoot bikes may be enjoyed for longer.
Recommendation: A wooden scooter or doll wagon (bonus if baby can fit herself into it too!
6. Baby’s First Christmas? Looking for a special gift from grandparents? Toddlers LOVE to play little grown ups in a play kitchen.
EXTRA BONUS: Find a secondhand one, put it in your yard and make it into a MUD KITCHEN.
One more thought: babies and children need safe spaces to play and explore without getting into danger, trouble or being told “no.” Consider building a “yes space” just for them in your home. Here’s more on that concept from child expert Janet Lansbury.
Babies, toddlers and older children learn through play.
Remember that even if you don’t buy a single thing on this list, your baby will have just as much (if not more) fun playing with simple, ordinary objects in your home or yard, too.
You might also be interested in our blog post: The Best Baby Registry – Advice from a Postpartum Doula.