So now you have your beautiful new bundle of joy! Congratulations! Off you go back to your home, or in my case, my second son came so fast I never left home. You are thrilled, in awe of how beautiful this new life is. Everyone calls and tells you how spectacular being a parent will be. Only the finest things are in her nursery. A solid, safe crib, sturdy changing table, comfy rocker, fresh paint, and plenty of blankets and diapers are all marked off the check list, but what about a few toys? You may be wondering if a newborn baby even needs toys. Whether or not you feel she does, the following list of toys should stay posted on any new parent's fridge. Several of these toys may even let you put your feet up and catch a cat nap! Trust me, take those while you can!
MOBILE: Studies show that a newborn can see approximately 8 inches away, and even though this is not enough distance to see a mobile hung above a crib, by the time she is one month old, she will be able to follow objects from left to right at a longer distance. Utilizing a mobile will not only tantalize her sense of sight, but modern mobiles also play music or turn. If an expensive contemporary mobile is not your style, there are many ways to make your own mobile from simple items. Please do make sure your homemade mobile is safe, of course.
PLAY MAT: A play mat is a great place for tummy-time. Tummy-time helps strengthen back and neck muscles and develops coordination. Many play mats today are made with bright colors and varying fabrics to help catch your baby's eye. Some have different textures, attachable toys, and even swimming fish! Don't just let your angel have her tummy time on boring old carpet. Choose inviting primary colors and soft fabrics. Plus, the convenience and portability of play mats are an added bonus!
PICTURE BOOK: Sharing a book of attractive and colorful pictures with your new baby is a wonderful activity! Though it is easy to just buy one from the toy store, personalizing your pictures or creating a story to read for your baby is even better! Visit an online store to make your own photo book with descriptive captions that turn your pictures into an adventure. By using family photos, this can help your baby learn the identification of those that will visit her soon. I did this with my children every day and by the time they were around six months they could recognize the grandparents when they came to visit.
FINGER PUPPETS: When our first son was born, my husband practiced counting with him every day. He would hold up his fingers, count one through five, and had a lot of fun. Though hands and fingers can be fascinating on their own to a newborn, taking a marker and drawing a silly face on your finger turns them into characters! Get fancy with making your own finger puppets out of fun fabrics and add-ons like plastic eyeballs or yarn for hair. Even aluminum foil can make a great tin man finger! If the thought of getting crafty terrifies you, shop for finger puppets online or at a local toy store. One word of caution, start with just one puppet at a time. Using all five finger puppets at once may startle your little bundle!
SOFT RATTLE: Even though your baby cannot pick up and hold objects on her own just yet, she can grasp fairly well. Mothers who forget to put their hair up know this already! By placing a soft rattle in her hand and giving it a little shake, this will help teach her cause and effect. "If I move this, it will make a noise." Using an older wooden or plastic rattle is fine, too. However, through my experience, the softer, fabric rattles leave less of a bump on the head when baby inadvertently jerks the rattle. For a shaking twist on the classic rattle, look for rattle booties or wrist rattles! These are great for when your baby is in the car seat riding through town.
ROCKER/SWING: The soothing baby swing should be made in adult sizes! Out of all the toys, this really is a MUST in my opinion. Even though each baby is different and one may prefer a rocker over a vibrating chair or swing, this just has to be on your list of items to purchase. Not only does it give you a chance to take a mini baby break, but if you place it near a window, mirror or picture, baby has some nice scenery to view! Some mothers also find that a swing is an effective spot for napping, however, never leave your baby unattended while she is in the rocker/swing. There are plenty of rockers and swings to choose from. Some even have music options, mobiles, or fold up for portability, but do not get too hung up on the look; you may have to go through trial and error to find which one your baby prefers.
BATH TUB: How can a bath tub be a toy? Honestly, one of the best things for spending a nice chunk of time with your new baby is a bath tub! Putting this off with my first was a HUGE mistake! Do not wait! Babies will grow to love bath time with an infant tub. The infant tubs of today are designed to fit in or over most kitchen sinks. This is very ergonomically convenient. Purchasing one with an infant sling, or hammock as I like to call it which fits inside the tub helps make bath time a little easier on you. The hammock is connected to the sides and supports baby while the baby "floats" in the water. There are also models that are more of a bucket style with a seat inside. These help keep baby upright, in a seated position while you give her a bath. Either way you "wash" it the bath tub is an excellent place for play, exercise, and quality time with the little squirt!
MUSIC: Children love music! It can be a phenomenal tool for teaching and learning. From the start a baby is already familiar with all the sounds throughout your day as she was developing during your pregnancy. Find a regular time of day dedicated to music. Place her in her crib, swing, special floor mat, or simply in your arms! Listening to upbeat music while you dance around with her can be refreshing for you both! With modern and convenient technology, you can create a personal playlist or specific station on internet radio and carry it with you on your phone. Or you can be slightly old-fashioned and shop around for a newborn music CD. For a more personal touch, singing to your baby is the best music to her ears! Create your own concert and make up songs based on your daily activities. Diaper changes are fun when there is a song to go along. With so many options to choose from with music, it may be your best toy yet!
MOTHER SCENTED TOY/SCARF: Lastly, most new babies have some sort of stuffed animal or special blanket chosen by the parents. To make this memento stand out, take the stuffed animal and rub it through your hair or over your body to transfer your scent. It may sound silly, but your baby knows what you smell like and transferring your scent to the toy will help soothe her when you cannot be around. This works well for both mother and father or even other family members, though it is most effective with the mother. A familiar smell also helps your baby with recognition. Use care on what you choose, however, making sure it is safe for baby to use and can be washed regularly. And don't forget to transfer your scent again after you wash the item!
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