Posts Tagged ‘Baby Toys’


Okay, it’s not technically “gear”, but man have we been enjoying our books lately. My favorites are the Llama Llama series. Domingo and I discovered them when hunting for discounted books after Easter. We saw Llama Llama Mad at Mama on the shelf and just cracked up at poor little llama’s facial expression on the cover. Even though it wasn’t on sale I picked it up and started thumbing through it. Domingo kept trying to talk to me and I kept shushing him. I wanted to know how it ended! That night I bought Llama Llama Red Pajama, Llama Llama Misses Mama, Llama Llama Time to Share and, of course, Mad at Mama. I adore them. I could read them all day any day, they are so much fun.

We also purchased Llama Llama Holiday Drama and Llama Llama Home with Mama. The rhythm doesn’t flow as smoothly, and the ending to “Home With Mama” feels a little cobbled together. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, I absolutely do, but I don’t like them as much as the first four.

Nicki’s favorite book is Chu’s Day. She cracks up and the sound of the sneezing, so it’s not a good bed time book. It’s a very short book, so we generally read it several times in a row.


There’s been a cognitive explosion as of late. Nicki loves her knob puzzles, can assemble mega bloks creations, and cuddles her stuffed animals. For her birthday, my sister got her Jumbles. They’re an awesome building toy, different from anything else I’ve ever seen. The box says for “six months and up”. That seems young to me (although they also make for a good teethers) even at twelve months she seems a little on the young side.

We splurged with the activity tables three months ago. I justified the splurge thinking that she would use them for a while, long after she was standing and walking. I wasn’t sure the same would be true of a walking toy, so when Amazon had a 50% of sale on select Fisher Price toys, I jumped on the basic activity walker. When the walker first arrived I tried to get her to stand with it. No dice. She wanted to play with the knobs. The second time I put her next to the walker she tried to pull herself up on it, on the reverse side even, and it immediately began rolling. She had to run to keep from falling. She went about two feet before colliding with the desk, somehow managing to stay upright, and had a huge “DID YOU SEE WHAT I JUST DID?!” grin from ear to ear. From then on she was a little speed daemon. Within days she had new found confidence in walking and surprisingly we’ve had just a few spills. She can now pull herself up on it without it moving, run, walk, stop and change directions.


We purchased this storage organizer and two fabric drawers. In the dark brown drawer we put the toys she had clearly outgrown, and in the light tan one we put the toys she wasn’t as interested in. It’s not that novel an organization scheme (or technically baby gear), but it makes the list because of how Nicki interacts with it. Daycare encourages the kids to put the toys away, and she’s taking the lesson home. She’s constantly taking toys out and putting them back. She had her secret binky stash in one of the drawers. As I type this the knob puzzle pieces are all in the top shelf.

Both Domingo and I felt horrible we didn’t get toys with buttons and knobs earlier. When we did pick them up (at 8 months) Nicki seemed beyond ready. As a parent you’re always wondering if your mistakes are screwing up your child. How much more improved would her finger dexterity be if we had been practicing it all along? Would increase finger dexterity have lead to more exploring, and would that have lead to building more of those lifelong neural connections and pathways? Am I screwing her up for life?!

We were determined to always have at least one next stage toy around. That way we’d catch and accommodate these mental shifts sooner.

A reassembled Easter Egg by Pooky

About a week ago we noticed Nicki making a rattle out of an old tissue box and the plastic Easter eggs we still had lying around the house. They’re still out because she loves them. She can now take them apart with ease and get’s them back together by mashing the two halves until one is smooshed snuggly inside the other. Not bad for a ten month old. We started to think that maybe, maybe she’s not that far away from being ready for building blocks. We were planning to get MegaBloks for her birthday, why not get them now?

While quite the demolition expert, she hasn’t mastered the art of building… yet. She did get two pieces together although I think there was a bit of luck in that. But that isn’t stopping her from loving the blocks. She pulls apart whatever Mommy and Daddy make, bangs them together and against other toys to make noise, and flips the car base upside to use as a bucket, turning it into a “fill and spill” toy.

Tonight she started sorting them.


She crawled around the room picking up all the single blocks and throwing the rest to the side. Notice the car? All singles! Color me impressed.

Maybe we’re not quite ready to build, but those pathways? She’s got ’em.

Babies grow too fast. Once again I find myself behind, playing catch up. This time it’s with toys! Despite the fact that she loves to play with the remote, and we have a up purposed keyboard for her to bang on, I didn’t realize we were ready for toys with buttons and dials until we were at the baby store last month and Nicki started playing with a piano marked for “6 months +”. Woopsie. Problem rectified!

This month it’s all about the developmental toys.

Without a doubt, one of my favorite baby gear purchases to date has to be the Fisher-Price Musical Table. Nicki was an early supported stander, but we don’t have many good surfaces for her to pull herself up on or practice standing. She really only practice when holding onto us or in the bathtub, (I have no idea why she thinks the tub is a ‘good’ place to stand, but she does.) Her standing skills seemed to stagnate for two months. Enter the activity table. She loves it. She wants to stand all.the.time. After two days she started bending her knees and bopping to the music. Six days latter she was cruising from corner to corner to get to the other toys. This past week she started walking with support. In under two weeks! The change has been amazing!

The down side to the huge shift in her new found abilities, however, is this means she’s already out grown the jumperoo. I don’t regret the purchase as she did enjoy it previously and I think it was helpful in strengthening her legs. I’m just surprised it didn’t last us longer. The playmat lasted us well into 7 months!

We actually have this table and the LeapFrog Musical Table. (Dada wanted to have one upstairs, it was an amazing sale – 50% off! – and she loved, loved, loved her table.) After owning both I agree with the online comments that the Fisher Price one will probably last longer. It has more play modes, and more buttons/activities. Both are excellent purchases, and were a big hit, but I predict she’ll still be playing with the fisher price one long after loosing interest in the Leap Frog. My recommendation is to go with Fisher Price, unless there is a good sale on Leap Frog.

Next up, a baby remote! We had a play date today and Nicki’s friend had a cute cell phone rattle. She had a blast pushing the buttons. Since we’re outgrowing the rattle stage, I wanted to get something similar that lights up with music. We did get the piano too, but it only has 5 very big buttons and I really wanted something to help her finger dexterity. I don’t really like the sound effects (the piano and table have much higher sound quality). Nicki doesn’t mind. She loves that thing.

We can’t forget the fill and spill toys. Nicki loves these. We still have her Easter basket with the plastic eggs out and she loves playing with them. Her friend also has a shoe box full of all plastic container lids which she was having a grand time with. (We are totally stealing the shoe box and plastic lid idea!). We previously had the Lamaze soft sorter but I wanted even more. More textures, more objects. So we went with this bug jar. Right now she’s more into the bugs than the container, but I’m hoping that will change with time.

Last, but not least, we got a ball popper. I was hoping it would encourage her to crawl, but not so much. She does love it, and she is getting really good at throwing the balls back into it! (We removed the spinner on the tail, it didn’t work.) She has been throwing all kinds of things in it, her plastic Easter eggs, binkys, rattles, stuffed animals… Even her Taggies alphabet blanket has made an appearance in the dragon. What makes this toy a major winner in my book is how much exploring she is doing with it. Everything and anything is going into the dragon, she’s even learning to throw!

Babies change so much so quickly. Six months is a whole new ball game from 3 months with a whole new set of gear! The theme this time around: toys, toys, toys!

Activity Toys

Nicki has (mostly) outgrown the Lamaze Space Symphony Motion Gym. She still enjoys kicking at the bars and bending it, but she can get the hanging toys off with ease. Her new favorite exercise toy? The Luv U Zoo Jumperoo! We got it when she was four months old, but she really got into it at five months. Now she rockets back and forth. I’m pretty sure we have a daredevil in the making.

Learning To Sit

Our house has hard wood floors. Not only are they uncomfortable to sit on, but I was worried she would hurt herself when she feel over. We needed something soft, or at least softer. Enter the Skip Hop PlaySpot Floor Mat. I kept thinking “this is way too hard, she’ll hurt herself when she falls backwards!” when I was assembling the mat. I went online and found some people had a similar complaint, while others raved about the softness. That’s when I realized there were two sides and I had it upside-down. ‘doh! (At least I wasn’t the only one?) Now that the mat is right side up it makes for a much better baby play surface. We’ve taken a tumble or two on it, and while she wasn’t happy, she wasn’t hurt.

When Nicki was just learning to sit independently we were also on the search for tall toys that she wouldn’t have to lean forward (and possibly fall over) to get. Two good ones were the Lamaze Multi Sensory Soft Sorter and the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack. I liked the soft sorter because it was soft, so the occasional face-plant on the toy didn’t hurt. The stacker was also good because she was able to manipulate the rings more easily than the soft sorter objects. Now she’s gotten really good at dumping the rings off the stack poll and even once put the blue ring back on (a nine month skill!).


For teething it’s a three way tie between the Manhattan Toy Winkel (which we refer to as the molecule because it looks something like the Crystalline Entity for Star Trek), Sophie and Chan Pie Gnon (which we refer to as her alien).

I love the alien because it squeaks so easily. Have it pretend to walk across the table and it’s chirping all the way. Give the body a good squeeze and it extends and bobbles its head with a loud squeal like a cartoon character. Nicki will squeak the alien by squishing it’s head when chewing its ear (antler? antenna?). It was her favorite last month, but now Sophie is giving it a run for it’s money. She’ll squeak Sophie by squeezing her neck when chewing on her ears. I have to admit, I’m kind of amazed she has the dexterity to do that. The molecule has a little rattle sound, but it’s subdued and sometimes stops which I think that frustrates her. She can get a good chomp going on the tubing that is also easy to grab and shake, which is why it’s still in our top three.

Honorable mention would also go to the Bright Starts Silly Sounds Safari Rattle. She loves it, but it is too easy to set it off. Walk near it and it sings. Sit on the other side of the couch and it sings.

If I had it to do over again…

If I could go back in time I would get a Graco Snugride instead of a Snugride 30. Nicki hasn’t outgrown the height or weight limits of the Snugride 30, but the combination of her and the seat is just a little too heavy for me to carry comfortably. I’ve been leaving the seat in the car and taking in her in and out. It would have been nicer if we could have used the bucket seat a little longer. Ah well. Hindsight is 20/20 and all.

I’m still in love with the video baby monitor and everything else I previously raved about. Now that we’re three months old, we’re using a whole new set of gear. I thought it would be fun to share what works for us.


My favorite brand right now is bright starts. My aunt gave us this adorable bright starts blue elephant teether that makes a crinkly sound and Nicki loves it. We went out and bought the monkey and giraffe. (from Target for $7. Seriously Amazon? $20?!). We keep Mr. Giraffe as a car toy, and Mr. Elephant and Mr. Monkey stay home.

When Nicki was learning to hold and manipulate objects I wanted to get more toys for her to provide tactile stimulation. This set of links are a huge hit. She can easily grasp them and they have different textures. It took her a little while to figure out how to get them in her mouth, but once she fid she seemed to have a giant leap in fine motor control. Of course it could be correlation, not causation, but whatever the case, the links were the best $5 I’ve ever spent.

Another huge hit? these hanging birds. There made by Sassy and are elastic and attach to the car seat handle. Nicki grabs at the feet and can pull them closer to her. It’s great when I need to put her down somewhere for a quick errand (like making a bottle.) The birds keep her entertained and happy.

We’re also in love with the Lamaze Symphony Motion Gym. The motion is an absolute must. It keeps her entertained and focused on the moving parts. Also it’s purple and science themed. It’s perfect for a girl geek. Like the links, the gym can keep her entertained on her own for a little while.

We noticed Nicki had an easier time grabbing the tags of her plush toys then the corners of the toys themselves. I remembered seeing the Taggies ABC’s Blanket in the store for just $9. As predicted, the abundance of tags made it another toy that helped her learn to grab and hold. I love the concept of the taggies brand in general. A tag blanket would also make for a fun craft project! In fact, that’s probably what I’ll do for the next baby shower I go to.

Health care

Nicki has her first cold, so I’m sorry to say I have some experience with health related baby products like baby thermometers. Despite our health care providers insisting in our newborn class that the only accurate way to take a newborns temperature is with a rectal thermometer, they never used them themselves. At the hospital they took her temperature underarm, and at the pediatrician’s office they used a forehead thermometer. In reality when I have a fussy, sick baby trying to sleep on my shoulder, the last thing I want to do is put her down and take off her diaper to take her temperature.

The sad truth is it’s darn near impossible to get a good thermometer cheaply. We eventually settled on Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer. The previous thermometer we had needed to be placed on her forehead for five seconds to get a reading. When she moved (which was all the time), the thermometer failed to get a reading and would display an error. It would then need to be rebooted before it could take another reading. But you couldn’t reboot it once the error message was showing, you had to wait another five seconds for the screen to clear. It took several attempts to get a reading. Not cool. The Exergen thermometer is much less prone to errors. It scans quickly and you can rescan without rebooting the thermometer.

Update 4/2/13. I no longer recommend the Exergen. Nicki had her first fever but the Exergen reported a a normal body temperature twice. While it could have been user error (maybe I did not put it flush enough against her head) I would rather the thermometer give an error message than an incorrect temperature!!


We tried a number of different sleep sacks, but the BreathableBaby Wearable Blanket was the best. The Halo sleepsack has a zipper that starts at baby’s head and ends at her toes. It’s convenient for diaper changes, but a pain to get her in and out of it. The BreathableBaby has a double zipper so you can unzip her at either end.