As a kindergarten teacher, I'm a huge advocate of play in schools. Montessori and Piaget both are known for the theory that 'play is the work of a child.' Play is a very important, if not the most important part, of child development. I've worked with children in many different capacities throughout my life. I was a teacher for several years, before that was a camp counselor, I babysat and tutored. I learned about the psychology and theories behind play in graduate school. So one might think I'd know all about how to play with a baby. Yet when I had Mary Clare I realized I didn't know anything about newborn play. So as we did with most things, Mary Clare and I figured it out together. Check out the toys she loved and engaged with most during her first 3 months.
Fisher Price Kick & Play Piano Gym
This was a gift from my husband's colleague and Mary Clare absolutely loves it. The peanut is occupied for such a long time making music with her legs, grabbing at the 4 hanging toys and admiring herself in the adjustable mirror. It comes with a mat for underneath which we used at first but it's a really junky fabric. I got a great tip from my friend and fellow new mom. Grab a soft quilt or blanket, lay it underneath the gym and toss the junky Fisher Price mat. This makes it more aesthetically pleasing, easier to toss in the washer when baby inevitably spits up on it and much softer for baby's sensitive skin.
Gund Flappy the Elephant
Oh I am quite certain you have seen this singing, talking wonder! It was apparently one of the hottest toys this Christmas season...I had no idea, until Rob's aunt got it for Mary Clare! If you haven't seen this elephant, get to know her! She sings "Do Your Ears Hang Low" and plays peek-a-boo. It's the cutest thing to watch Mary Clare interact with Ellie, which is what we named her. Ellie becomes exceedingly less cute when you've heard her sing for the 10th time within an hour. However, Ellie is one of the few toys that will chill MC out during the witching hour. So we often bring this bad boy out around 6:30pm, when things start to go down hill!
Lamaze Captain Calamari
This is one of the first and few toys I registered for. I think he's so cute and I love the name. I am confused whether he is an octopus or calamari which then begs the question, what is the difference between an octopus and calamari? I digress... Captain Calamari has 8 colorful, crinkly legs for baby to grab at and a mirror and a little rattle thing too. All my friends and cousins infants have this toy and they all seem to really love it.
Skip Hop Explore and More Roll Around Rattle Toy - Hedgehog
Meet Hedgie...are you sensing a trend in the names we give animal toys? This is the first toy I introduced. In the early days, MC hung out in the Boppy Lounger all the live long day. When she was just a few weeks old, I would shake this rattle in front of her face and she would be fixated for as long as 15 minutes. We also used Hedgie when she first started tummy time to get her to try to lift her head. Now Hedgie is like a member of the family, he's always rolling around MC's play mat.
Sassy Floor Mirror
One of my best friends told me about this item, our good friend had told her about it. It seems like so many tips circulate their way through the new mommy community! Their newborn daughters had this mirror and apparently it made those early days of tummy time more fun. I only purchased this mirror recently but even at a few months old, Mary Clare loves it! She looks at herself, smiles and grabs at the insects. The ladybug and bumble bee are crinkly which makes them even more appealing! Another great feature is that it folds up and it's very lightweight so it's a perfect toy to take on the go! It's super inexpensive too but we're still trying to figure out what about it is "sassy."
No Toys Required - Some of my favorite playtime moments don't include any toys at all.
We love to play airplane. I lay on my back and lift MC up and down overhead. Mary Clare laughs her little tush off, I'm not sure who has more fun! Plus it's a great arm workout for Mommy.
I love to sing to and dance with Mary Clare and she really likes it too! The jury is still out on when she'll figure out how hideous my singing voice is.
For now, we love to sing along to Raffi the most. A huge fan favorite in our house is "Baby Beluga," featured below and guys Raffi is NOT as creepy as he looks. At nap and bedtime we like to listen to the album called Quiet Time Raffi, my favorite is "Blessed Be." It's a very sweet song that may or may not make me shed a tear.
Full Disclosure: I found it a bit awkward trying to play with Mary Clare at first because newborns are basically just blobs that eat, poop, sleep and cry. Yet just like everyone will tell you, it gets so much better. And so it is with play. Playing with your little one starts to become more interactive as time passes. I promise before you know it you'll be laughing and having fun too! Now I basically hang out on the floor all day with Mary Clare. I'm actually wondering what moms do about constantly sitting on the floor, it's starting to take a toll on my lower back! Any suggestions??
There are a million other toys out there, these are the ones Mary Clare really likes. Ask you friends and family with new babies too, that's where I get most of my tips! Which toys did your little one engage with most in those first months? Do you have any of these items? When did baby "grow out" of them or lose interest? Wishing you lots of fun playtime with your peanut!