juliet's big list of baby toys

juliet's big list of baby toys

TOYS! When I was little, a trip to the toy store was rivaled only by my mother telling me I was allowed to have Hamburger Helper for dinner. In my adult life, the only time I experience that same endorphin rush is when I walk into Nordstrom Rack and see they're having a sale on Rag & Bone jeans.

The new parent is pulled in conflicting directions when it comes to toys: on the one hand, babies come with so much inherent clutter it's depressing to think about adding to it. On the other, what if little Sassafras doesn't get into Brick Church's 2s program because Mummy didn't buy the right music table?

I exaggerate (only slightly, by Manhattan standards), but it has been important to me to emphasize quality over quantity. Plus, Avvie's favorite toy is -- without a doubt -- the plastic wrapper from her wipes pack, so I probably shouldn't bother at all. The good news for new parents is that there ARE toys out there that aren't that annoying. And generally speaking, the ones that are incredibly irritating make your baby the happiest, so at least you get some gummy smiles while you wince and cover your ear drums.

I've tried to arrange these chronologically as best I can remember. For reference, Avvie is 8 and a half months old, so this is what we've loved so far.

The Whoozit: For a lot of babies, this will be the first real toy they'll show interest in. Avvie started playing with hers around two months and it remains one of her favorites. She especially likes when I spin it over her head and when she was really little, all of her limbs would seize up in excitement. It was cuter in person, I swear.

NogginStik: As soon as she could grasp objects strongly (2-3 months?), this became her best friend. She loves the mirror on the bottom and how the colors change when she bangs it.

Maracas: A less expensive option than the NogginStik is a regular maraca. Babies love to make music on their own and this one from Giggle is small enough for younger babies. 

Oball: Another perennially popular toy, this is light enough for small babies to pick up and shake, while older babies will enjoy rolling or throwing it.

Lots of Links: When she was very little, like two months, these were fun to dangle in front of her face. Now, we can connect other toys to them, string them up over her play mat, or she can shake them herself. 

Brio red rattle: An older woman in our apartment building gave us this because it was her daughter's favorite when she was little. She was onto something: Avvie is fascinated by the bell on the inside and can shake it for hours.

Stacking cups: This is a toy that babies can start using around five to six months, but is useful well into the toddler years. At eight and a half months, Avvie loves to bang them together, pull one out from the other, or topple them over.

LeapFrog My Pal Violet: This was a present from other new parents and I might be giving this out as a gift myself. You can program it to say your baby's name, as well as key in other interests like her favorite food, color, and animal. Plus, it can play up to 15 minutes of bedtime music, which is handy during nap time. 

Baby Einstein Discover and Play Piano: Around six months, when she was just learning to sit up on her own, we started giving her this to play with. She soon figured out how to bang on the keys to make her own music and it's been one of our go-to toys ever since.

LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Letter Set: No, my baby can't read yet, but she loves being able to push the button and hear the alphabet song. I put this on her high chair tray while I'm making her meal and she can entertain herself forever with it.

Sassy Wonder Wheel: Another one that's fantastic at meal times (especially out at a restaurant), this has a suction cup on the bottom so it doesn't topple over easily. She loves to spin the wheel herself. 

pipSquigz: And yet another toy that's great for keeping baby occupied at the dinner table (sense a theme here?). These are also suction-cupped, but have rattles on the inside if she wants to pick them up. 

What are your favorite toys?

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