It’s really hard not to go mad with buying everything you see. There’s obviously the ‘in’ toys, currently the Jumperoo (a brilliant activity centre come bouncer, which has fans & people against due to potential issues with developing walking on toes, like with walkers), Sophie the Giraffe (iconic french teething toy) and numerous others that I’ve not yet discovered.
I think toys are brilliant – they make you look back to your childhood and compare with what you had (I’m still waiting for my mum to clear out the roof at her house to discover what of our toys are hiding up there that I can use for N). But, they can end up costing a fortune and not used.
So, what do you need for a baby? Not a lot really…the basics I couldn’t live without.
- Baby gym. Any sort, but having put Nl under many of his friends gyms, I reckon the Fisher Price Rainforest gym with music & lights was a brilliant buy (and fluke, as I only went for a posh one because I could use my Nectar points to help pay for it in Argos).
- Some kind of bouncer/seat. We don’t really use ours seat swing to play in, more for daytime naps, but seats with toys hanging over can be brilliant, and it’s a different more upright view of the world for your baby.
- Books. Any. We have fabric ones, board ones, normal large paperback ones, touch & feel ones, and the ones everyone goes mad about ‘That’s not my…’ books. N loves them all – he loves turning the pages and all my strange voices.
- Things to shake – rattles, teethers etc. The best we have is a Bright Starts ball which is flexi-ball (sorry about the pun!) with a bell inside. He grabs it and shakes it like mad, and then plays with it with his feet.
- Sensory basket with lots of things to feel and touch. These are the kind of things that play groups have…examples of things include emergency foil blanket for scrunching, pieces of material (muslin or organza type stuff will do), rainmaker (beads in a spice jar is fine, although you can buy swanky ones), sponge, ‘prickly’ mini hairbrush etc etc. You get the picture.
We also have a jumperoo as I won one back when I was pregnant. I’m not sure I would actually pay full price for one, but they maintain their value pretty well for selling on, and it’s really handy. He loves bouncing especially if there’s an emergency blanket to scrunch his feet on at the same time.
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However, I’m a bit of a sucker for a bargain, so if I see what I think will be a fabulous addition to the toy box, I’ll get it. NCT nearly new sales have got immaculate toys & books (last time I got a few books, plus a brilliant ‘car’ activity centre which he likes driving on), I won a My Pal Scout a couple of years ago which our youngest nephew didn’t want at the time, but has proven very useful, especially as N smiles away at it speaking and singing his name. I make good use of any nectar points (pay for Argos things), clubcard points and cashback sites (I bought N a Happy Hopper cow using my cashback money recently). I have also found bargains in Wilkinsons, Poundland and Family Bargains stores…often copies of more expensive branded items. Poundstretcher is also great for cheap musical instruments like a bath xylophone (I love it, even though it’s taken a few weeks for N to get the whole hitting it rather than chewing the beaters).
My favourite thing so far though is my hotch potch Ball Pit. I got a small ring paddling pool and filled it with balls…so excited. N doesn’t mind it, but I guess it’ll be a few weeks before he really starts to enjoy it. I am impressed though, that at only 23 weeks he can already get hold of the balls.
I have to say though, that some of his favourite things are just items he can grab and chew or hit/throw around. He really likes tupperware containers (well I say likes, but actually he just wants to sit in his bumbo and twist round and chuck them around), spoons, and newspapers to scrunch up.
Round by us there is a mobile toy library that goes to some of the villages, the idea being you register then take toys out which you keep for 3 weeks before your child gets bored and you return it. Sounds like a brilliant idea (maybe real libraries should have them?!), but unfortunately the timing of my vaguely local one clashes with our swimming classes. But do check them out if there’s one near you.
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