Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Best Toys for Baby: Ages 0-3 Months

I had a request for a series of favorite toys for each age range of baby. I can share my ideas and then you all can share yours.

o-3 months is a time when your baby doesn't really play with toys. When you consider Hogg's Learning Triangle (Baby Whisperer: Learning Triangle : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/09/baby-whisperer-learning-triangle.html) and Ezzo's funnel, you want to be careful about what you try to have your child play with. This doesn't mean your newborn needs to sit in a state of boredom. For one thing, everything is new and interesting to your newborn; she can easily become overstimulated if you take things to far (which I think is very common for the first time mother, at least it was for me). For another, there are some things I think are good for the newborn. Remember the baby doesn't usually get the ability to grab a toy until 3 months, some closer to 4 months. So we are talking about the newborn who can't move herself or purposefully grab something and hold it.


  • Blanket: A blanket can be a good "toy" for a newborn. You can do tummy time or lay your newborn on her back to just observe what is going on around her.
  • Playpen: A playpen can be used instead of a blanket, or in addition to a blanket. You could put mobile on the playpen (mobiles are discussed below) a stuffed animal in your baby's view, or even the gym in the playpen and the baby at the playpen. I find this nice if baby has older siblings that aren't quite aware of how to handle baby yet. For example, Brayden was 22 months old when Kaitlyn was born. He has always been a cautious person and was never too rough with her, but I wasn't about to leave them in the room alone together or leave her in his reach without my supervision. Putting her in the playpen offered a buffer for me to be sure she was safe. Our playard is a Graco brand, but there are lots of brands out there: Playards
  • Bath: Once the umbilical cord has fallen off, you can bath your baby as a good "toy" for this age if she enjoys it. Before that, just a sponge bath. See this post for my favorite bath items along with many ideas from readers: Baby Stuff I Love: Bathtime : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/08/baby-stuff-i-love-bathtime.html
  • Massage: Your baby might enjoy an infant massage. See this post for more on that: Baby Whisperer: Infant Massage : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/09/baby-whisperer-infant-massage.html
  • Parent's Voice: your voice can be interesting for your baby. Think back to those nursery songs and sing them to your baby, but be sure you don't take it too far or for too long. Some of my kids favorite songs were The Wheels on the Bus (doing actions of the bus with baby's body, so for wipers, I would take their hands and swish them back and forth), 10 Little Monkeys (my fingers were the monkeys), and the Itsy Bitsy Spider (me doing actions).
  • Puppets: Your newborn might enjoy looking at a hand or finger puppet on your hand. Be mindful that you don't get too crazy with it. For the older newborn, she might enjoy if the puppet tickles her or kisses her. These are great toys because they can grow with your child. Your child enjoys watching them more as she grows, then she enjoys putting them on her hands, then she can do puppet shows. I have found finger puppets to be especially nice at church. Hand Puppets and Finger Puppets
  • Simple Pictures: You can draw a big black circle on a white piece of paper and set it somewhere for your baby to look at. Not very exciting to the adult, but stimulating to the baby.
  • Gym: A baby gym is a great place for a newborn to play. It is a great "medium" for independent playtime (see Independent Playtime: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/independent-playtime.html). At first, she just lays there and looks at the things around her (be sure you don't leave her there too long and overstimulate her). Between 1-2 months, she might start trying to grab or kick the items she is looking at. She also might coo at it. As she approaches 3 months, she will at first accidentally grab an item, then start to move more purposefully in trying to grasp those toys. Many baby gyms are designed to grow with your child. Baby Gym
  • Mirror: A baby safe mirror can be fun for your baby. Your baby will enjoy looking at herself. You can get a crib mirror and have her lay in the crib or playpen and look at herself or get a car mirror and use just in the car or move it back and forth. Be sure if you put it in the crib that you take it out for naptime or she might admire herself rather than sleep. I highly, highly recommend a mirror in the car. It was an absolute must with Brayden. For Kaitlyn it wasn't as necessary, she was more interested in looking at Brayden, but she still enjoyed it. Baby Mirror This is my favorite car mirror: Fisher-Price Rainforest Deluxe Auto Mirror -- it isn't the nicest adult-looking toy, but the baby loves it.
  • Mobile: The only mobile we have ever had is a simple mobile with three bears hanging from it (it came with our playard). They don't have music and don't move or anything. This sounds really boring, but for the newborn baby, it is fascinating. Brayden was always really active, even as a newborn. He was standing (supported by us) before two months old. He wanted to move. When it came to these bears, however, he would just lay and watch them. I had them by his changing table. He would watch them while I changed his diaper and then want to lay there some more to continue to watch. They are also the first things he ever talked to. He talked and talked to them. Baby Mobiles
  • Bouncer: This is another good "medium" for independent play in those early months (Independent Playtime: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/independent-playtime.html). It is also a nice place for baby to be while you fix dinner or something. As your baby starts to develop some head control, the bouncer can be a fun toy. There is no shortage of different bouncers out there, so find one you think you will like. Ours is a kick and play where things happen when baby kicks. It was fun for teaching cause/effect. Here is the one we have, but there are lots of fun options out there:
    Fisher-Price Kick & Play Bouncer
  • Swing: I love the swing. Brayden wasn't ever one to sleep in it, but he would sit and have some playtime in it each day. The lifesaver of the swing came with Kaitlyn. For one thing, she had reflux and there were times she needed to sleep in the swing. It was also a good place to put her to sleep if she had been up too long and overstimulated while she was sleep training instead of the crib (like when she was at church). It also helped train her through the short naps (see Waking Early From Naps/Won't Fall Asleep For Naps: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/waking-early-from-napswont-fall-asleep.html). Another reason it was great is when you have two children (or more), you can't always give your full attention to the baby, so it is a nice place to put baby for a few minutes if she wakes early and the older kids are in need of something (say it is their naptime). The swing we have had for both was the Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium swing. Once again, not something that looks nice in your house, but the kids love it. We have decided to buy a new swing for the next baby; it will be the Fisher Price Rainforest Swing. The reason we are going to get that one is it can plug in, but also can run on batteries. Baby Swings
  • Books: It is no secret that I love books (Non-BW: The Value of Reading: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/non-bw-value-of-reading.html). I plan to do a Baby Stuff I Love post on books that I love, but I will also include books especially good for each age group in this post series. For this age you are really going for books to look at and books with fun rhymes. Your baby won't be touching on purpose yet, so I won't list touch and feel for this age. If you are interested in good touch and feel books, I will list them in the 3-6 month post. Books that are excellent for words are the Baby Einstein books. I especially like the bath books for this age and older. The older newborn is accidentally grabbing stuff, or perhaps trying and getting it by chance. These books are basically indestructible. Baby can slobber all over them without problem. When baby gets older, they can go in the bath with her. The first four books on this page are the bath books we have: Baby Einstein Bath Books. I also recommend any Baby Einstein book really, but one I would find especially good for this age is the Mirror Me Board Book. It has mirrors on each page along with a fun character. It can be a fun book for baby to see herself: Baby Einstein: Mirror Me! (Baby Einstein). Another type of book I would recommend for this age is the cloth book. They are soft and safe. Baby Cloth Books. One in particular my children both liked is Circus McGurkus 1, 2, 3! (Dr. Seuss Nursery Collection). The text is in rhymes and each page has something fun for baby. For example, on page has a rattle.
  • Other toys you can move: You can get toys that your baby can't hold or play with yet to entertain with (like a rattle). Just be sure you don't overstimulate and you don't become baby's primary source of entertainment. For a list on toys like this that I recommend, see the 3-6 month age post.
  • Stroller: I felt comfortable taking both of my children on walks once they were 6 weeks old. Brayden's birth took me a long time to heal, so that is part of the reason he was that old. I could have done Kaitlyn earlier, but we had a double stroller that wasn't as good for a newborn as our single stroller, so at 6 weeks I thought she was strong enough to sit in it. Also, for many babies that is the youngest they can be and stay awake long enough to eat, change diaper, and go for a walk. If you want to take baby for a walk (for your sanity as well as theirs), one tip is to have the stroller and everything ready to go while baby is napping. Then you can feed, change diaper, dress appropriately, and take off. For a single baby, I really like our Graco stroller. It has several reclining positions, all the way to fully laying down. It is really easy to push; you hardly feel the weight at all. You can maneuver it with one hand. It is bulky, but where I live and walk that isn't a problem at all. Our double stroller is the Jeep Wrangler Twin Sport All-weather Umbrella Stroller. Both seats recline and it is really small for a double stroller. It isn't as easy to push as our solo Graco, but I didn't like how long or wide double strollers could be. Also, I don't think any double stroller is as easy to maneuver as a solo stroller. I wanted a stroller they were sitting next to each other but could still realistically fit in normal places. It is pictured on this page: Strollers (right now it is number 20).
  • Whoozit Activity Spiral: This is something I got for Kaitlyn and I love it. It can go on a car seat, stroller...pretty much anywhere you can get it to go around. It is an award-winning toy that is fun through many ages: Whoozit Activity Spiral
In no way are all of these things necessary, but they are all ideas for you and your newborn. Please share any great toys you have found for babies ages 0-3 months old.
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6 comments:

Amanda said...

RE: BABYWISE 3 months old
I need help. I have been following the Babywise schedule since JC was born. We have gotten into a great routine of waking at 7am, 3hour feedings, waketime of about 1 1/2 hrs after each feeding and naps at 1 1/2 hours after that. However, he is 11 1/2 weeks old and still wakes 4-5 times per night. I only feed him once at night between 10pm(last scheduled feeding) and 7 am (first scheduled feeding). I have questions:
How do you change to a 3- 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps like the book suggests around 3 months while still being on a 3 hour feeding schedule and following the feed/wake/sleep routine? JC shows signs of being tired after 1 1/2 hours of wake time, but is he getting too many naps during the day?? I really need my sleep!:) Please help!

Plowmanators said...

Amanda,

He could only take 1.5-2 hour naps and be up for 1.5 hours if he was on a 3-3.5 hour schedule. Since he is up for 1.5 hours and sleeps for 1.5 hours, then he is on. But you have 4 naps until 4 months. The 4th nap can be a short catnap if needed.

For the waking in the night, it sounds like you need to do some troubleshooting to figure out the reason. Often it will be because of inability to self-soothe, so consider that. See this post for ideas:

Nighttime Sleep Issues: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/nightime-sleep-issues.html

He also could be having a growth spurt at 3 months. 4-5 times at night is really excessive, so my first guess would be a self-soothing issue, but it is impossible to say with what I know.

Amanda said...

Sorry, I know I'm in the wrong area, but I'm not sure how to do these blog things yet:) How do you teach a baby to self soothe. That is definitely the problem. He wakes up at night 4-5 times, but if you go in and reswaddle him & give him the pacifier he'll go back to sleep (usually). It's not a hunger issue (except for once a night around 4am) He won't go to sleep without the swaddle, then he gets out of the swaddle and wakes himself up with his arms. I tried during his naps to teach him to turn on his side and suck his fingers, but he is too worked up after getting his arms free to go back down. He does this at night and sometimes during naps at the 45 min mark. Also, when you count the amount of sleep time, do you count the "dream feed" (10pm feeding) as the start or the 830-1000 (last nap) as the start of the "night sleep". I've been trying to get him to sleep from the 1000 dream feed to at least 4 am, then to 7am, but he tends to wake up multiple times still and he's 12 weeks old. Am I doing something wrong or is he just in the 4% of PDF/BW babies that don't sleep through the night.

Plowmanators said...

Amanda,

On the left side of the screen, there are blog labels that are links. They are in alphabetical order. Click on the word "Swaddling." There, you can get ideas for swaddling older babies. If he needs it, he is disruptoin himself with his strength. Be sure to look at reader comments because there are some who have swaddled older babies.

For teaching to self-soothe, you do cry it out, or there are other methods, like the method of the Baby Whisperer. You can see the blog labell "CIO" and "baby Whisperer" for more (though the CIO label will give you the BW method also). The pacifier might be interfering.

You count sleep time as sleeping time. You wouldn't count from 8:30 since he is waking at 10. Remember the first definition of STTN is 7-8 hours, so from 10-4 is 6 hours and he isn't that far off.

It sounds like you need to work on the self-soothing ability and go from there. Good luck!

Amanda said...

Here is our basic daily schedule:
Feeding: 7a/10a/1p/4p/7p/10p (3hrs due to still not sleeping through the night)
Naps: 830-10/1130-1/230-4/530-7/830-10
He is doing better through the night, sleeping from 10pm feeding to 4am, then on to 7am (which I actually had to wake him at 7am for the first time this morning! yay!) He eats good at the 4am and okay at the 7am. We are done with the swaddle, which has helped since he kept getting out of it anyway. He is 14 weeks old. Anyway, my question is that he is not sleeping good at his naps (30-45 mins) in the morning when he sleeps good at night, then wants to sleep a lot in the afternoon, which sets him up for a bad night sleep the following night. (So I get a good night sleep every other night) If we only let him get one hour of sleep at 9-10, he seems to do better. Should I still be on 5- 1.5 hour naps (total time 7.5 hrs). I have read your blog on naps and am still a little confused. I feel like I am forcing the daytime naps (not going down but with him waking up at 30-45 min into the nap) and then he wakes up more at night if I do. If I just let him get a total of 5 hours during the day, then he does better than if he sleeps the 7.5 hours that are "scheduled" naptime(if that makes sense). He is tired and goes down for his naps after 1.5 hours of awake time, but wakes up after 30-45 min. I have tried feeding, but I don't think that is it (45 min intruder) Do you drop naps starting with the last one of the day? (830-10). He's not ready to completely drop it b/c he will fall asleep around 9p, then we wake him up to dreamfeed at 10p. He also doesn't take his morning/midday nap well, so it's hard to start from the last nap if he doesn't take the morning ones well.

Plowmanators said...

Amanda,

For morning naps, he might need a longer waketime in the mornings after he has slept better at night. I would keep a log with waketime length and see if increasing it, even just a little, helps.

Conversely, often short naps are the result of too long of waketime. Check out the blog label "optimal waketime" for more deatils, but you need to work with the waketime to find out what is the perfect length.

The 8:30 PM "nap" is not a nap; that is bedtime. The 10 feeding is just a feeding to tank him up before you go to bed so you can get more sleep before he wakes for more food. So you won't ever drop that. The first nap you drop will be the 5:30 nap. See the blog label "dropping naps" for more. Your number of naps for his age are perfect right now. He has four. But he is approaching the age where most drop the fourth nap (four months old). Some do drop it earlier. You can shorten the nap before you drop it altogether if needed.

See also the "45 minute intruder" blog label.

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