Toys Are Not Us

So far, I think we’re doing a pretty good job as parents.  RR is a pretty happy, smiley, and now occasionally chuckling, kid.  You know, as long as she’s well-rested and fed, which we try to take care of before she turns into a demon.  She spends her weekdays at school, from around 8:15am-5:15pm, Monday through Friday.  Her room at school looks much like any daycare,  I would imagine – cribs for the babies, and brightly-colored toys for miles and miles.  Mats, gyms, stuffed things, bouncy chairs, a swing, an exersaucer – all in shiny reds, blues, and yellows.  No wonder RR’s eyes light up when we drop her off, and she’s oftentimes deep in a nap when we come to pick her up.  Compared to our house, school must seem like Wonka’s chocolate factory.

I took off Friday of last week to stay at home while two very nice men installed carpet in our basement.  572 square feet of our basement, to be exact.  When faced with the fact that our main living area upstairs is not particularly infant-friendly, nor do we have any toys in stock other than whatever we throw in her pack ‘n play with her, we thought we’d dedicate some of that 572 square feet to potential Wonka-like toys to be bought and to provide a soft, crawlable, rompable space for RR to spend on her evenings and weekends.  How generous of us, I know.

This morning, I was prepared to go online and buy some kind of overstimulating contraption to break in on our newly cushioned space, but have found myself numb by all of the choices.  Mid-week this week, RR will turn four months old.  She enjoys tummy time, laying on her back, shoving things into her mouth, knocking herself in the head with rattles (or anything else she has in her hands), kicking her feet, and standing up with some assistance.  She also likes things that crinkle or light up.  We don’t know if she likes things that make noise on their own, since we don’t own anything that does that.  She (still) hates her swing.

Aside from polling her teachers at school at what her favorite toy is when she’s there, I though I’d ask you nice folks if you have any recommendations.  What toys/activity contraptions have your kids (four months and older) really enjoyed?  Is one playmat the same as any playmat?  Anything you’d steer clear of?  Thanks, in advance.

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Posted on October 18, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Generally a playmat is a playmat. Though the music on ours made n cry for… a while. I have no idea why. (it was movement generated, even, which she loved in her bouncy seat. go figure.)

    She tends to love toys that aren’t toys. Like, uh. pots. and cardboard boxes. and laptops.

    We’re lucky in that we’ve gotten a lot of free and hand-me-down toys so we haven’t had to think much about it. She’s only just now getting into (chewing on) her books. She loved her jumper/exersaucer thingum. (we have two. if you’re ever in the area, you’re welcome to TAKE ONE WITH YOU.) and now loves using it to walk around. (we love using it to keep her from escaping and eating cat food.) We have some building blocks (cardboard, wooden, plastic) that she doesn’t really care about. she likes stuffed animals and will drag them around and eat them. She loves her bead maze thing that we got from ikea. (the kind with the three metal wires and beads go from one side to the other.) um. what else. she’s not really a toy kind of baby is the thing, and her preferences change day-to-day.

  2. I agree with the pp… Ryan loves all things that are NOT toys… like wooden spoons, cardboard boxes, the cordless phone and his dirty laundry that he digs out of the hamper. Actual toys that he like include playground type balls (you know, the ones in the big bin at the grocery store), this drum set is a HUGE hit: http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-K8845-Crawl-Along-Drum-Roll/dp/B000LSZVJG …. and pretty much anything he can chew on/climb on.

  3. Although our daughter is only 3 months old, we’ve been putting her in toys that are made for older babies. She LOVES her exersaucer, we got some hand-me-down one from a yard sale and she loves standing in it and staring at the toys, she’s not really reaching out and touching them yet, but she loves it. She also likes to just stand in it and watch the dogs run around. I have heard that jumperoo’s are really fun from some people at my work. They liked the stationary one so you can plop her in there and she can jump away while you cook, go to the bathroom etc. We might be buying one soon. She’s getting a little bored with her play mat with the toys hanging above. If she’s into tummy time, maybe try something that you can put on the floor and when she pushes a button it lights and makes noise?

  4. Our boys (now 7 months) LOVE their exersaucers. They have been in them since about 5 months of age, and still can’t get enough. A plus is that once they are in them you can leave the room knowing they are safe for a few minutes, and won’t roll under the couch and suck up all the dust bunnies. They weren’t that excited by their playmat, but to be fair it was a hand-me-down older style without much to do, so maybe they would have preferred one with lots of whistles and bells. They also love anything that makes a noise or sings or talks when they push buttons. The Lamaze Chime Garden is a big hit http://www.amazon.com/Lamaze-LC27205-Chime-Garden/dp/B000I2Q0DG/ref=pd_bxgy_ba_img_a as is an irritating telephone that talks and sings and lights up when you press the buttons (hand-me-down again).

  5. oops sorry posted that twice…I forgot to sign out of my business blog and can’t figure out how to delete duplicate comments :/

  6. Hi,

    Our girl is ten months today and starting at about seven months the really critical item was a wooden cart with a handle…go to some crunchy hippy online catalog and buy the real wooden kind for more money than the plastic crap because they are weighted especially to be stationary when the baby needs it to be stationary but then once they pull up they can hold onto the handle and use it as a walker…mine pushes the thing around all day every day and climbs in and out of it and uses it as a scooter and loads it up and empties it out and runs over the cat and I just couldn’t make it without her ‘cart.’

  7. oooh, and okay, I’m biased because I would really love it if she would ever want to build stuff with me, so I’m encouraging her, but I went to the hardware store and bought some metal fasteners of various types and set up a dresser so she can (and has done) learn to operate a hook-and-eye, and a slide-bolt, etc. I had to spend hours showing her, but now she can operate them and she has such fun.

  8. I agree about wanting to play with other things than bought toys. Baylor like noise makers. Take a pill bottle or something like that with a lid that is small enough for her to hold, put some dry beans or rice in it and glue the lid down. My son loved these to shake and roll around. His favorite entertainment was us and it still is and he was not easily distracted with toys. He still is not but now he can help me cook, do laundry, clean etc instead of screaming from the bouncy chair or floor mat. But we had all the toys anyway trying to entertain him. He had a plasic rainstick like toy he ALWAYS dropped on his head. My partner hated it but he liked it a lot. Stacking cups are good too.

  9. Thanks for everybody’s awesome ideas!!

  10. Just found your blog – writing this in Nov. I hope you get notified of new comments. 🙂

    My wife and I birthed our babies 8 months apart, so we kind of jumped into the whole mom thing. We had a lot of the usual toys and many mobiles overhead for the very young baby months. As soon as the kids could roll over and grab, though, the most enduring stuff has been somewhat non-traditional.
    -A big set of cardboard blocks, http://tinyurl.com/yfpv76d
    -a bunch of multi-colored pool noodles cut in different lengths,
    -a series of balls in different materials (felt, rubber, bell-filled, etc),
    -an exersaucer that (sadly) makes a little noise
    -a full length mirror mounted sideways on the wall,
    -a big mound of pillows.

    We also put hooks in a joist in the ceiling, and 4 years later are still using this setup daily for swings, trapeze, hooking a mesh mosquito net tent = castle, etc.

    I also bought two sets of interlocking foam tiles from Lowes (least smelly/ offgassing I could find). I cut a window shape in one side and a couple of big baby-sized circles into a couple other of the tiles. We make a 3-D house out of them, sometimes push a crawling tunnel into the door hole and get HOURS of play out of it. Multiple kids benefit from a house on each end of the tunnel. It all folds up flat and slides under our couch.

    Good luck!

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