As our little one has reached the age of constantly looking for fun things to do, we’re doing our research on the “essential” toys for the baby. Judging from our friends who have been through this once or twice already, the toys below seem to be the consensus as the “must haves.” Judging from the pricing of these items, it seems like it’s a good idea to open a baby merchandise store!
The list below is to give new parents a general idea of what’s out there and what can be useful in keeping the little one active/busy. The prices that I listed below are the retail cost but most can be purchased used for about half the price.
This one takes number one as the most essential toy/item for a newborn/infant. The swing helps the baby get to sleep or calm them down if they are fussy. Even though they are a bit expensive, they are well worth it for the sanity that it can provide.
A playpen is a contraption that allows a safe spot to place a baby while your doing other things. I’m assuming that the playpen will become especially useful when the little one learns how to walk! We find that the playpen is a great second bed for sleep overs at the grandparents house. For us, the criteria for a good playpen was it has to be sturdy but portable.
3. Baby Carrier
A baby carrier, like the Baby Bjorn, allows you to carry your infant without using your hands! As you can imagine, this provides many advantages as the parent can finally use both hands to do chores, run errands. The Baby Bjorn is quite expensive, but I’ve seen alternative brands that cost less and essentially do the same thing. We purchased ours “previously loved” for less than half of the retail price.
The bouncer acts kinda like the bumbo (see below) where it gives the baby a place to sit/lie down in a semi inverted position. We purchased one of these as it can be easily moved around the house to wherever we are. I wouldn’t say that this item is “essential” but it can be quite convenient at times.
5. Play Mat
This is another item that we purchased on sale at Toys R Us. It helps develop the infants motor/hand skills through grabbing the dangling toys as indicated in the picture. Great thing about these play mats is that they can fold up and extremely portable. Most importantly, it keeps the baby busy for a few minutes before getting bored again.
6. Jolly Jumper
This is a recent purchase of ours as we’ve noticed that our child likes to jump when we hold her upright and we heard that it can provide hours of entertainment. There are two kinds of jumpers that can be purchased, one that hangs off the door frame, and the other that has it’s own supporting frame. It seems that the one with it’s own supporting frame is more popular these days.
Cost: $30 for basic door hanging version, $80 for the self stand version.
Our little one really enjoys being upright and grabbing things. The people who invented the Exersaucer certainly thought it through as the device allows the child to securely stand, rotate and play with the toys attached. The downside is that new Exersaucers are quite expensive where they start at $60+.
The Bumbo has taken the baby world by storm. It allows a baby the ability to sit upright which is especially great when they can’t sit up on their own yet. The caveat being that the baby must be able to hold their own head up before using the Bumbo. Our little one loved the Bumbo that we tested out, but decided against purchasing it as our baby is sitting up without help already.
Cost: $60 + $15 for optional tray
So if you’re a new parent looking to purchase all of the items above new, then you can expect to pay around $600 + tax. However, if you don’t object to some wear and tear, most of the items above can be purchased used at garage sales, online classifieds etc at a significant discount.
I’m going to say right now that when I was an infant, I didn’t have anything like toys listed above, and I turned out alright (or so I’d like to think). However, I believe nowadays, parents are willing to spend whatever to give their kids an edge, or perhaps anything to keep them quiet. :)
Those parents out there, what are your thoughts? Are the toys listed above a waste of money or well worth it?