Updated: Dec 12, 2020
As a pediatric Physical Therapist, I have developed a fondness for certain products over the years. Although you don't need every gadget on the market, certain tools are helpful in offering a variety of movement opportunities for your baby. To the core, I recommend a simpler experience for little ones- rudimentary, simple cause and effect toys without all of the bells and whistles. Babies can easily become overwhelmed with too much so as a rule of thumb, go for the paired-down version of what you get for your child. It is not uncommon for me to take batteries out of toys at the clinic simply because the lights and sounds are not needed for kids to enjoy playing.
Here are a few of my favorite things!
Love love love! the co-sleeper type bassinets that you can pull right next to bed so baby can be close but safe in her own sleeping environment. Bassinets in general are great! The drop down side of this type just adds convenience.
When it comes to body warps and backpack carriers, take your pick! I like all forms and styles of "wearing" your baby accessories. The benefits are numerous: builds strength and balance, fosters closeness, frees up your arms for activity just to name a few. Scarf wraps are fashionable and allow you to position baby in various ways as she grows.
Backpack type carriers allow towards the chest facing when the baby is small then outward facing as the baby gets older and wants to engage with the environment. You can wear these as a front pack or a back pack depending on the size and age of your baby.
Body wraps are popular to use with infants and babies. Available in a variety of fabrics and styles, they are designed to be both fashionable and practical for carrying your baby. A great alternative to lugging around a car seat, a body wrap will spare your back and shoulders that can be strained from carrying the weight of a car seat plus your baby. Save your back- use a wrap!
The Sit Me Up seat gives the baby opportunity to be upright when he has not quite mastered sitting on his own. For use when baby has good head control, this will help strengthen the trunk to master the skill. Again, less is more with all of the attachment toys that are available with this product.
Once your little one is sitting upright with good head and trunk control, an exersaucer is a great idea to encourage leg and core strength. I prefer the ones that have less gadgets so not to overwhelm. Adjustable for height, these are great to burn off energy and keep your little ones engaged. I've been known to throw a few puffs or cheerios on the tray for my own boys for snack time while playing
Over the last 20 years working with the pediatric population and as a mother of four myself, I've noticed that babies and children thrive with using their imagination with the most basic toys. It is so true that you buy some expensive, latest thing and they end up playing with the cardboard box. In the age of technology, I encourage you to foster their imagination and creativity, especially early on, by skipping the fancy stuff. I strongly recommend not to give children a hand-held gaming device or phone until they reach double digits to allow plenty of time to develop physically, mentally and socially. I cringe when I see toddlers and young children with their face buried in a phone or tablet instead of engaging with their surroundings. Babies and children do not need constant entertainment nor is it good for their young developing eyes and minds to have a continuous reel of ever-changing images flashing in front of their face. There is plenty of time for videos, gaming and social media when they become teenagers. Why rush it?