Mommy Nature's Preschool
Tried-and-true top ten lists for a range of ages, created by
a mom and teacher.
Most pictures take you straight to
Amazon.com's page pertaining to that item for more information. You can
also check out Ebay, garage sales, the
library and your local discount stores
for the best prices!
Keep in mind that your baby has/will
have his or her own likes and dislikes. (For instance, Jenna Belle didn't
like swings, bouncy seats, falling asleep in the car, etc. and my second,
Emmalisse will NOT watch a baby movie.) The items I list below span the wide
range of baby preferences/parent needs and are sure to please all! My best
advice for toys...If there is a way to test-drive anything, try it out!
Also, when your child, at any age, seems to bore of a toy that has been a
favorite, put it away for a few weeks, when it comes out again, it will be like
new to him/her! You could also try a toy exchange with friends/family.
Infant to 12 months...
The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears -- Very
comprehensive, including things you wouldn’t think to ask. An "instruction
booklet" with a focus on attachment parenting from an accomplished doctor
and a loving, experienced Dad. This 740-page book is great as a
reference, although I devoured it cover to cover because of its smooth
readability. From basic developmental stages to when to call the
doctor and how to latch the baby on for breastfeeding to when and what
solids to feed your growing baby/toddler, this book covers everything
from birth to age two!
Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Gwen Gotsch -- Endorsed by La Leche
League, a leader in breastfeeding support and information, this
completely prepared me for an incredible bonding experience. This
resource covers techniques, positions, concerns, common problems and
weaning. It also includes sections on nutrition, sleep issues,
returning to work, attachment parenting and fathering issues.
Helpful for the breastfeeding family, we're still a happily nursing pair
at 16 months!
and Baby Carriers
-- Having a high-need baby, or one that just loves to be held
constantly, requires you to find ways of completing
tasks with baby. The sling was an enormous help to me in the early
days and continues to give Jenna Belle the attachment she needs while allowing
me to have two hands free.
When she sees me reach for it, her face lights up. (The linked site has
instructions on how to make your own -- easy!)
Baby's Quiet Sounds Video Monitor -- If
your baby is a light sleeper, always tuned into the "I'll miss something
if I sleep too soundly
station", you'll love the ability to check on her without startling her out of a
sleep. She sometimes sleeps with us and sometimes is in her room.
This monitor gives me peace of mind when she's not right by my side. If
your house is large and you need a long range, check into some of the other
Sleep Right sleep positioner -- This has 3 wedges that
attach with velcro to adjust to fit your baby. I liked putting my baby on
her side versus her back and this held her in position. It was also
convenient for keeping her in one spot in my bed when Jenna Belle was tiny.
Otherwise, she'd migrate into me and I'd be glued in one position, unable to
Baby Einstein videos -- We were able to
begin using these at around 3-6 months, with Jenna Belle. She'd watch them for 10-15
minutes, long enough for me to jump in and out of the shower. If
your husband's military like mine, you adjust to being a single mom and
find sanity and quiet anyway possible. From 6-12 months, she'd sit
through a whole show and I'd only allow one a day, planning "my time"
strategically. This is also great if your baby hates the car
(yeah, right, they fall asleep!) and you are lucky enough to have a
video player in the car! Quiet rides once again!
Baby In Sight Mirror -- While your baby
faces backwards in the car, this mirror provides security for you to
keep an eye on him. Is he sleeping? eating something he
shouldn't? For just a few dollars, this makes a great gift for
someone expecting or yourself! Once he turns around, the mirror
can become a toy to entertain him!
Sony Cybershot 4.1MP digital camera -- yes, this was an
investment, but if you love to shoot pics of your darling and share them with
EVERYONE (especially via email), look into a digital camera! I've loved
mine! We even printed some very high-quality framed pictures taken with
Braun Ear Thermometer -- When your baby
is ill and already crying, restraining them while you take a
temperature, 2 minutes will be FOREVER. These ear thermometers
will let you know if the temperature is one to worry about, in 3
seconds. Definitely keep a nursery/first aid set on hand for more
exact measurements, as well as the handy nail trimmers they come with.
Colorful Mobile -- like the Deluxe
Symphony-in-Motion -- Until your baby can sit up and pull down the
mobile, invest in one like this. The bright colors and movements
are pleasing even for an adult to be soothed to. The music is also
good quality and very relaxing, playing for 15 minutes at a time while
able to be restarted via remote control! This is now mounted on
the top of a dining room chair and she still enjoys it (at 15 months!).
Aside from the
sleep positioner, you can still use everything from the infant list, so the
following are adding on to (instead of replacing) the previous list.
Treasury Vol. 1 & 2 videos-- Excellent!! I have never been an avid TV watcher and did not want
my children to become likewise, however, these volumes have captured every
child's imagination that I've known. I even used it while teaching
Kindergarten. The rhymes and stories are great for pre-reading skill
building! The characters can be a bit too happy for adults, but I
can't say I haven't enjoyed watching them many times with my kids!
Wee Sing videos-- Grandpa's Magical Toys in particular -- Jenna Belle still enjoys her
Baby Einstein videos but now we have a range of options with these movies.
The Mother Goose and Wee Sing provide colorful entertainment as well as
educational benefits not found in many of the top cartoons. It amazes
me how entranced youngsters become as they watch and learn from these
videos. I look forward to getting more Wee Sing movies to enjoy with
A ball, any ball! --
Any parent will advocate the many uses for a simple beach ball, but you have
many types of balls to choose from nowadays. From cheap beach balls to
intricate learning balls, your child will love throwing, rolling, laying on,
chasing and chewing on any ball you choose. There are enough to match
one to your child's personality -- just get one, or better yet, several
different ones! We have them in the house, in the tub and in the yard.
Versatile and fun!
Blocks -- Your child
doesn't need a specific brand. Like balls, you can find soft-sided
blocks that won't hurt when they knock them over, or sturdy blocks with
which they can really build tall towers. Moving those fingers and
hands builds strength and dexterity as they learn first to destroy a tower
and then to stack their own. We've acquired fancy soft blocks like the
Baby Einstein ones in the picture that make specific sounds; hard, hollow,
plastic blocks to stack higher towers; Fisher-Price
Sight & Learning Blocks
that are filled with moveable plastic animals or activities; and a large
Giant Building Block 40-piece Set
that are so sturdy, I walk with the children on the paths we make!
Mega Bloks (large Lego-like blocks) are a great precursor to Legos for
Bucket -- Talk about cheap! We have a large plastic bucket that we
filled with dried pinto beans for a tactile treat! I've used this
activity with kids of all ages. My 16-year-old even enjoys playing
with the little ones with this! It's very relaxing to slide your
fingers through and if you toss in various sized scoops, children begin to
make comparisons and recognize the relationships between them. I like
the beans because they are safe, although not yummy, to eat (a must if using
with toddlers!) but are bigger than sand so they don't get in the eyes and
embedded in my carpet! You can get this out after clean up time (so
you can use a dustpan to scoop dropped beans) or set the bucket on a mat
(and just shake the mat into the bucket when finished). You could use
a small bucket for one child or a large one to set on a table for several
children to enjoy.
Sorters -- These are made commercially
and sold as toys but you could just store your Tupperware on some lower
shelves in the kitchen and achieve the same purpose. Children of this
age are learning of objects size relations to each other and take great
enjoyment in filling and emptying bowls, buckets, under your bathroom
cabinet, your purse, whatever! Here's an acceptable means to do this
-- If there ever was a missing link to our evolution, the human
toddler is it! Sometimes, they resemble a monkey more than an adult
human the way they climb, scale, and clamber up any structure meant for
climbing or not! Mine was climbing up before she was walking and
continues to dance on the table when she makes it up before I get to her.
The climbing structure she has was a hand-me-down and is seemingly
out-of-production. This must be the new model, however. An added
bonus of the one she had was a steering wheel, which kept her occupied as
she rested from climbing!
Car Video Player --
My angel has never liked riding in the car. She's been known to scream
for an hour or more. Our Honda minivan's video player has been a wonder!
While facing backwards under a year, she could watch movies through the Baby-in-Sight
Mirror aimed at the video screen. Once turned around, it was even
better with the clearer, larger image on screen. We keep a rotating
assortment of movies and shows taped off
Noggin in both cars now! We even bought this DVD player for our
other car (so it wouldn't be jealous! :-) We've had it for
nearly a year and have enjoyed it with no problems, not even skipping!
Laurie Berkner's music -- What a breath of fresh air! More upbeat than
beloved Raffi, I've enjoyed "meeting" Laurie through
here to watch her fun videos on Noggin.com). When Jenna Belle and the
preschoolers that I watch came running in to see her videos between shows, I
knew I had to invest in a few of her CDs. We put them on to dance and
sing, and sometimes just to play with it in the background. It's true,
music really does calm the savage beast!! Experiment with different
types of music in different situations with your little one. We have
satellite tv which offers the music channels. Several times throughout
each week, I'll just choose a music station for background music and the
children really enjoy it.
Phone and Remote Control for your "mini-me" --
We'd gotten a play cell phone and remote control for our gadget baby but she
realized that we only ever used ours (so it must be better!). I
finally gave her my old cell phone, minus the batteries and bought her a
remote control (also empty of batteries) and she's happier with these true
look-a-likes. If your munchkin continues to steal your electronic
hand-helds, consider if you'd like to get him/her a remote that's just like
yours, depending on cost and safety. ** Remember, these aren't
intended as toys, so you would monitor your child's play with it and use
your common sense, just as in any other parenting decision. I usually
hand Jenna Belle hers when I'm using mine if she's having a fit. Then,
once distracted with another toy, I can move her toy to a safe location, to
wait for next time.