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What Do Babies Play With?

Okay you guys I have a baby question. Our little guy is 3 months old and he is now more independent and enjoys playing on his own. This is great because we can grab a sandwich, answer the doorbell or take a phone call without him freaking out, squirming and totally melting down. PROGRESS. But. I did something I thought I’d never do and bought a play mat that is obnoxiously colorful, loud, silky, shiny, plastic and well, just NOT pretty. The designer in me is going a little nuts having it sitting in the middle of the living room.

playaidanplay

And the stupid thing is not even “correct” because what rainforest has elephants and zebras? Thing is, Aidan got on that damn play mat and BOOM! I turned on the music and lights and he was silent. He stared upwards as the plastic animals dangled all around putting him into a baby trance. The hypnotic music played (the same music I now hear every second of the day even when it’s off) and sent him into baby lalaland. Oh yes, it was SHOWTIME and now he loves the mat. His eyes glowed like two bright stars – it was love at first sight. How can I deny him of THAT?

So I’m embracing the whole ugly plastic mainstream toy thing. Well okay, that’s a lie because I’m not embracing it. I’m tolerating it. The above monstrosity is the Fisher-Price Rainforest Gym and he is happy as a clam underneath it and well, that’s enough for me. When people come over to hang out, I sort of push it behind something because I never wanted to be that couple with a house that is littered with primary color toys that clang, bang and light up but I fear it WILL HAPPEN though I’m going to limit the number with hopes that I can maintain a stylish home while also maintaining a very happy baby boy.

Yeah. In my dreams you say.

Some of you may think it’s selfish to think about things like how my house looks, but I care not to please others but to please myself. I don’t want my home to look like Toys R Us. Can anyone relate?

aidanplay2

So what do babies play with other than these play mat things? We have other little “toys” in the form of rattles and crunchy things and soft blocks. I sing to him a lot. We do tummy time. I know what to do to snap him out of his grumpy time and make him giggle. But he cannot sit upright and I can only make so many crazy faces and sing out of key for so long in a single day. What keeps your baby happy, interested and but is also educational or at least fun and not going to send him to a therapist someday?

I know lots of you will want to jump through the screen and beat me up for this but we’ve watched two episodes of Wallykazam online and HE LOVED IT. I think maybe one episode a week is cool. Is that okay though? I mean, watching an educational cartoon at 13 weeks old won’t fry his brain will it?

Chime in you guys!

(image: holly becker)

Posted by decor8 in baby, kids on May 13, 2014

Your comments...

  1. Margarita Lorenzo commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:13pm

    haha I don’t have children, by my friends always say the same, their kids prefer the ugly, plastic, cheap toys, so yes you better tolerate it as he is going to love them!! My nieces rooms are covered in pink and more pink of anything you can imaging, Playmobil houses, fairies, etc…and they love it.
    Margarita Lorenzo´s last blog post ..FLOWERS AROUND THE HOUSE

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  2. decor8 commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:18pm

    @Margarita – Makes me glad I have a boy. I couldn’t tolerate pink and purple. ha ha!!!!

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  3. Silkie commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:23pm

    ahh i know that one..i”m afraid i gave up trying..happy baby/happy mum was always my philosophie no matter how ghastly the toy! Now i’m pretty much surrounded by lego and most days it gets the better of me! Infact here’s a crazy thing I did once..I got some plastic kid drawers from ikea and divided all the bricks up by colour..and thats how the’ve been stored ever since! I do not reccomend this route at all!! The things we mummies do!
    So lovely to see how your lovely family is blooming! He’s a beaut!
    Silkie xxx
    Silkie´s last blog post ..Designer & Illustrator Beci Orpin

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  4. decor8 commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:24pm

    @Silkie – Thankfully I don’t mind legos because I love to play with those! :)

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  5. Corinne commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:27pm

    Hahaha, this post is hilarious. I can totally relate with two boys. I always bought nice wooden toys but whenever there was a birthday or gift from friends it would be in the form of bright noise making plastic toys where I would just pray the batteries do die asap to be unleashed of those dreadful melodies.
    I did buy one of those bright playmats though and chose it real bright (Hey might as well teach them about colors instead of the difference between light blue and pale blue). But saying that they never fit into the decor is an understatment. It’s something you tolerate because you know it won’t last forever. As for the scattered through the entire living room small toys I always found that baskets where the answer. Throw everything in them in minutes and your place looks (almost) childless.
    Corinne´s last blog post ..Urban Jungle Bloggers – Balconies & Window Sills

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  6. Thera commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:28pm

    They do and will love the garish colours that match nothing, except a box of crayons. Our solution (we have 5 children) was to make sure we had a screen in the corner of our living room and everything could go back there when necessary. Also baskets, nice wicker ones and I made loose cloth covers to throw over top that coordinated with our home. As for their room when they were a touch bigger, a nice neutral on the walls and then if they wanted princess, Dora or Lego themed stuff, it was through bedding, usually just the bedspread, with nice sheets, pillowcases etc.

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  7. Kathy commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:29pm

    I see a new Holly Becker baby line coming!! :) Seriously, this is the problem of every home with a new baby. I was the exact same way. No way was I going to have the annoying, brightly colored crap in my home. I bought a wooden high chair, his room was decorated with antique toys and books with carefully thought out linens. Then BAM! The minute he went on that Baby Einstein play mat, we were done. We went from the play mat to the exersaucer. Etc. After the first year it does get better though. Back came the wooden blocks, books, etc. I think unless you want to be the constant toy to your baby you have to give in a bit. At least for a little while. Luckily that loud (in color and sound) play mat is easy to pick up and stash away. :) Once my son had a little more control over his hands and when he started teething, he did become enamored with his Tiffany silver rattle and his ever favorite Sofie the Giraffe. We also had some wooden toys he would play with that were handed down. Luckily you have a much better selection these days with organic and natural toys.

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  8. Kathy commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:30pm

    Incidentally, my house is now filled with Legos. EVERYWHERE.

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  9. Laura commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:36pm

    This is funny because a friend of mine told me she’d never buy all that ugly plastic stuff…3 years later she has a plastic village in her house. Haha. With my first I gave in too…but I’ve downsized with my 2nd and kept the clutter at a minimum with stylish storage baskets that I organize by “type” of toy (music, stuffies and transportation like cars, trains). I hated our huge, old playmat and got the wooden one at IKEA which is a lot more compact and now that the baby is older he can chew on the wooden toys it comes with since they come off. Lots of cute wooden toys on Etsy too. The only monster we haven’t been able to avoid is the Exersaucer…it’s a change of scenery for him and a chance to be upright. It’s possible to keep a gorgeous home with kids if you put in the time to declutter every so often…a big pile of plastic toys isn’t appealing to them either. And last thing…again with the first we never watched TV but now with a 3 year old it’s impossible to “protect” our baby from it. It’s fine. Being selfish is a good thing…if you’re not happy, your kids won’t be either. YOLO haha

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  10. kinga commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:36pm

    Hahaha Holly! I love this post and can totally relate. We live in a 600sq foot loft with an almost six month old and the crazy colourful plasticky, shiny toys are overwhelming me. I hide our play mat, which is ocean theme and at least accurate (lol) in our closet. We opted for the “4 moms mama-roo” swing because I think all the other ones are ugly and people thought we were crazy. As for toys, our girl really likes to play with the Lamaze stuffies. She has the Eric Carle hungry caterpillar and a whale and she just LOVES them. I think they are fun to chew and there are many textures involved which she likes to explore…but when she isn’t playing with them they are hiding in a toy box. I am not a big fan of the excersaucer, but we have one and she loves that too…great for when you need a shower haha. put babe in it in the bathroom so you can keep an eye out and shower away…which is great for parents whose babies spit up…a lot. Best wishes and happy parenting!!!
    kinga´s last blog post ..Baby has arrived…

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  11. Sarah commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:42pm

    The first year WILL be full of CPS (Cheap Plastic Sh*t, as described by my realtor some years back). The good news (or bad news?) is that it’ll go by fast, and before you know it you’ll be looking at wooden pirate ships, matchbox cars and lego storage. Whatever you do, make sure you get him one of those huge ugly jumper things. You will hate it and it will be your savior and in a few short months you’ll sell it so you never have to see it again. Good luck!

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  12. Kourtney commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:44pm

    Babies love textures, things that make noise, and generally, non toys just as much as they love toys. My 9 month old daughter is often fascinated by an empty plastic water bottle (it rolls, makes noise when crunched). I think I’ve realized with two girls that less is more. Stacking toys, simple woodblocks will do, a few noise makers like shakers and a drum, and a couple little cars to push and roll around will make baby happy. There are some fantastic toy company’s that aren’t all primary colour happy – but keep in mind babies love colour so don’t go too neutral. The designer in you will learn to surrender to the toys, the mess, and your company will think nothing less of you for it.

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  13. Jessica van der Liende commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:44pm

    Hi Holly,

    Haha this is something I can totally relate to! BUT try to embrace it, just a bit. I have two cute little monsters so my designer heart already died a bit three years ago trying to keep it all stylish. Nowadays I have a ‘playcorner’ near my kitchen and that works perfect for us. The whole house is for us, stylish and all. And that corner is for the kids! Really it’s great. And most important: they love it and are extremely happy and proud with their own private corner.

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  14. Karolina from H O U S E L O V E S commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:48pm

    I am like you, I buy only nice and fashion toys, whenever Gabi gets an ugly and colorful one I put them in nice and stylish boxes :)))) clever??? I recently discovered she likes metal bins (so, there you go, I bought her two:minty and cream) to decorate her room and put the toys in :)

    If your baby likes mat, replace it with nice and stylish one. Please believe me, there are mats that are stylish – many designers made that easy for us :) but sometime you need to spend time to find them. I had a creamy one with very nice creamy toys (all all in one colour tone) and every mum was asking where I got that pretty thing :) (cash&carry to be honest).

    there are also those sits that are very comfy and stylish too – check it out :) I like it – http://www.4moms.com/mamaroo . get one in black and there you go :)

    some nicer than nornal mats are here –

    http://www.amazon.com/Skip-Hop-Alphabet-Zoo-Activity/dp/B006STJTR2/ref=sr_1_34?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1399988054&sr=1-34&keywords=baby+mat

    http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-Little-Snugabunny-Comfort-Musical/dp/B00CWN3LMC/ref=sr_1_79?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1399988116&sr=1-79&keywords=baby+mat

    I like this shop – although it is in poland but I am sure you can find those toys in your country too :) – http://www.mamagama.pl/category/0-12-miesiecy/5
    Karolina from H O U S E L O V E S´s last blog post ..planowanie mojego tarasu // planning my terrace

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  15. Amanda commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 3:54pm

    Ah yes…it’s the second lesson in selflessness…giving over your house to the wee one. lol

    Soft books with a variety of textures are great…some even have rattles and squeakers/rattles in them. Taggy blankets are fun for them. Sophie the Giraffe is good for a kiddo with sore gums before a tooth pops up. And really…a mirror. Kids LOVE to look at themselves. They also make soft family picture books where you an insert pictures of your own…those are great for showing your kiddo who family is. And board books. Reading even at this age has so many advantages. Have fun!

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  16. Julieb commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:01pm

    My daughter had the same mat and loved it! I founding a bit annoying that you couldn’t turn off music and have lights on as she preferred the lights. The great thing about it though is it was easy to fold up and stick behind the sofa. Funnily enough she still loves it eve now. She is nearly 3 but if we ever have bsbies over to our house I get it out and she wants to lay under it with the baby. I have to confess I also bought the jumperoo which was also a big hit but if you’re finding the mat too much you’ll definitely hate the jumperoo as its big and can’t be put away. My little girl also loved a light show we bought for her bedroom. It was a lovely way for us both to sit together and wind down in the evenings. I also don’t think it’s ever too early to start with books. In the uk usborne do a great range of books called that’s not my … They have different textures for bsbies to touch and she loved these from a really you g age. Good luck with your quest and I would love to hear more Sbout stylish toys you find.

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  17. Ashley commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:01pm

    Hi Holly,

    The struggle is real and I feel your pain. To be honest, when my girls were infants, a play mat was probably the only thing they played with. The only other toy I remember them enjoying was the little tikes play piano…although I think with only 4 keys we can’t even really classify it as a piano. It’s funny because blogs like yours really inspired me to think outside the box and to begin to want toys that were both fun and stylish although it’s really hard to find such toys here in the USA! Etsy, ebay and online companies have become my friends in search of lovely toys. I also want my children to be able to hand down their toys when they have children and I just don’t think that will happen with the cheap, plastic toys that seem to have taken over the market.

    People gave my children the flashy, tacky toys and I know they meant well but my kids never ended up playing with them for long. I think your little man will enjoy the “prettier” toys once he gets a little older and his motor skills really begin to develop. Just give him some time.

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  18. Francine from Callaloo Soup commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:04pm

    Hi Holly. I know what you mean, I was there a few years ago. I’ve learned a lot about babies since having my little one, and one of the things I wish I knew back then was that babies actually need really little in the way of toys, especially toys that are flashy and stimulating. From the beginning though, my husband and I decided no plastic, no battery operated anything and no plastic. You can find a selection of simple wooden, handmade, safe toys for babies on Etsy, but at his age, even looking at sunbeams will amusing for him. I discovered a philosophy called RIE which talks a lot about this and how to encourage independent play for infants and toddlers. You can read one article here
    http://www.janetlansbury.com/2011/05/encouraging-babys-self-directed-play/

    Also regarding screen time, it’s strongly recommended that there be no screen time under two years old. This is one of the things I feel rather strongly about actually!

    I think you can definitely find lovely toys for your little one that don’t go against your decorating style! I don;t think it;s selfish, especially as I am convinced he doesn’t need the bright flashy stuff. But I can’t promise they won’t be scattered everywhere!

    Sorry if that was a long ramble, but this is one of the things I care deeply about :)
    Francine from Callaloo Soup´s last blog post ..Filofax Friday | Stationery Love and a Giveaway

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  19. Anne-Liese commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:05pm

    Oh, Holly, you might still have that one coming: my boy loves trucks, excavators and… PINK. I did a Ferm Living-type colour scheme in his room and on his walls when he was 6 months. Now he is nearly 3 and demands I change it to pink. No way, says mummy! Before I had kids, I swore I will never, ever allow any plastic toy in the living room. Well, don´t come over any of these days…

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  20. Tiffany Grant-Riley commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:11pm

    I fought with this so much when Reuben was born-I hated (and still do) gimmicky toys and clothes, I didn’t want some horrid Disney related crap in my house, I wanted wooden or nicely coloured non-specific toys for him. But gradually I softened to it and clung on to the fact that I could chuck them all into a bucket in a corner of the room at the end of each day. Now Tabby is 7 months and wanting to play with the same things and honestly, I couldn’t care less-I’d rather they were happy/occupied. That said, I DO envy those who seem to have a wonderful collection of Scandi-only toys but it all looks far too high maintenance for me!

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  21. Beth commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:16pm

    I totally understand!! We struggle with this, too. Bought a skip hop playmate which is actually quite subdued and pretty (and our guy loved it). But our big ugly is the fisher price jumperoo. He LOVED it (and actually, 11 months later still likes it), so I’m glad we got it. But man is it gaudy! Fortunately we are very into cars and blocks and books now!!

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  22. Miranda commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:16pm

    I can relate, horror of horrors I have the swing and bouncy seat to match your playmat! :) I endure the swing because it was a great deal AND because it is electric!
    I am 6 months pregnant with my 6th child so this is what I’ve learned, these swings, bouncers and playmates really don’t stay a staple in my living room for very long. He may be crawling in 3-5 months and that mat will no longer entertain him. Just enjoy the fact that you boy is content and non colicky to enjoy it while you get some other things done. I still try to limit the obnoxious toys or only keep them til they no longer entertain but it does get better! In a a very short amount of time. You are a great momma, you’ll realize one day that you started not to care so much because your priorotes do change! :)

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  23. Tif Smith commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:16pm

    I am so there with you, really. I never wanted to have all the light up, battery powered, NOISE in my house. Those toys are relegated to whatever grandparents and friends purchase; we tend to buy wooden toys and hand-made goodies instead. All the plastic stuff fits in one bin and it’s the “special” bin for cranky times or sick times or when the grandparents come to visit. They have become treats. Sometimes, they also come in the car with us because my youngest (16 months) thinks the car is evil and absolutely hates it. Fun times.

    Babies never play with what you expect them to. Pots and pans, keys, your cell phone, the dog bowl. Not the soft blocks and pretty stuffed animals you want to play together with as an adult! It’s just the way things are. Hahaha.

    My youngest wants to play with all the big boy toys (my oldest is 4): monster trucks, dirt, the broom, Octonauts.

    We watch a bit of Wallykazam. Octonauts is another favorite. And, yes, Yo Gabba Gabba.
    Tif Smith´s last blog post ..Hello world!

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  24. Clara commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:19pm

    Haha, I’m expecting my firstborn son and we share the same thoughts. I just read this post by NO A4 today and thought: yay, now that’s stylish, I want a similar one: http://no-a4.blogspot.fi/2014/05/gym-balls.html.
    Then I saw your post and thought that that’s probably more realistic. ;)

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  25. Christina Lembo //Franny & Franky Designs commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:21pm

    OMG can I ever relate. I was all about sustainable wood rattles made of acacia and organic blankets sewn by blind nuns in soothing hues that perfectly matched my walls… but yeah, the thing he liked the most was his play mat and his equally atrocious rainforest bouncer. Oh and the jumperoo! I went around singing the songs from that thing for three straight months. But I had to embrace it because… well, number 1, it doesn’t last forever, and number 2, if he could be contained and entertained for even 5 minutes it was a blessing!

    Some other ideas are sensory baskets – put a bunch of stuff you already have into a basket – something soft like a blankie or a scarf, a wooden spoon, something shiny (and too large to swallow), a hairbrush, etc. – and let him grab what he feels like and explore textures. Also any book he can crinkle or touch is great. We bought a tag blanket off Etsy (I’m so not a sewer) that he loved for a good long while.

    And NO his brain will not fry from some TV :)

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  26. Christina Lembo //Franny & Franky Designs commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:22pm

    Oh and laying him outside on a blanket and blowing bubbles was always a hit :)

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  27. nicole commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:24pm

    My daughter’s now 4 and we have that same playmat. I am not an interior designer, but do find joy in arranging/decorating and strongly dislike plastic toys. That being said, my daughter loved this playmat too and it made me happy to see her enjoying it, so it stayed in our living room, annoying music and all. :) The good news is, he’ll only use it for a couple months, then you can store it. We’ve managed to keep some toys/books in our living room in baskets stored in furniture which works well. It’s total doable to have toys you’re not too fond of, that your kid likes, and store them (mostly) out of sight. We do occasionally get the gift of large, bright pink princess houses, which, after a few weeks of play in living area get put in the corner of the room. :)

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  28. Kate commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:29pm

    Grab 2 clippy boxes and fill one with uncooked pasta, and the other with uncooked rice for baby to learn to shake and hear the different sounds.

    Grab a small clear water bottle and half fill with water. Add food colouring for interest – you could make a few in different colours.

    Make your own feely books, drawing your own pictures and sticking on bits of different materials from around the house.

    These kinds of things are all going to require you to play with baby, since he won’t necessarily be strong or coordinated enough to lift and shake on his own, but it will entertain him and develop him. As far as you’re concerned, it will give you chance to be a bit creative, and being made at home toys, you just take then apart when you’re done with them – no clutter, no money spent, no waste made.

    My little boy also loved different coloured ribbons from my sewing box – I just held them all above him, let him experience the different colours and textures. It’s the simple things really. Do a few of these kinds of activities and you end up seeing things around your house in a different way!

    Good site for ideas – http://www.thestay-at-home-momsurvivalguide.com/p/infant-activities.html

    Hope this helps!

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  29. Vicki commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:30pm

    Haha Holly this post made me laugh!! I had the exact convo with my husband on the weekend re this exact mat. They’re hideous but all my friends insist this mat is a must have for when my newborn is not so new. We were also gifted a Fisher Price automated rocking chair which is covered in the ugliest ‘under the sea’ motifs imaginable. My sister says it saved her life. It hurts my eyes just to see it!! X

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  30. Sue commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:32pm

    My kids are 9 and 11 but I remember having a similar play mat. In the grand scheme of things that mat will only have a few months of use so tolerate it for now. Once he’s able to sit by himself then the mat isn’t as much fun. Then he’s mobile and the mat is history. As much as we hope the kids to play with the nice Haba or Selecta infant toys, sometimes it’s a regular object that they’d prefer. Somehow my oldest was handed a red plastic spatula to hold and it became his and never got back to the kitchen.

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  31. Giulia commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:41pm

    I just want to say one thing – never judge a parent for the choices they make. I was always certain that we wouldn’t have the primary coloured toys, never watch TV, etc. But you adapt to what works for you and your child, and if an bright play mat does the trick then work with it. It won’t last that long and you’ll be able to move on to the next thing. I never had one of those baby swings for my daughter, but I had to get one for my son, since it was the only way he would fall asleep during the day…sigh.
    You live in a country that also offers beautifully crafted toys and once he passes some milestones, you’ll be able to focus more on those than the bright ones ;)
    Giulia´s last blog post ..White Pizza with Asparagus, Mushroom, Tomato and Basil Drizzle

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  32. Jill commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 4:55pm

    New mom here (baby is 8 months), and I think I’d rather have a happy baby than worry about if the toy is “ugly” or not! Most of the toys that my daughter loves are honkin’ big, play loud music, and clash with all of our decorations, but it’s hilarious watching her scream with delight every time she’s playing. We’ve also kind of designated an area in her room where we cram everything she’s not playing with at the moment. Just enjoy the playtime and shove everything in the closet when you have guests over ;)

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  33. Kelly commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:05pm

    He will grow and before long the jungle gym will be given to another baby with a designer mom. Let him enjoy it, a few months is not long. There are many, many creative toys available now made of wood and other materials and you will discover them all with him. Check the local museum or nature store, usually some great toys there. Fischer Price is known for loud and ugly toys, all thought out and no room for the kids imagination. The old fashioned stuff is usually the best. You can make some mobiles with materials you like. Kids do like color, it is stimulating for their growing brains, but they can learn to like good color.

    I had 3 kids, 2 of them are now artists.

    Your son is beautiful.

    All the best, Kelly

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  34. Kate commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:06pm

    PS. Also helpful to you and your readers may be this, on toy rotation – http://thelittlestories.com/how-to-rotate-toys/

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  35. Brandy commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:09pm

    Ah yes ugly plastic toys, you’ll have to deal with some but not all toys have to be. I find that buying some quality Eco friendly wooden toys that are designed to be friendlier on the eye helps. I also don’t buy gender specific toys, I have a baby girl & not everything has to be pink & purple! Being in Germany you must have access to lovely toys, non?
    I say pick your battles, children love bright & flashy.

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  36. Natasja commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:09pm

    You could try more natural looking toys like Sophie the Giraffe and Pebble Child. But I’m afraid that you might have to accept bright colours for now, young children seem to be quite fond of them.

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  37. Tina commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:15pm

    Holly I feel your pain. I have an 11 week old daughter and had to succumb to that very same mat. It works, i find myself talking out loud while working to entertain her and she loves the pandora lullaby medley station, its pop music set to medleys. Babies love mirrors and faces, so i create a collage of baby faces to entertain as well. I have a 15 year old son and not much has changed since then. Good luck trying to keep the decor stylish with the little cutie around. Cheers!

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  38. cheyenne commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:20pm

    The sad fact is that the plastic infant freaky toy is only the first in a long line of turn-a-blind-eye-if-it-makes-him-happy things you will encounter… I remember the first time we put one of those black and white baby block things in front of ours, she literally started vibrating, eyes wide, panting, hands flipping back and forth. It was like here head was going to explode. Not sure what it is with that baby stuff but they love it. Ours played with various kitchen implements: silicone basting brush and spatulas, wooden spoons, crumpled pieces of wax paper, and as soon as she could stand/pull up on stuff, we let her have free reign of the plastic container drawer in the kitchen. Periodically, I’d “salt” it with unusual things for her to find and she’s be pretty happy about that. I second the lego suggestion: big ones for little babies and then normal ones once they are 2-3-ish and not likely to swallow them.

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  39. Rachel Aguilar commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:27pm

    Just wait until you are ready for an exersaucer.. those things are hideous. I think maybe it is your calling to design something that isn’t obnoxious. I’d be the first to buy!

    Here are some not so ugly jumpers and walkers- ( research first because I’ve heard time in them should be limited.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Jolly-Jumper-with-Stand/dp/B000JPYEJY/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1399994744&sr=8-17&keywords=jumper

    http://www.amazon.com/Joovy-122-Spoon-Walker-Greenie/dp/B008BGNT3A/ref=sr_1_1?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1399994790&sr=1-1&keywords=joovy+walker

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  40. Ana commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:32pm

    I totally agree with you!! I was also freaking out when – yes 11 years ago – I had my living room crammed with toddler toys and my house turned upsdie down. Not stylish at all. In the end, that’s what we did, as it wouldn’t be fair to have the baby alone in the bedroon while we were in the living room: he had the toys he needed and nothing else, meaning that whatever wasn’t being used would be returned to his room immediately!
    After he grew up, he’s not allowed to play in the living room – ok, he can have something small but not the whole Hot Wheels driving lanes! We hopefully managed to get him to learn that he has his own space and that he’s more than welcome in the living room. But for now, with Aindan’s age, I think you’ll have to get used to it. But don’t worry! Unfortunatelly, time flies by with these sweet babies so you’ll get rid of the ugly toys soon!!
    Ps – Legos are allowed everywhere!
    Ana´s last blog post ..7 anos é uma carrada de tempo

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  41. Elisabeth commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:32pm

    I would not worry too much about his fascination for that plastic rainforest right now. Soon he will start moving and will be interested in everything whether it is a toy or not. From my experience some rattles and some wooden stuff to chew on will be sufficient for the first year. But if you arelooking for some creative and educational play ideas, maybe a PEKIP class or book would be inspiring. Montessori style toys are nice looking and interesting too (there is a large Montessori moms community online that provides tons of ideas, e.g. how we montessori)

    Elisabeth (who is waiting for the day her children discover Angry Birds and Hello Kitty)

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  42. michele commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:35pm

    I can totally relate. The good news is, the need for all this “stuff” is short lived. We lived in a small Boston condo and I had an exersaucer and a bumbo chair and other stuff and it was all invaluable. Within months, I was able to pass it on. I recommend getting stuff second hand and then passing it on. The amount of plastic stuff for babies out there in the universe is a bit overwhelming.

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  43. Rachel B commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:41pm

    The market is pretty limited for the under 3 set! At my daycare, we re-purpose household items when we can. I’ve seen 18 month olds be transfixed by wallets with zippers, and old stationary boxes. Anything that moves strangely can spark a lot calm interest. We have a fuzzy puppet with strings that comes out before particularly hectic lunch times. It totally turns the day around (almost) every time! That said, the most “interesting” thing at this age is the human face. Enjoy it!

    Another favorite tip I’ve learned over the year is to have special toys for times that may be stressful, like car trips or even the changing table. The novelty/distraction factor helps a lot!

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  44. rachel commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:42pm

    Sorry, I’m commenting twice but just recalled these cute wooden play gyms on etsy. You can attach the toys of your liking.

    http://etsy.me/1jXRgoF

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  45. Lisa commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:46pm

    You’ll learn to “embrace” a lot of things in the next 20 years!

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  46. Ana commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:48pm

    I have 2 kids, 4 and 2 years old. Unfortunately there’s no way around the colorful and plastic toys… They get everywhere!! At least they get to be updated to their better versions, like lego and playmobil later on (still a mess, but…)
    About the video, don’t get me wrong, but I see no reason whatsoever why he should watch something, he’s only 3 months old, way too early, in my opinion…

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  47. Reenie Hanlin commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 5:59pm

    It’s all about balance, mama. You are still in the survival stages, so if having a few obnoxious toys keeps everyone happy, who cares? There are a lot of really cute Waldorf toys out there too. Colorful but all natural.
    My girls watched videos when they were babes, especially if it kept them quiet, (just not constantly), and they are now brilliant teenagers. No fried brains. Well, at least not THEIR brains. Mine may have been permanently scarred from too much Barney and Disney music. haha.

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  48. Rebecca Zarazan Dunn commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:01pm

    Just wait until he’s old enough to turn the house upside down, wipe boogers on the couch, and decorate the house in crayon :)

    Unfortunately, toys that kids enjoy tend to be eyesores. We own that exact activity mat that you purchased. Both of my girls love(d) it. My best advice is find easy storage solutions, multiple places around the house that you can stash toys in once playtime is over. As a mom of 2 little girls and a youth librarian to many families with these same questions, I whipped up a few recommendations for you regarding your quarries.

    Play for a 3-month-old: Bravo for making faces and singing to your boy. Adult interactions is THE BEST developmental activity for wee ones. Talking to them about what they see, singing, silly faces… It’s all good. I totally understand how hard it is to “be on” every minute of the day for your kids. It’s exhausting. For me, I need at least 15 minutes to have a cup of coffee in the morning or else… I’m a monster. Fortunately, a lot of play toys can be found around the house or made on the cheap. I recently put together this pinboard of ideas from youth librarians: http://www.pinterest.com/bzzybee/baby-tactile-activities/. My 6-month old also enjoys these stacking cups (http://www.fisher-price.com/en_US/brands/babytoys/products/38607) a lot lately and it’s a toy they can grow into.

    Screen time and babies: Real talk. This is an extremely controversial topic. I recommend talking to your pediatrician on your next well-check, but also doing a little research on your own. You’re the parent, so it’s automatically your call :) The AAP recommends children 0-2 years of age have zero screen time whatsoever (http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/pages/media-and-children.aspx). That said, I encourage you to read Lisa Gurnsey’s book SCREEN TIME ( http://www.lisaguernsey.com/Screen-Time.htm). There is little evidence that screens have “brain frying” effects, but I strongly encourage parents to explore the information and evidence on their own. I’ve never met a kid that wasn’t drawn to a glowing screen, but there are several factors at play when using digital media with children that I feel is important to be aware of.

    Geez… Longest response ever! If you need more play suggestions, book recommendations, or have questions, feel free to email me!
    Rebecca Zarazan Dunn´s last blog post ..Every Day is Storytime

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  49. samantha commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:02pm

    this post makes me chuckle, I recently visited my step daughter who has a baby of 6 months now, and while looking for a glass in her kitchen cupboard, out spilled a whole landslide of brightly coloured baby Paraphernalia, if it squeaks rattles or is of a garish colour babies love it. Baby has taken over life as we know it, Its just one of those things, wait until you find yourself humming baby rhymes down the supermarket aisle…..

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  50. Katja commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:06pm

    Hi Holly,

    yeah, I know what you mean – with two kids, our home did look like Toys’R’Us for a long time, but at least we’ve managed to get most of the toys out of the living room and into the kids’ rooms by now.

    At 3 months, our baby girl had “Sophie La Giraffe” – that’s a toy that actually does look quite stylish and is supposed to be good for them (at least it’s made of materials that do not have the bad stuff in it). It does make some loud squeaking noises, so if you can stand that better than the music playing in your head all day (I can totally relate to that!!!), it might be an idea ;-)

    There used to be Lego Primo, really large Lego for little kids that even has rattles and stuff in it, but I’m not sure if it’s still being sold – you may want to try eBay. We still have some left over, so if you don’t find any, let me know.

    Your little boy is really adorable, it’s great to hear that you’ve come into your “mother’s role” so well. All the best for you!

    Katja
    Katja´s last blog post ..Instagram Review April 2014

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  51. Carolyn Simsarian commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:08pm

    Don’t wait too long to introduce him to books! “Pat the Bunny” is still a favorite with tactile opportunities–”feel Daddy’s scratchy face”. Babies love it and so do moms and dads. Glad you got over it and allowed the play mat. Have enjoyed the blog since you were in New Hampshire. Carolyn

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  52. giulia commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:10pm

    Hi Holly,
    I’m the mum of a 3 months old baby girl. I totally agree with you: I hate plastic and noisy toys for kids too.
    Now Agnese is playing with an ikea wooden gym and she really loves it. We also have some German :) rattles (also in wood). I think they are nice and not so flashy. My living room has not become a plastic playground .

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  53. Michele commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:11pm

    Material was really interesting for my baby around that age. She loved silk scarves, carpet swatches, tweed, etc. She would touch it and play with it. We also walked around a lot looking at things. We went to the mall almost every day. She liked the lights and whatever else she could see. I also would put her on a quilt with baby books, mirrors, and rattles. She would try to squirm towards them. For little babies I think it’s pretty easy for them to be entertained as long as you are with them but to just let them sit there content by themselves…you probably need a plastic annoying mat. ;)

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  54. lucia commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:11pm

    Babies are attracted by primary colours. So you may buy a beautiful wooden toy with beautiful soft colors but your baby probably will not want to play with them!!
    Maybe when he is bigger you can have some wooden toys or soft toys with nice designs. I would love to have more of those for my childrens but they are a miracle around here, what you will find out more are the cheap China plastic toys (they are even more awful as the Fisher price or similar brand toys and they break in 5 minutes).
    You might not buy them but when they have the Birthday party is what they probably get!!! so what would you do? say “no thanks I don’t like my child to play with those China toys”?!!! ….
    I think some beautiful boxes are the solution!!!! Hide them as you can!!! ;)
    lucia´s last blog post ..Slideshow

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  55. Emily commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:30pm

    Hey Holly–
    I remember those days well. My daughter loved the play gym, but that was the only thing that would keep her happy for a few minutes without me holding her. Ten years later, I now realize what an extrovert she is and how much she craves constant human interaction. It was there all along. We always had rattles and things like that, but the gym was the best. A baby sling/ pack was also helpful. A thought—-what about making friends with a sweet neighbor kid, a little older, who likes babies? My kids as babies were always thrilled to have interaction with other kids. That definitely gave me more of a break when number 1 kid played with baby number 2. A neighbor friend or mother’s helper might be fun for all.

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  56. Emily commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:32pm

    Also, at around that age we bought a decent-looking trunk that we stashed the toys in at the end of the day. That kept us feeling like our house wasn’t Romper Room.
    Emily´s last blog post ..Why May Is Like December

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  57. Sandra commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:32pm

    your baby is so sweet!
    I don’t have kids, but I remember coming across a really neat collection of kids toys at GreenerGrassDesign.com that are beautifully designed… Places like Pottery Barn might also give a less “primary colour” options which still engage your baby – enjoy the journey! ;)

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  58. Zuzana commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:35pm

    I asked my parents to get this one for my newborn son: http://www.skiphop.com/product/alphabetzoo_activitygym.html I have exactly same feelings about my home and plastic colourful toys! But I will most probably need to learn to tolerate some amount of those as well :)

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  59. The Daydreamer commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:46pm

    Hi Holly and thank you for making me laught today :-) I totally relate to your experience and when we got AS A PRESENT a more-than-plastic plastic carousel to hang over the bed (not sure how it is called in English), I thought I was going to give it away the next day. Well. Nope. The thing is still there. Smiling at me. Other than that, my two babies play mostly with toys that are not…toys: plastic bottle, iPhone plastic cases (ok, plastic is still in the game), canvases (if you can believe it), tupperware (they loooove those), empty baby bottles etc. So I stopped buying altogether and the only new things they get most of the time are presents from family (thankfully, not all of them ugly). Good luck in surviving the invasion then! Hugs to you and your family.
    The Daydreamer´s last blog post ..My Favorite Sleep Elixirs {With a Straw}

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  60. Holly Hudson commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 6:51pm

    Holly,
    You sound most similar to my oldest daughter …. her sons are 4 & 2. They didn’t want those type of toys in their living area either….but guess what, peace of mind, time for your self to ‘create’, surf the business world, answer important emails/calls/text is probably what you need, also. She owns her own business, too…..and well, those boys now are her first delight.

    She adjusted….and please realize these mats/toys with lullabys are only going to interest Aidan for a brief few weeks….and then you’ll purchase or receive as gifts the next level of baby consumerism….before you know it, Aidan will be cruising from chair to sofa to end table….and everything gets put up high. Life is good with a baby, we were blessed with five babies in less than 9 years…..and today they’re 25-33.
    Holly

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  61. Rebecca Jones commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 7:16pm

    Hi Holly, I have two boys and I totally understand what you’re saying about toys taking over. It drives me nuts. Try making a treasure basket full of everyday objects with different textures and materials. So a nail brush, a metal teaspoon, a wooden egg, so pieces of fabric in different colours and textures, chiffon scarves in bright colours for playing peek a boo, some bells, a string if big beads, a space blanket, a plastic bottle full of lentils, dried beans etc to shake and roll. He’ll probably enjoy it more when he can sit up and explore the things himself a bit more, but until then you can show him things. Hope that helps. Rebecca. Ps mine used to love baby Einstein on YouTube x

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  62. Mady commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 7:22pm

    Dear Holly, I feel exactly the same. And guess what… I resist all those things. Well… mostly :D. And my babygirl is only 9 months old so I guess it will be worse…
    And you cant always avoid colors. But you can avoid too many of them, plastics and ugly strange whatevers :))

    But – to the place mat. I had a colorful one. But oon it was too small, as my daughter started to explore a world, so I replaced it with a soft knitted blaked (beige).

    You know what? Babies have quite bad sight in first weeks maybe months. So they first see white and black the best So I bought these: http://www.ookidoo.com/cz/miminka/hracky-pro-miminko/art-cards-farma-wegac02/ and she still likes it.

    Check also djeco – very nice toys.
    And check also http://www.3sprouts.com/. I bought some of their storage boxesand bins. One we have in a living room, so its very easy and quick to have all those baby toys hidden.

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  63. Nadine commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 7:47pm

    I love the wooden toys from Grimm´s – the colours are beautiful and they also fit in a stylish home…..our boys loves them. And an alternative to the activity center you have would be a plainer one, e.g. from Hess (Hess Baby Trapez). Best to you and your sweet Aidan! *Nadine

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  64. Lotti Rosenthal commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:14pm

    Oh Holly, I’m actually so happy you did buy this “thing”. Going through some bloggers websites and Instagram pages I always wonder if their babies really enjoy playing with those white giant Lego-like cubes with golden polka dots. Because mine wouldn’t. And I secretly thought that I hope they hide the real fun toys for the fotos. ;) the most haba toys are cute but there are just a few cool looking toys. I think a good way to hide them in a stylish way is a big basket with a lid. It’s easy to throw everything in an voila no colorful plastic mess anymore. You are a fab mom!

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  65. diana commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:23pm

    I’m with you on the decoration bit. But babys need to find out about colour and texture. Themain way they do that is by putting it in their mouth. So if you take that into account you can give him normal household stuff…it’s more interesting for them than 20 plastic toys that all feel and sound the same!

    I always gave my girls things i had at hand ( wooden spoon, egg boxes, almost finished kitchen paper roll, pan lids, a small kitchen sieve, a sponge… anything I felt was safe for them to play with. I remember at 6 months, my oldest daughter’s favorite toy was my set of keys. I bought a plastic set for her, as I didn’t like the idea of those metal keys wandering into her mouth all the time, But she had no interest in the plastic version at all!
    diana´s last blog post ..Fin

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  66. decor8 commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:28pm

    Thera,

    I like the screen idea…

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  67. All things nice... commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:28pm

    Hi Holly,

    This post made me laugh. I have no kids but I always had (well to be honest I still have) this idea that if I had children it would be wooden toys, books and teddy bears all the way. However, I have come to realize that in reality this doesn’t happen. Books are a definite though! I just think of the big large plastic toys and think of how they can’t be recycled and what they are made of. I also have this thing about kids and TV so I would prefer music on the radio, a tape or a bedtime story- I’m really living in an ideal world here- my own little childless bubble :)

    All things nice…
    All things nice…´s last blog post ..Are you a dedicated follower of fashion…

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  68. decor8 commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:31pm

    kinga,
    Good idea about the shower – I put Aidan in our Baby Bjorn and he watches me shower, then he gets bored looking at me and starts playing with his hands.

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  69. Francine from Callaloo Soup commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:42pm

    Mady,

    Oh yes! Djeco toys are great!
    Francine from Callaloo Soup´s last blog post ..Filofax Friday | Stationery Love and a Giveaway

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  70. Jennifer commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:51pm

    I don’t have children (just cats), but this post made me giggle. I’m pretty sure I would feel the same way, though, and I love your admission of admonishment for modern baby toys. Thanks for keeping it real.

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  71. Sandra commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 8:56pm

    My daughters both loved their baby gyms too!!! My eldest daughter used to like those bouncer things which fit to a door frame and they both enjoyed sitting in a baby rocker as they were more upright and could check out what was going on around them. Good luck!

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  72. Carolina Mello commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 9:12pm

    Loved the post!
    I also have a baby of 8 months at home!
    The house actually seen them, but anything worthwhile to see them happy! However, the “game” that is most successful is the TV remote, and today, a can of powdered milk that runs everywhere and makes noise!

    Kisses,
    Carolina Mello

    Carolina Mello´s last blog post ..Suculentas

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  73. Libby commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 9:15pm

    Oh Holly, that is wonderful! and welcome to the world of “compromise”!! My daughter loved loved the swing that we set up in the doorway, or I think there’s one that’s free standing and you wind it to go back and forth and play awful music. Put her in a trance every time.
    The one thing I am SO glad she never, ever wanted was a “binkie”. No ma’am, I couldn’t have one of those attached to my baby, and I was lucky she had no interest. Plastic toys, I know, but what are you going to do?
    Libby´s last blog post ..IT’S LOCAL: TEA AT THE CAROLINA INN

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  74. Stephanie Gerard commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 9:34pm

    Hi Holly,

    The thing is that babies sight develops over months and what they can see from the first moment on is the color red.
    Minutes after my daughter was born I made a test and held a big fat bright red PaperMaché heart in front of her and she imediately started smiling, it was amazing.
    That is why babies love colors so much.
    And there are a lot of tasteful colorful toys that move and make bareable sounds out there on the market that integrate perfectly in designer homes!

    Best of luck with your cute little baby boy!

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  75. Megan@meandwee commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 9:57pm

    I totally hear you. I hated all the plastic stuff; but it worked so well! I’ve learned to embrace it. Don’t worry, the playmat gets outgrown pretty quickly and then you won’t have it around. (and then you’ll actually feel sad about it). You are in the conundrum of babyhood…how to entertain them when they are too young to really play much. It’s a challenge for all of us, I promise. That’s why so many moms start to lose their minds and complain, lol! You can’t beat stimulation like going outside to just look around. Everything is new to him and it takes very little to cause a lot of exhaustion on their part. Don’t let all the noise and lights cause OVER-stimulation…then you get a baby that has a hard time falling asleep for naps or bedtime. At the stage he’s at I would just have a continuous rotation of household items that are safe for him to mouth and hold. Other than that, it’s a rotation from the mat to the chair to the lap/arms to the stroller, to the crib, to the bath, repeat, repeat, repeat. They love watching the world, so strap that baby on you and do your laundry, go for walks, the zoo, the park, etc. and that will count as playing. Chatting with him and singing to him will be good interaction during all that. It can feel like you aren’t doing enough or should be doing more, but remember you are doing PLENTY!!!!!
    Megan@meandwee´s last blog post ..My girl

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  76. Kathrin from Happy Home commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:02pm

    Dear Holly,

    welcome to motherhood. Kids love colors. Your son can only see primary colours at the moment. And babies love the plastic because it is lightweight and they can pick it up and they will take it into their little mouths. Try putting something made of wood into your mouth….. . That’s why he loves this set so much. But I totally hear you. :-) Designwise eeeekkkk

    I do agree with Diane. Everything out of your kitchen its great tupperware, Rice (denmark not the staple), Spoons…..

    I love the IKEA MULA http://www.ikea.com/de/de/catalog/products/80021008/ (they go different directions, they are great with water and sand. if I could have choosen one plaything for that famous Islandquestion, this would have been it.

    And my Kids loved this Kugelbahn (I am not sure how this is called in English)
    In one year Bob the Builder and Thomas the train will move in and in 6 years some laser swords and star wars figures. You better invest in beautiful baskets and boxes ;-)

    Kathrin
    Kathrin from Happy Home´s last blog post ..Der süßeste Flagshipstore der Welt: ByGraziela

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  77. Nadia commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:03pm

    Haha, I can completely relate. I have a 2 and half year old and I received a free gift from a catalogue company, a hideous lime green ‘safari’ tent which was just an eyesore. I set it up for him, much to my husband’s surprise but it just bugged me everyday. I put a sheepskin rug in it with cushions and tried to cover it with a Moroccan blanket, but no lime green still showed through….its going to a charity shop tomorrow. I can’t help it. In my defence my toddler played with it for a total of 5 minutes and then got bored, so…

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  78. maks commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:04pm

    Hi Holly,
    I completely understand how you feel regarding some abnoxiously bright and ugly  toys, but you won’t be able to ban them all ;-). Someone will give your little guy something you will hate and he will love and you should respect that, as difficult as it may be. How about you get some cool crates or boxes that fit your aesthetics and hide the toys when they are not in use. Most kids at that age love vibrant colors since they can’t differentiate the soft hues yet. But as you do with Aiden’s room you can certainly try to interest him in toys you like style wise. Here are a few stores with pretty design classics that you might enjoy.

    http://www.frenchblossom.com/333-plush-toys-gift-ideas-for-babies
    http://www.alexandalexa.com/toys-gifts
    http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/kids/toys?id=1000307

    You will surely get too much for him anyway since babies don’t need much to be happy in the first few months. Don’t be disappointed if he doesn’t fall for the cool edu toys ;-). My 3 “babies” each loved something different. Something with different textures that makes some kind of soft noise the baby can grip easily is always good in the beginning. In Germany http://www.jako-o.de (they have some stores,too) has cute and educational toys, if you haven’t checked them out yet. All the best for the 3 of you – maks :-)
    maks´s last blog post ..More Party pics…

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  79. Joanne commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:30pm

    Hi Holly,

    Your post made me chuckle this morning – the best laid plans and all that just get thrown out the window when your delightful bundle arrives in your life!
    Another thing that I learnt was ” never to say never” because invariably it will come back to bite you in the behind!!
    I’m also a great believer in if it feels right for you and your child then go for it. As parents we all live in the ‘real world’ and we need little ‘helpers’ sometimes to just get through the day and if that happens to be placing your child in front of the TV for 10 minutes while you grab a quick shower then so be it! Don’t beat yourself up over it. Everything in moderation!
    Now to your ‘wonderful’ new toy. These are really easy to ‘pimp’ into your own style! Lots of the hanging bits can be detached and you can replace these with other exciting experiences that Aiden will love and you can colour coordinate! Try adding some ribbons of different colours and textures to some of the rings – you can even purchase a small wooden ring sew the ribbons on and then attach via the ring system that is already there. Thin feather boas are another favorite. Blow up some balloons (quite small) and attach these just remember with balloons that they can be a choking hazard so you can only attach these when you are right beside him. You can cover the base mat with other materials or different colours and textures, just simply tuck it in underneath also great for Aiden to experience different textures. buy a lovely chiffon piece that you can see through and throw over the top of the whole structure – great fun for peek a boo. my favourite attachment is buy some small embroidary hoops (either wooden and paint to your desired colours or you can buy pastic ones) stretch some different fabrics of different colours and textures on them and hang from the ring attachments. Hang them low enough so that Aiden can reach up with his little hand and touch them – if he’s not quite doing this yet show him with both of his hands and oh don’t forget his feet! great hand-eye and foot-eye coordination learning for him. make sure that you have the screws tightly fastened especially as he gets a bit bigger and can grab the rings himself. Lastly give him a small light fly swat (purchase a new one just for Aiden) and show him how to hit the balloons or other objects that you have hanging he maybe still a little young but during the next month or so he will begin to love this game. Haha I hope my manuscript gives you some great ideas. Love to hear how it all goes J

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  80. austintx commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:54pm

    Luckily, there are more and more aesthetically pleasing baby toys… I’ve tried to stem the tide of cheesy plastic, but some of it is really fun for the babies and tots.

    At 3 months, a black and white or high-contrast mobile, a baby-safe mirror, and a soft rattle were hits for our little guy. The Manhattan Toy Winkel and Squish were his first favorite toys. The soft stroller toys from SkipHop and Lamaze were great- I vastly prefer the look of the wooden toys, but he kept bopping himself on the head so we packed those away until around 6 months.

    Also around 6 months, he started loving to push around a big truck like the green toys dump truck. Sensory balls are great. The Fisher Price bus was one of his all-time favorites. And DUPLO bricks.

    We also have loved several of the wooden items from Plan Toys – the ball dropper and shape sorter. The wooden toys from A Summer Afternoon (Etsy) are beautiful, but for around 8 mos and up.

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  81. sabrina commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 10:59pm

    I have a two month old and I couldn’t agree with you more. We have the tree top play mat which has birds and owls and squirrels in it and then there is a random dinosaur there! At least if you are going to make a horrible bright colored mat that I have to stare at then make it correct. It is the only toy like that we have because the way I figure it the kid was trapped in a black muffled water ballon for nine months so everything is stimulating! I really like the stylish handmade toys at Petite Bazaar and will probably be gravitating toward those once he realizes he has hands and that they can used for play. Little kids are happy with cardboard boxes and empty 2-liter coke bottles so no need to go crazy buying all of Toys R Us. You just end up cluttering your house and head. Read the book “Simplicity Parenting” for more helpful tips and ideas. I really enjoyed it!

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  82. Katie commented
    May 13th, 2014 at 11:37pm

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  83. Nancy commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 12:02am

    In the course of his childhood, you’ll ive up more than just the living room decoration for this little guy! And TV is a godsend for stressed out moms. Obviously you don’t plop him in front of it for hours on end.

    The only rule to stick to with children is not to have any hard and fast rules. If the rule doesn’t fit the situation, change the rule.

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  84. K Picou commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 12:13am

    Yes, kids love flashy toys. Also, adults love junk food. Neither are necessary; some restraint is required :) Kids are interested in things that are new to them or provide a new experience/sensation. Babies that age also enjoy being placed so that they can watch the action.

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  85. Erin Frost commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 1:30am

    Holly,
    We did not do any plastic toys. I carefully informed my family that we appreciate the thought but prefer books and crafts as gifts. I passed along anything plastic, noisy, or garish as soon as he went to bed.
    I used this play mat toy, http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/70108177/

    We loved these videos for downtime. They are designed for babies and carefully composed for screen time for babies (and much researched), the music is fantastic, Baby IQ, http://www.amazon.com/Brainy-Baby-The-World-Around

    We passed on a bouncer and instead used a door swing by Haba in a neutral color. We used this play area, http://www.amazon.com/North-States-Superyard-Wood-Gate. We used low, round, woven baskets with toys that I rotated each morning. I used soft books, simple wooden cars and trucks (http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-4051-Stacking-Cars), animal sound blocks (http://www.melissaanddoug.com/farm-sound-learning-blocks), plan toy pull toys (http://www.amazon.com/Plan-Toys-5108-Pull-Along-Snail), blocks in wood tones.

    We moved up to these toys as soon as he wanted something more.
    http://www.habausa.com/products/toddler-toys.html?p=2
    http://usa.plantoys.com/product/function/baby-toys/
    http://www.bellalunatoys.com/natural-baby-toys/wooden-toddler-toys.html

    We don’t practice Waldorf of Montessori but I did borrow and enjoy the clean aesthetic they promote. So I would often peruse their parent sites for simple ideas. I had containers for him to practice opening and closing, matryoshka style stacking dolls, buckles and latches for him to develop hand coordination. Lots of simple little things can be repurposed for babies.

    But mostly, we walked and explored the city every day, going out in the morning and afternoon regardless of weather. I always carried a few toys in my stroller for the sand box or park. Like these: http://www.montessoriservices.com/small-garden-hand-tools, http://www.montessoriservices.com/small-metal-pail, and http://www.amazon.com/Plan-City-Road-Construction-Set, and for the beach, http://www.amazon.com/Green-Toys-5512755-Recycling-Truck.

    I loved the plan toys wooden city collection and wooden trains (not Thomas), I purchased these used on ebay and then resold them for the same amount 2 years later.
    My guy loved his riding toys, http://www.magiccabin.com/toddler-push-and-ride-toys/toddler-push-and-ride-toys.htm and http://www.amazon.com/Prince-Lionheart-Wheely-Ladybug-Small. He still rides his wheely cow today and he’s 6.

    Enjoy, and stick with your gut. If it feels like it doesn’t work with your home, it doesn’t, and he won’t suffer with less.

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  86. Diane C. commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 3:26am

    I totally understand- only it’s the noisy toys that irk me. But my daughter, now two, loves them.
    We never got into the playmat- I never got around to getting one and by the time someone gave us one, my daughter wasn’t interested. Though we used the musical part to distract her on he r changing table during diaper changes. What worked for us was propping her in the Boppy in front of a mirror. She loved cooing to herself. She also loved grasping toys and bells- I was inspired by a lot of ?Montessori infant toys. And also black and white books – she love d staring at those.

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  87. Julia commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 3:52am

    After reading the comments – please, please do not buy one of the recommended exersaucers, they are dangerous at the worst and bad for Aidans hips and motor skills at the best. In fact, I think they might even be banned in Germany…?

    And I met a child at our gym who loved his jumpy-thingy for the doorframe so much, he wouldn’t crawl, but instead jump on the spot whenever he could feel something underneath his feet for months. I found that quite disturbing, to be honest. And so not worth the extra 15 minutes of “free time” per day.

    Back to topic… everyday stuff was quite popular with our little guy and of course watching everything I did. I know it’s not necessarily an option while cooking or sitting in front of a screen, but have you tried carrying him (as in a wrap/sling/carrier, such as Manduca, ergobaby)? They do come in a variety of colors and can be quite stylish… Our little guy LOVED (actually, LOVES) it and it cheers him up and calms him down even when he’s very, very unhappy. It’s also a great exercise for their neck and back muscles at this age, and as a bonus, an extra bonding time for you or your husband.

    Oh and an absolute hit for months were empty plastic bottles or containers filled with dry pasta, rice or lentils – e.g. cheap shakers. He always picked them over his “normal” toys.

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  88. Shari commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 5:28am

    Our baby loves the wooden IKEA play gym which is also beautiful to look at and not too expensive.

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  89. Lia commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 5:58am

    AAP recommends no screen time at all (even educational) for children under 2. I’ve read some articles about it related to developmental delays, and that they aren’t ready to process things coming through the screen. Other reasons too. Thought I’d share this post below- I thought it was helpful. Not just about no screen time, but gives great ideas on keeping babies and young children interested in play.

    http://www.mamanatural.com/how-to-raise-a-low-media-child/

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  90. stephanie commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 6:28am

    We had our first baby last November and have purchased these 2 slightly more tolerable versions of the play gym and the bouncer. The wooden play gym I love and as long as the toys added are exciting, he’ll hang there for awhile. We just received the Merry Muscles 2 days ago, so we’ll see how that one goes.

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/178391927/mahogany-veneer-coated-baby-gym-wooden?ref=listing-shop-header-2

    http://www.amazon.com/Merry-Muscles-Jumper-Exerciser-Bouncer/dp/B003GESITW

    I’m aiming to stay strong against big, ugly toys, but it helps we live in a teeny apartment without a lot of room for them! That stage is hard, where they don’t grasp toys and do much independently yet, but it gets better quickly! Even at 6 months, our son sits only with assistance but can chew on Sophie or shake a toy a bit on his own in his high chair etc. I’d love to see a compiled post on what you find works for you!

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  91. Johanna commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 8:39am

    Oh, I can so understand!!! Can’t the manufacturers make baby things that please the eyes of the parents, too??? When my daughter was small I totally refused to buy her anything that makes artificial noise. She did receive some of such stuff as presents, but they did disappear into the closets and were recycled even rather quickly because I was so allergic to those melodies… No, it’s probably not possible to keep the baby’s room styled perfectly with matching toys in the future either, but it helps a little to have a beautiful storage space for all those awfully colored items. Investing in pretty baskets and boxes of all kinds helps to select only those esthetically pleasing items visible…

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  92. Robin commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 8:41am

    This post made my day! Thanks for the memories.

    I am looking forward to being a grandma with Legos and fairy dolls all over my floor again.

    Although, I can tell you that I sure don’t mind that my house stays clean and tidy these days.

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  93. Jenny Hurren commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 8:52am

    Seriously thought I was alone in this until this morning. I hate toys SO much. My brother (who has three kids) lives in a coloured plastic universe. His house is one of the reasons I continually delay motherhood. Very encouraging reading the comments…

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  94. Linda George commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 9:07am

    Hello there. just came across your blog.
    I totally agree with you on trying to find nice Activity PlayMats. I had trouble to find anything that suited our house. I therefore started my business Stina’s Style facebook.com/stinasstyle
    You can design your own playmate from scratch.

    would love to hear from you.
    cheers,
    Linda

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  95. Laura commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 11:31am

    Don’t worry, you can have a baby AND a beautiful house. The gym will only entertain him for a short while (sorry). Crunchy toys are the best. Does he have a fabric-covered crunchy book? We have one from Germany that our baby loved.

    It seems that babies love faces more than anything. So they’re most entertained by you and by other children. It’s nice to have little kids over, babies love to watch them.

    Don’t worry about the tv, our kids all watched tv and videos and they turned out way smarter than me. So far one is an engineer and one is in med school. (AND we have a baby) So turn on those shows and do not feel guilty. You need a little break now and then. We liked VeggieTales, Sesame Street, and Barney. Yes, Barney. You will grow to love that big purple guy.

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  96. aggi commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 12:41pm

    As you asked: Buy him any toys that he likes and you can tolerate.

    BUT DON`T LET A BABY WATCH TV OR ANYTHING ON SCREEN. And once he is older: Only let him watch movies when you are sitting next to him and you can “discuss” what is happening. And never let him watch more than 20minutes at a time untill he is 3 years old.

    Kids brains aren´t made for coping with fast moving scenes on tiny screens!

    Keep uo the cuddles and don´t worry. All is fine.

    :-)

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  97. aggi commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 12:46pm

    PS.
    great toys are all around, you neednt buy very many:
    shiny, rattling keys. old mobile phones. empty egg cartons. spoons. pots and pans. colourful socks. empty colourful yohurt pots.

    my kids often ignored thei toys and grabbed random stuff to play with.

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  98. Claire commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 1:16pm

    Totally understand where you are coming from. Two recommendations. First, buy the fisher price jumperoo. Totally hideous but my six month old loves it and will happily bounce away whilst I do chores. BTW I bought our one secondhand because I couldn’t face spending so much money on such a horrible looking thing! Second, buy a play nest. Great for when the little one can sit but has a tendancy to topple over. They can sit and play with (wooden!) toys without you worrying about them bumping their head on the wooden floor when they topple! Good luck!

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  99. decor8 commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 1:37pm

    @Aggi – That’s interesting to read that, “children’s brains aren’t made for coping with fast moving scenes on tiny screens”. I’m curious to know more. Can you point me to a source where you found this information?

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  100. decor8 commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 1:48pm

    Lia – Thank you so much, I just look at what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said about this and here is a link. Very good information, my husband and I just read through it. Even though we’ve only watched two episodes of Wallykazam (he sat on my lap and we watched it on my Mac and I sang all of the songs to him and we danced), I will have to really think about this going forward. Thank you!!!!

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  101. decor8 commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 1:52pm

    @Joanne – I don’t think it comes back to bite you, it’s just a learning curve and we all learn as we live and experience new things. Plus we evolve, what we dislike today, we may love tomorrow – no one can fault you for that! :)

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  102. decor8 commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 1:54pm

    @Libby – My son doesn’t want his binkie any more either! He wanted it for a few weeks but now he won’t suck it – he sucks his hands and he just “found” his thumb the other day. I’m so happy he doesn’t want his binkie!

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  103. Heather commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 3:26pm

    At first, my husband and I felt the same way about infant/baby toys and all their etcetera! However, we quickly realized that there are valid reasons for why all their things are so brightly colored and somewhat obnoxious (I won’t dare delve into those reasons for fear of misspeaking!) We held strong and managed to allow only a handful of those ridiculous looking toys into our home- the biggest offenders being a ‘bouncer’ (an infant seat that allows the child to recline, I believe it can also be called a ‘rocker’) and an ‘exersaucer’ (those big round u-f-o looking play sets the child sits in the middle of). We also had plenty of smaller age appropriate toys for a hands on learning experience but we believe that human interaction and play with various (safe!) household objects are a better choice to help our child learn about the world around him. I know how you feel about these toys, however I think maybe you are over-reacting just a tad- this stage of your child’s life is very fleeting and allowing him to enjoy all the wonders is the best part. Toys come and go we have learned, the most important part is giving our child the best opportunities to grow and develop.

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  104. Laura Gaskill commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 3:34pm

    Oh Holly, I definitely relate! We only bought nice organic & wooden toys for Bixby, but DID end up with a very silly, bright play mat and bouncer (& he loved both!), and every time my mother in law came over she would bring some new noise-making plastic toy. I admit I removed the batteries from some as soon as she left the house, but a few still ended up being little B’s favorite toys … you just do what you can!

    At this age (and for the next few years) they are *all* about their senses, so anything you can find that stimulate his senses will probably go over well! Here are a few random things I found that our little guy was interested in, that you might already have laying around…

    - A stack of pretty fabric squares from your stash, especially with different textures, colors, and patterns (just none with beads or small pieces that can come off)
    - A small basket of different textured items from around the house or from the craft store, like a piece of velcro, something soft and fluffy, something silky, something rough and nubby, etc.
    - As he gets a little bigger, make a baby “mountain” to explore with cushions on a soft rug on the floor.

    Good luck, dear Holly! hugs, Laura
    Laura Gaskill´s last blog post ..Streamlining the Cupboards for Summer

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  105. meggles commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 3:53pm

    Love your unvarnished thoughts, Holly. Made me laugh really hard. I have three girls, 8, 4, and 2, and I’m not going to judge–they’re all watching TV at this very moment! (My 2nd-grader is home sick today). I don’t think it’s great for babies to watch very much TV, but i don’t think one episode a day is going to do a darn thing. When my oldest was a baby and it was on me all day to entertain her, one episode (okay, two) of Baby Einstein (that was back when BE was everywhere) was a dream come true. I could go on the treadmill and get some exercise, which helped tremendously with my post-partum depression. When the negative press happened about BE, I was worried, but then I read that the poor results in studies were about babies watching tv for *hours* a day. Not the kind of thing that most parents would do anyway. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not necessary for babies/kids to have a perfect, ideal environment in order to thrive. A good environment, certainly, but it doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) perfect, for the sake of the parents’ sanity! This isn’t a scientific study, just an anecdote of one, but my oldest is incredibly creative and at the top of her class. Clearly, a couple baby episodes didn’t do anything bad to her little brain!

    Re: the ugly toys, I don’t think your feelings are selfish at all. I will tell you how I feel about big, bulky, bright plastic baby toys: I hate them. But the sanity they bring to the parents (and the happiness they bring to the babies) makes them worth having around. We have gotten rid of a lot of those toys now that our youngestbis three, and I was so happy to see those monstrosities head off to the Goodwill. I miss some things about the baby stages, but definitely not the toys!

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  106. Romy commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 4:22pm

    Embrace reality, babies like colorful things. I have that rainforest montrosity too, and she used it from month 3 to 7. Now a friend is using it.
    What I do at home is set a play area in the living room and use a huge play mat, and when she is done playing I just pick the playmat with everything in it and put it away in a cute seagrass basket. Babies play with anything, maracas, empty bottles, shoelaces… whatever.

    I am more of a silent person, and I don’t like batteries in toys, so I never put the batteries to that fisher price thing, and she enjoyed playing with it although it didn’t make any sounds.

    Your best option is to embrace this phase, and put everything away later. My home doesn’t look like a kindergarden but they play all day!

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  107. karen robinson commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 5:21pm

    LOL Holly,

    I am now Nanna k and I’m going through the same thing for twice in my life. I swore as a grandma I would not have the primary color, made in in china, plastic crapola that inhabited my home when my boys were being raised but OMG it is worse now than ever. Plus I have now bought this stuff for a second time. BUT I am so in love with my 18 month old grandson Liam that I have definitely gone over to the dark side or primary color side anyway. Also the play gym baby mat was a lifesaver and I actually used to throw it in the car and take anywhere I took the babies. Worth its weight in gold. Enjoy, the time goes so fast, k

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  108. Audrey - This Little Street commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 6:07pm

    Don’t fight the toys, Holly, cause in the end you can’t really – they love that plastic crap too much! But instead focus on the storage, because no matter what you buy, if you have pretty/functional storage for it everybody will be happy :) Hence why I made the crates on casters with lid – roll it around to clean, and put it in the corner, nobody will know the ugly things that are inside ;)
    Audrey – This Little Street´s last blog post ..DIY wallpaper stools

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  109. Anna commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 7:58pm

    I didn’t read every single comment, but I didn’t see anyone mention IKEA toys. They have a pretty wooden playgym and a number of other nice wooden toys. Also, I can recommend wooden blocks and later, cardboard boxes.

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  110. Melissa Miller commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 8:12pm

    Make a pretty play mat for your baby. Design your own. I quilted one with triangles and hung retro looking brightly colored wooden toys from it.

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  111. Marie commented
    May 14th, 2014 at 10:23pm

    decor8,
    The Jumparoo (garish stationary activity station) was the best baby amusing device we ever bought. Can be used from 4 months for short periods. Our little girl would grin from ear to ear and became a champion star jumper…

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  112. jen commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 6:43am

    haha i totally had this conversation with my husband not that long ago!! he thinks i’m crazy, but i’m glad i’m not the only one who thought this way! :D (though i also have to point out i don’t have any children yet so this was more of a think ahead kind of thing)

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  113. anastasia commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 7:17am

    oh I gave in so long ago – our living room corner was once a colourful plastic playground haha – mine have grown up now …
    One thing I wont accept though is ‘licensed’ characters like Disney/Pixar characters that the studios churn out every few months – cants stand the bed linen and bedroom decor that come along with these ‘trends’ – no thanks – we do have a batman quilt cover which I had tucked under for an extra layer but nope Im standing firm on that!
    anastasia´s last blog post ..Inspiration now: Interior Garden

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  114. bora commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 2:11pm

    apart from wooden toys, there are also many black and white toys that look better to adult eyes and are helpful for kids that age as they gravitate towards those colors.
    monochromatic toys are also an option – they look a little better than having toys with all the colors of the rainbow.
    and i have to echo previous commenter on non-toy play things. pots, pans, spoons etc. your house will still be messy, but at least you won’t be overcome by cheap, blinding, ugly plastic.
    Lastly, yes, thank god for a no all-bubblegum pink phase – although my son is into pink crocs like grandma’s at the moment. I think I can tolerate a little bit here and there and on clothes.

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  115. annemie commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 5:21pm

    yes, I know, ugly but oh so attractive for little baby eyes.
    let him enjoy! Design tools are nice but quiet in color, babies do not like them so much.
    You can learn him to love nice things later on, be patient and good luck

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  116. aggi commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 6:17pm

    decor8,
    Holly, I don’t have an English source, but this is a German one. I am a trained “Erzieherin” which is a kindergarten teacher. We learned in college that kids younger than 28 months should not be exposed to screens. After that only for short episodes of movies with SLOW action and calm music.

    http://www.stern.de/wissen/mensch/kopfwelten-fernsehen-fuer-die-kleinsten-besser-nicht-1558080.html

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  117. Dianna commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 7:47pm

    My sweet baby girl (4 months old) LOVES Her huge plastic play mat too. And I feel you with not wanting big plasticky toys to take over the home! We shall see….. But for now, our living room only has that mat. And a bumbo. And some other plastic toys, crap! She’s taking over!! haha, just kidding. But I totally know what you mean about maintaining a stylish home. I think it IS possible as long as we give the kids THEIR space to play. Her nursery will do just that.
    We are also huge fans of Melissa and Doug toys.
    have fun!
    xo
    Dianna´s last blog post ..Laina – Four Months & A Fashion Show

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  118. decor8 commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 8:12pm

    @aggi – Thank you so much! I will read the article. I’m always so interested in learning more about young children now that I have one of my own.

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  119. Tish commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 8:54pm

    Hilarious post Holly. I went through exactly the same thing… And eventually found that vertbaudet do a baby gym which is not too ugly, as do the french brand jacadi…. Then I found so many gorgeous toys, lots of them french.. Nathalie lete does some cool stuff, little zebra shop is sweet as is petit home. Then just so many rocking horses and vintage trikes and 80s fluo pulls alongs you can get from car boot sales or charity shops. We still had a buzzing musical light show rainforest chair that saved our lives but the key seems to be cool storage solutions whether it is old chests or gorgeous sideboards with drawers, and lots of magazine shelves so the little ones can eventually help themselves to all the pretty toys. I tend to move the plastic on as quickly as possible but our girls always want to keep what you don’t like… And don’t care for what you do! Margot now tells me she wants an ‘ugly’ dress… Oh dear….

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  120. KS commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 9:07pm

    I wish I would’ve seen this before noon today! I have thoughts, so many thoughts…. I’ve always had a strict no-toys-littering-the-living-room policy and I’ve caught a LOT of flack for it over the years from friends and family. I think we can all live harmoniously AND without toys on every available surface, and so far it’s worked for us. I also hate/hated the plastic, blinking stuff, but I think it depends on the kid — M loved anything that had a battery, L could care less. And — hang in there — it could be just a phase. When M was Aidan’s age she loved that stuff (the tackier the better) but she eventually preferred things that didn’t turn on and/or make noise. I think I’m stuck with pink/purple explosion for a while, so you got lucky there ;)

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  121. Kat commented
    May 15th, 2014 at 10:54pm

    My toddler had the exact same activity gym as a baby and adored it. It was definitely one of his favorites! You’d freak out if you saw my living room, I’m often told that it looks like a toy store exploded. I absolutely love it though! Seeing all the fun, colorful toys makes me happy. I tidy up each night, but I have no problem with him scattering those toys around the moment he wakes up.

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  122. Sophia commented
    May 16th, 2014 at 9:55pm

    I believe that it is possible to keep a stylish home with a baby!
    My daughter is almost 1 year old and we’ve been following these rules:
    - Keep most toys in the baby’s room
    - In the living room, we have one pretty bin (wire basket lined with ecru linen!) filled with toys. At the end of the day, the bin goes under the console table.
    - We opted against bulky, electronic contraptions – no exercauser, jumper or walker. Babies need freedom of movement and we would place her on her back on a mat on the floor under a simple wooden arch with pretty objects hanging from it that we would change every so often. It kept her mesmerized for hours without the plastic, gaudy colors and silly noise and songs that get stuck in your head.
    - We found that household items make the best toys: wooden spoons, tupperwares, metal bowls, egg cartons, you name it! Our daughter neglects most of her toys in favor of simple every day objects.

    A great article on setting baby free from walkers, excersaucers, etc. :
    http://www.janetlansbury.com/2009/09/set-me-free/

    -

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  123. Noor commented
    May 16th, 2014 at 11:50pm

    My son had the entire Rainforest series and it is all really great. The first thing was this mat and the tub then the highchair which moves and has straps that even babies as young as 4 months can be sitting in playing while you’re in the kitchen. Next was the jumper and swing that amazing him. Thank God the saved my sanity and yea my house looked bad, but at that point I was like whatever lol.

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  124. marilia lauria commented
    May 17th, 2014 at 12:07am

    Hi Holly,

    I am a mum of an amazing 9 1/2 months old boy and an applied theatre practitioner which background is working with children and young people. Currently, i am a full time mum and this same question is in mind everyday! Not necessary because of my design choices – but I totally simpatize with you, his room is just. mess right now! – but more because I want to him to have access to the best to develop personally and socially and to thrive. And I dont like babies having a huge amount of toys either. So, One of my best buys was a baby play mat – rubber, I am afraid – he had enough space to roll around, stand and fall, start to crawl .. all in a safe and confortable environment. He started to walk just before turning 9 months. And we now use the mat for playing. I also have lots and lots of books, I read for him since he was born while breastfeeding. And as soon as he was able to get to his book and grab them, he was bringing his favourites ones for us to read!! For your three months old baby girl I recommend the ‘Look Look!’ by Peter Linenthal. My baby would stare at it for hours, and be extra happy when the page was turned.
    Also, blocks and balls are great for their developement! Bright starts makes this absolutely great ones. You can find them on amazon…. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B0054O9UIA/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1400277380&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX110_SY165

    I can go on and on about other toys, but just keep in mind that you don’t have that many for them. Just a few key ones will do. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want some tips on other toys and activities you can do with her.

    Ohh and on the subject of TV … you will find a lot of research on NO TV FOR UNDER TWOs. It retards the development of language and speech, and the baby/ toddler doesnt understand the information in it. They just stare because of the lights. It Doesn’t add them anything, its just really for us parents to have a break.

    Enjoy your baby… the fun starts now after the 3rd month!!
    lov

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  125. Nitasha commented
    May 17th, 2014 at 1:51am

    Hi Holly,
    I can totally relate to what you are saying, a really funny post!!!
    My daughter, who is now 2 had the same mat and absolutely loved it…..she has outgrown it since and I have stashed it under her cot, totally out of sight.
    She still plays with the elephant rattle sometimes……….
    Babies love books, so it is never too early to start reading out to them.
    You have a gorgeous little one.
    Nitasha´s last blog post ..Lovin’ Panelled walls………

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  126. Maryna commented
    May 17th, 2014 at 9:53am

    I dont know if you have ever watched Everybody loves Raymond? ” that house … Lol

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  127. andrea commented
    May 17th, 2014 at 10:05am

    Take bub to the park, onto the blanket and under a tree. Nature is the best for babies. Also you can get beautiful wooden play gyms and handmade blankets if your inner designer self cant handle the commercial version.

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  128. andrea commented
    May 17th, 2014 at 10:09am

    P.s we have a two year old son has two plastic toys (hand me downs). The rest are wood or fabric. Its easy to aviid commercial stuff- just have to look a little.
    andrea´s last blog post ..Friday Creative Roundup: Joie de vivre

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  129. Lark commented
    May 17th, 2014 at 7:13pm

    Probably the first of many compromises you will make as a mother. I remember feeling the same way about many of my kids’ toys. Nothing like a few baskets around the house to tuck them away when they are not in use. Somehow they do seem to love the things we would rather not have, but it is just another reminder to keep things in perspective.

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  130. Tanya commented
    May 17th, 2014 at 9:22pm

    As a mom of a 7 month-old and an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher who works with kids birth to age three and their families, I can personally vouch that although attracting, the light-up, noisy, cause-effect toys are not awesome for development. I am forever telling families not to replace the batteries once they wear out, so that their child with a speech delay can make the sounds for the toy themselves. Besides that, once the batteries wear out, chances are good the one purpose of the toy is compromised. Open-ended toys, like blocks, musical instruments, animals, cars, etc require kids (and adults!) to use their imaginations and facilitate development of creative skills that they will use for a lifetime. The developmental stage where babies learn something happens when they push a button is VERY short (and they’ll learn it with your smartphone first!) So save yourself the music headache, and instead sing with your baby – it’s never too early for the basics like itsy bitsy spider, twinkle twinkle little star, etc. The sound of your voice and the interaction with you is much better for his development :)

    And I”m with everyone who said no tv under two – it is AWFUL for development. If you want to see how terrible, try to get your child’s attention while they’re watching something. You won’t be able to (and it’s hard for adults too). It’s really sad to know that a baby isn’t learning anything while watching tv (there is no such thing as an “educational” program). And your baby doesn’t need tv to keep them busy – prop them up in a high chair (as long as they have head control, prop them up with towels) and bring them along with whatever you’re doing. Or use a baby carrier. Their job at 3 months is to watch and take in the world – the more opportunities you can give, the better off they will be!

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  131. Klara commented
    May 18th, 2014 at 6:23pm

    Well Holly it only gets worse :) I’m a montessori teacher and you can find many infant suitable montessori toys on Etsy. They tend to be natural materials and way less offensive than those plastic uglies. As soon as your little one can sit the world of toys really opens up to him. Wooden blocks, pull toys and the greatest toy of all times…Jumperoo. We did acquire the crazy plastic one when our little girl was 5 months, because we don’t have a door frame to hang a simple jumping seat from it. She practically lived in it for a year :) When you get toys always think of “open end play”. Good toy can be used in at least three unrelated activities. Blocks, cars, art supplies, music instruments are good choices. Stacking toys and matching shapes with openings and puzzles are the best. We always practised the two boxes maximum rule. I had two of the Ikea wicker baskets, one was available and the other one was hidden in the closet. Every ten days or so I would rotate some of the toys. The kid’s long term memory can be easily exploited :) and she felt she had new toys every week and we kept the clutter away. Every three months or so when she would stop playing with certain things we gave them away to our friends and usually got some more advanced hand me downs from our friends or just bought couple new ones. But there were never more than two boxes of toys in our small townhouse :))

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  132. Janine commented
    May 18th, 2014 at 11:22pm

    The picture of Aidan underneath the playmat looked too familiar. I love it! I eventually also had to give in after initially promising myself not to let our house get run over by bright colored toys. Well, I also got a mat for our son, because before he was able to grab toys I could not hold them up all day long, or wouldn`t want to.
    Our mat is as bright minus the music and light, but he as well loves it. I even took it to our recent trip to Bali, because when he was underneath all these (in our case) stuffed toys that rattled, crinkled and must have glared him, he was fascinated, sometimes up to 30 mins. Good thing about it is that the bows are detachable from the mat to easily store it. By now (7 months) he loves to just lay on the mat on his belly and explore the other side.

    For the rest of our house I was eager on finding a solution that worked for unclutter-concerned mommy and clutter-loving baby. We dont yet have a baby room, but 2 living rooms, one will eventually be converted so I was even more concerned with keeping a clean scene. And though we have many more toys than I ever imagined we manage to keep a pretty well styled home. The solution that works for us are 2 medium Senegalese storage baskets in the living rooms and a sheep skin on the floor. When we play it is littered with all these shiny toys, but when done, cleaning up is easy and fast.

    As for playing ideas: I lately discovered PEKiP toys, e.g. making a rattle/pull toy by piercing baby food jar lids and pulling them on a string with wooden beads in between. My baby loves it. As for the really ugly plastic toys we visit friends, I just cannot give in to too many of these in the house.. this far!

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  133. エレナ commented
    May 20th, 2014 at 3:47pm

    decor8,

    t
    I have some beautiful japanese toys made of rice
    エレナ´s last blog post ..Another sketch

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  134. Pehr Designs commented
    May 20th, 2014 at 9:28pm

    You need some Pehr bins and hampers to hide all of the toys!!

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  135. Melanie commented
    May 21st, 2014 at 12:17am

    Hi there
    I run creative dance classes for mums and babies and whilst far too far away from you to help in person I do put lots of ideas up on my blog for games and activities to try at home and music etc. try this:
    http://www.offspringers.com/dancing-with-baby

    Or here
    http://www.offspringers.com/category/activities-0-12-months/

    The blog has been a bit sleepy recently as I’ve been busy elsewhere but keep checking in as I’ll be updating more regularly in coming months
    X

    Ps. Mirrors are good….and not plastic. Babies love reflections!!!!

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  136. decor8 commented
    May 21st, 2014 at 6:18am

    @Pehr Designs – You’re right!

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  137. decor8 commented
    May 21st, 2014 at 6:18am

    @melanie – Thank you so much for those suggestions!

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  138. Jana commented
    May 21st, 2014 at 12:22pm

    I’d say that kids are perfect for fighting our design snobbism! For instance, we’ve bought one of those “baby on board” signs set in Comic Sans since it was the only one with suction cups. And those stickers ones weren’t much better either. I see it as one more thing to put on a “things for kids that need redesign” list. :)

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  139. Kristina commented
    May 23rd, 2014 at 6:26am

    That mat seems to be all the rage right now! My best friend got one for her baby girl as well and her baby loved it so much.
    Kristina´s last blog post ..3 great ways to relax at home

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  140. Anais commented
    May 24th, 2014 at 1:02pm

    I carefully decorated our son’s room with beautiful vintage furniture and everything was perfect until we bought the same fisher price rainforest!
    He is now 11months so we’ve put it away a while ago ( along with all the Lamaze toys he doesn’t play with anymore ) and the way we have found around the “ugly plastic” problem started when my mother in law gave us my husband’s vintage fisher price toys. Since then I have bought a few ( from the 50′s to the 80′s ) on ebay and at flea markets and he’s really enjoying them. We also love that having used toys is a great way to reduce pollution!

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  141. Monika commented
    May 24th, 2014 at 7:10pm

    When my kids were little, we lived in Switzerland (in Geneva), and there were toy libraries called “Ludotheques”. Just like a book library, you could sign out children’s toys. It was great because it was a cheap alternative, and you weren’t stuck with ugly plastic toys. Don’t they have something similar in Germany?

    Also, I have to say that because we were living in Europe, we largely escaped the plastic toy phenomenon — North American family was an ocean away and didn’t send toys, and European family didn’t give plastic toys.

    Europe is a wonderful source of great wooden toys — really, like us, you are ideally situated to avoid the plastic toys onslaught.

    We searched out European toy makers whose products are still made in Europe. For example, the Juras neighbouring Geneva used to be the toy making area of France, and there are still some French toy makers who make beautiful wooden and other quality toys there — Vilac comes to mind, but there are others. And many from Germany — beautiful stacking toys in fun shapes.

    I have to agree with the Montessori teacher too — Montessori toys, or toys sold by places which provide Montessori tools are excellent open-ended toys. They are very attractive, often wooden. We loved the Galt pop up pegs toy (which is now on Amazon).

    We have a full set of the Dylan Freith vehicles he did for Habitat, and still have them out because they are so gorgeous! There is a London bus, London taxi, New York taxi, ice cream truck, fire truck, safari jeep, tuktuk and a colourful Indian or Pakistani truck.

    We also got the full assortment of animal pillows (and other toys) from ZidZid Kids.

    Also, the wheelie moo, wheelie bug and so forth are beautiful and fun ride-on toys.

    We bought Krtek toys and beautiful high quality Krtek board games in Prague, and lovely toys in Switzerland too (at the Swiss airports they have great concessions).

    Galt, Ravensberger, eeboo, Vilac, Djeco, cuboro, Vulli (for Sophie the Giraffe)… those are just some of the manufacturers.

    We had a low length of single drawer cabinets on one side of our living room, and I would have toys in some of those drawers. It was the perfect height for play cruising, and I would display certain toys every day. Some of the toys were so beautiful that they made great living rooms displays — didn’t need to hide them. The wheelie moo and dylan Freith vehicles look great with our red Togo sectional!

    I haven’t given away or sold our toys, even though I have gotten rid of most of the baby stuff — they are so nice, and the kids loved them so much, that I am storing them for their kids.

    Oh — and we also had one of those mats (not that one, but something similar). They fold up when not in use, and I sold mine after both kids were done with it. My concern with these sorts of toys is not aesthetic, but developmental: they are too frenetic in attracting a baby’s attention. Too many lights, bells and whistles. They can be overwhelming — as are a lot of the toys out there. That’s why we curated our toys very carefully, and had much fewer of them than most families (since we were the only ones buying them).

    When your son is a bit older, one of the best toys will be an attractive, solid (not plastic!) work table and chair for drawing, painting, projects, playing with cars and so forth.

    Oh — art supplies. Caran d’Arche crayons that you can paint with = gorgeous kids’ art!

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  142. Monika commented
    May 24th, 2014 at 7:24pm

    Oh! And I forgot to give a shout-out to Barbara Sansoni, and her Barefoot line of toys which are made in Sri Lanka. They are made out of beautiful handwoven textiles — we have her mouse family and hanging mouse house. Mz 10 year old daughter, still had it hanging in her room (over her float ;-) )

    And it is Dylan Freeth, sorry. You can sang the ones still in production at a Habitat store, and the others on Ebay.

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  143. Monika commented
    May 24th, 2014 at 7:29pm

    aargh… autocorrect!

    I typed:

    My 10 year old daughter still has the mouse house hanging in her room, over her flokati ;-)

    (I just checked, and the mouse houses are no longer being made, but an internet retailer in Australia — the one I bought mine from — has snagged the last of the stock and is selling them off).

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  144. kristin commented
    May 27th, 2014 at 11:53am

    Clara,

    That’s IKEA just repainted and styled! Just found it on their website!
    kristin´s last blog post ..may desktop

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  145. kristin commented
    May 27th, 2014 at 5:37pm

    We have an almost 3 month old and haven’t bought any toys for her yet. We were gifted some smaller, hand-held things, but she’s still a bit too young for them.

    One thing I did early on (once I realized it) was bought some graphic black and white paper (a random print and a stripe print) and I cut them into little shapes and stuck them up on the wall in key spots (by her crib, where we change her, on the inside of the cover on the stroller, and on the wall behind where we sit to feed her — for something to stare at while burping her). I know everyone says that babies love bright colours (and I’ll admit it, she does love bright colours), but they also really love black and white patterns.

    I swear, she will talk to those stickers FOREVER. And I can’t tell you how much easier it is to put her in the stroller and go for a walk now that her comforting stickers are there for her to look up at. She used to start screaming the moment she went in the stroller, while I put her hat on, and all the way until I got outside.

    Also, I think I can thank the stickers for helping her self-soothe in her crib. Sometimes, I put her down for a nap and she’ll wake up again cuz I’m not rocking her anymore and I hear her start talking and squealing a bit. But she’s just sucking her hand and staring at the shapes and talking to them a bit, and eventually, she’ll fall asleep again. I don’t understand why baby toys have to be so colourful and garish when babies react so strongly to black and white. I would totally buy the exact same play mat you have if it were covered in black and white patterns with hints of colour here and there (cuz I do realize babies will need colour at some point!). I don’t know why this is so hard to find when we (first time parents with absolutely NO prior baby knowledge) realized how quickly a simple black and white zig zag soothed and interested our baby! Doesn’t everyone know this? (And maybe I’m wrong, but I also think the animal thing is sorta pointless at this stage, too. Do the animal shapes engage babies more than say a cube or ball shape? There are some plastic animals on one of our gift toys and she doesn’t care about them at all. The crunchy fabric flaps interest her way more. And they are pretty much shapeless.)

    I will also admit that we use the baby bjorn chair a lot, too, and she even demands to sit in it. She does watch tv with us, so… she IS watching adult shows, but, I mean, if she’s quiet and happy? I don’t think it’s that awful. Besides, how much do you remember from 3 months of age? (It’s also entertaining for us too, cuz she acts like a little old man in that chair!) I also found this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuUYHR74xv0 which keeps her interested for a little while and at least it’s got relaxing classical music (which is easier on me than repetitive children songs and I think better for her brain anyway).

    Now I’m planning an IKEA trip cuz I really like the look of a lot of their baby toys. Maybe we’ll pick up that LEKA gym arc now that she’s figuring out her hands can be useful for grabbing things. It looked nice in that modern hack from above but also looks nice as it is.
    kristin´s last blog post ..may desktop

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  146. Iza commented
    June 2nd, 2014 at 10:47pm

    Hahah. I am mum of 15 months old daughter myself. Could not stand those colorful toy at the begin but they are just in use for few months.
    First year is such a big change and goes so quickly you might see those toy only for few months. After using playground you would need next toys when baby can sit and different when start to walk I would not worries about it too much in first year.

    Just wait when your baby start using hand to eat.
    Sticky fingers everywhere. Stain on rugs :) I have some neutral furniture at home but now they are all covered with whatever I could find around. I am going to give up caring about that for few years. It is stressful to get stressful about it ;)

    Good luck :)

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  147. Zaira commented
    June 5th, 2014 at 6:43pm

    A swing! You should really get a swing. My daughter cried more than she did anything else. She only wanted to be held. But we got the swing and it was the best purchased we ever made. We laid her on the swing turn on the music and gave her a pacifier and she would lay there quietly for hours. Some times she would fall asleep sometimes she’d just lay there.
    That and the pacifier were life savers. At first I didn’t want her using a pacifier but it realy really helped.

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  148. petallica commented
    June 6th, 2014 at 9:37am

    Hi,

    there are some great tips here about toy rotation and making your own from everyday things. Water bottles are great, little mobiles made from card scraps and decorated with washi tape (light enough to move in the summer breeze), a crystal in the window to produce rainbows. My 3 month old especially enjoys watching the trees move in the wind.

    Regarding the play mat – if you don’t like it give it away.
    We have a small place and as my older daughter was small I limited the toys to wood and easy on the eye brights. It was enjoyable to live with, especially in the early days when the toys and child are in each room you are.
    The simpler toys also have the advantage that the child plays with them and is creative, rather than being entertained with music, lights etc.
    Now my big girl is 5 (!) and there’s some plastic, bright crazy pinks etc. but that is ok because she has to find her own style now (and its more in her room than everywhere). I have given her a chance to learn about what I see is quality and good to live with and now she can choose for herself.
    You can get the play stands in wood, like from sigikid, where you can even change the toys on it, or best second hand. This way the mat you can choose in colours for your living style. He’ll get enough plastic gifts in his life to cover the primary colours and blinking lights, so don’t worry about that.

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  149. sati commented
    June 8th, 2014 at 2:25pm

    Try Waldorf toys! good luck and blessings!

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