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How do you know which toys to buy from the huge selection available? Read our blogger's guide to the essential toys for any newborn baby
As a parent-to-be looking to buy things for your new arrival, it can seem like there's an overwhelming choice of baby activity toys available. How do you know what you actually need, and what will get thrown out of the pram? It doesn't get much clearer when your bundle of joy finally arrives, either.
The truth is that newborns don't need a large number of toys, but there are several things you can get that will help babies start to explore the world through play, and also aid development.
So what really works? As a mum of two young children – aged three and eight months – here are some of the toys I'd recommend that were well played with and much loved in our house. They range from baby bath toys to books and activity gyms. These are great ideas if you're looking for a new baby present for a family member or friend too.
Baby bath toys
Bathtime is often a key part of the baby evening routine, but not all of them are huge fans of water (at least not at first). You can get a wide variety of simple bath toys to entertain and distract your child while they are bathed. Firm favourites in our house were small colourful animals that squirt water. You can't go wrong with a classic yellow bath duck either.
Baby activity gyms consist of a soft mat with an arch from which you can hang toys over the baby. They tend to be bright, colourful and stimulating, and lots of them will play music which is activated with the baby's motion, or when they pull on the toys which can aid with developing coordination. The good thing about play gyms is that they will grow with the child as they can investigate the arch from a sitting perspective. The mat is also a useful surface when they start crawling.
Although it will be a while before your baby is reading along with you, it's great to start reading with children from an early age. The high contrast of black and white images in board books can help with eyesight (babies can only see very fuzzy images at first). We also had several soft fabric books with different sounds and textures, and my children were able to start to interact with these as their eyesight and attention span developed.
Fabric sensory toys
A soft toy is a classic buy for a baby. You can get a wide variety of soft fabric toys that come in different colours and patterns and have everything from squeakers to crinkly fabric in them. Both of my children loved an octopus with different features on each of its legs, including a mirror on one tentacle. You can also get soft toys that attach to baby's hands or feet to help as they start to develop their hand/eye coordination.
By Gillian Crawshaw, parenting blogger at A Baby On Board