There are not many things that are more overwhelming than registering for baby items. Especially as a first-time mom, it is almost impossible to know what items you actually need – much less which style, brand, color, etc is the best. I can’t share expertise on every single baby item out there, but what I can share with you is which baby items will be best for your baby’s gross motor skills. Believe it or not, those tiny humans start learning from day one and you want to provide them with the best opportunities to learn!
Here are my “must-have” baby items to help promote your baby’s gross motor development:
A play mat is not an “essential” baby item. You could absolutely just use a blanket on the floor and it would be a perfectly acceptable play area for your baby. BUT, there are some really awesome play mats on the market right now that just make purposeful play a little easier. My favorite mat right now is the Lovevery Activity Gym. This thing is seriously awesome! There are 5 “learning zones” that you can cover up and reveal as you want, there are black/white hanging toys that are perfect for newborns, and it has several attachments that are great for toddlers. But, my favorite part is that this play gym comes with a play guide that gives parents ideas and activities for every stage birth – 12 months! I love that this play mat has so many options of things your baby can engage in while on her tummy, side or back. The price is a little steep, but with all of the developmental opportunities and the fact that this will grow with your baby through toddlerhood, I think it is 100% worth the price tag!
Play Yard/Pack n’ Play
This is on my “essential” list of baby items. We have used our pack n’ play mostly for sleeping – we used the newborn insert and baby slept in our room the first few months and then we use it for sleeping when we travel. But, I also love a pack n’ play/play yard for CONTAINED PLAY. We all know that the laundry, dishes and household chores don’t stop just because we have a baby and sometimes we just need 5 minutes to ourselves without a baby attached to us. There are so many different kinds of baby containers you can find to help pacify your baby (bouncer, swing, rock n’ play, exersaucer, jumper, etc) while you get things done around the house. But, used in excess, these containers can cause delayed milestones, flat head syndrome and some are just unsafe in general. That is why I recommend investing in a great play yard/pack n’ play! You can put toys in the bottom, put your baby in and feel good about knowing she is safe and contained while you get some chores done. The most important reason I love this option is that even though your baby is contained in a small space, she is able to MOVE FREELY, change positions and practice motor skills. Other baby containers limit normal movement and don’t give your baby the opportunity to practice her motor skills because they “contain” your baby in one position. A play yard can move with you from room to room or even outside while you do yard work or soak up some Vitamin D! Any Pack N’ Play or Play Yard will do, but here are two of my favorites: https://amzn.to/2PiLiUahttps://amzn.to/2XptNUR
If you have any experience with newborns, you know that the “fourth trimester” is a REAL thing! For the first few months of a baby’s life, nothing makes her happier than being snuggled up to her mama. This can make things challenging for times when you need to get some chores done OR when you have older children running around and you need to keep baby safe. A great baby carrier is really a priceless item to have as a new mom, but like everything there are so many different brands and styles to choose from. My two personal favorites are the K’tan Wrap and the Ergo 360 carrier. Check out this blog post for a full analysis of these carriers and why I recommend them. Choosing a baby carrier is about more than just choosing one in your favorite color. There are several anatomical factors to take into account when choosing a carrier. Once you have a great ergonomic carrier, you can hold your baby close without missing out on getting your to-do list accomplished!
A boppy pillow is a great accessory for breast and bottle feedings during those first few months. But, did you know that they can actually aid in developing gross motor skills, too? Its true! Tummy time, reaching for and grasping objects, supported sitting, it is such a versatile tool!
For tummy time help, place the boppy pillow under your baby’s chest to decrease the force of gravity on your baby’s head. A boppy can also help babies stay in tummy time longer once they learn how to roll off of their tummies. Around 3 months, your baby will start discovering his hands, trying to grasp objects and bringing hands together at the middle of the baby and bringing them to his mouth. Placing your baby on his back on the boppy will help bring the shoulders forward to decrease the force of gravity on his arms. This will help him more easily bring hands together and reach for toys. Beginning about 3-4 months old, you can start to practice supported sitting skills. Initially, you can put the boppy pillow in front of your baby around the trunk and put a toy on the boppy. This will give some support for baby’s trunk and give a place for baby to rest his arms while he practices holding himself in the upright position. As your baby’s sitting skills develop, you can move the boppy to the back to give support to the hips and some protection in case baby topples over! A boppy pillow is something I recommend all parents to invest in. It will grow with your baby and get so much use!
Tummy Time Toys
I could write an entire article on the importance of tummy time. But, tummy time is only as good as the entertainment you provide during it! Tummy time is hard work and your baby will tolerate this time so much better if you are prepared with some great toys! My top 3 tummy time recommendations are a floor mirror, fold-out books and black/white toys! All of these toys will encourage your baby to lift his head on his tummy. Eventually, around 5 months, your baby will start reaching forward for toys on his tummy, and these toys will be great for that as well! I recommend black and white toys because these are best for your newborn’s vision! In those early months, you want to stimulate your baby’s vision with these type of high contrast toys, and fortunately, older babies love them as well!
V-tech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
I saved the best for last! This is, without a doubt, my #1 toy recommendation for all parents! This V-tech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker toy is SO versatile and you can use this from newborn to 1-year and beyond! My 16-month-old still loves hers and plays with it often. My favorite thing about this toy is that the front of it pops off, so it can be used in a variety of positions. From tummy time to sitting skills to tall kneeling to learning to stand and walk, this toy will follow your baby through all of his motor skills! If you are an expecting mama, add this to your registry today! If you already have a sweet baby, I would order this ASAP! I promise you will never run out of playtime ideas when you have this fun, multi-purpose toy lying around!
Well, there you have it! My 6 “must-have” baby items that will help you promote awesome developmental milestones! I would love for you to share this blog post with any mamas you know who are expecting or who could benefit from any of these must have items!