As Spencer got older, there were new items that he was ready to use. These supported his development, feeding needs, and made getting out of the house much easier. If you don’t mind second hand stuff, check around your neighborhood for a Goodwill or thrift store and even Craigslist to find great buys!
Developmental Activity Centers
- Playmats/Activity Gym: As your baby begins to embrace tummy time you may want to get him a fun playmat. They have hidden flaps to open up and toys that dangle down for your baby to reach up for. My two favorites are the Tiny Love Super Deluxe Lights and Music Gymini Activity Gym and the Baby Einstein Neptune Ocean Adventure Gym. The Tiny Love gym lights up on the floor which keeps Spencer entertained.
- Jumpers: Spencer loved his Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumper. Although it’s not recommended for use until the baby is 4 months old, we put a think hardcover book under it so his toes could comfortably rest on the book. This was a great place for Spencer to sit upright which gave is flat back of his head a rest! He’s also tried the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumperoo at a friends’ house and loved it too.
- Rattles, balls, noise makers: As your baby begins to crawl, you’ll want to get some toys that encourage his mobile exploration. Here are two of Spencer’s favorites: Vtech – Move & Crawl Electronic Activity Ball (this lights up and spins on its own which gets him to chase after it, even after it rolls away) and Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! 1-2-3 Crawl Along Snail (this is a cute little snail that he’ll giggle after). We received the IQ Baby MyOhMy Octopi as a gift and he loved giving it hugs around the 7 month mark. It’s a great way for baby to stay entertained with a safe toy that’s his size!
Pop-up toys are also great for your baby to learn cause and effect. The ones that light up and play songs are the best.
Once my baby started walking, there was no stopping him. That meant whenever we were in public, I had to put him down so I wanted to get him comfortable, light weight, non-slip walking shoes.” He was an early walker (started on his 10 month birthday) so we got him a Size 4 which gave him a little room to grow into. I always look for the lightest shoes with thin soles so he could feel the floor. I hated the clunkers that just seem to be easier for him to trip over. The best shoes I’ve come across are:
- I Love You More: This one can be read two ways and talks about love from two perspectives, yours and your baby’s. It’s a sweet short book and a must for any new mom.
- I Love You Daddy (Gift Book): This is a great Father’s Day gift. It’s about a baby bear who learns to do new things with his papa bear.
- Peekaboo Playtime: I love this peekaboo book. It has lift up flaps to reveal new images and is a touch and feel book to exercise your baby’s senses.
- Flaptastic: Colors: This book opens up in all different directions revealing all sorts of pictures of different colors. Check out all the
- Pop-up Books: Pop up books are a ton of fun to read and look at. Your little one will laugh his socks off as you read through each page and move each of the pop-ups back and forth. The older babies (6-9 monthers) may try to reach and pull on the pop-ups so you’ll want to be careful they don’t break it.
Usborne Touchy-Feely books: These were used at baby signing classes. They’re fun to read (with a lot of exaggeration and allow your babies to feel different textures on each new page.
Spencer started eating after he turned 6 months old. Some people start earlier, and it’s up to you. Always check with your pediatrician too. Ours told us he’ll have less problems with allergies if we start later. By the time we started he was ready. He popped his mouth wide open for his first feeding. Here are some of the products I used when it came to feeding time.
- Boon Squirt Baby Food Dispensing Spoon: This spoon is super handy because you only need one hand to dispense the food. You do need to make sure your food is pureed smooth enough to fit through the little hole. This worked well whenever Spencer wanted to hold his own spoon (which meant he would always grab the spoon and spatter whatever I was trying to feed him). With the Boon spoon, he could hold the spoon in his mouth while I squirted some food into it. The main complaint I have is the spoon is too deep for him to get everything off each bite.
- Baby Bjorn Bib: This bib is really for babies older than 7 months. I like it because it’s so easy to clean and it’s hard so it catches food well. The problem is that when you have it on a smaller baby, the high chair tray may not close.
- Kidsme Food Feeder Set: The Kidsme feeder allows your baby to eat fruits and vegetables by sucking it through a pacifier with holes in it. Our baby loved this thing as it enabled him to eat apples, peaches, watermelon, and cantaloupe without us having to worry about him choking.
- Food Processor: If you plan on making any food for your baby, you’ll need a food processor. The Beaba Babycook one is really nice as it blends and steams the food you make. It also comes with a great cook book and a defrosting option for foods you stored in the freezer. The Baby Chef Ultimate Baby Food Maker is another great option which chops, blends, steams, and even warms baby bottles.
- High chair: You’ll need some sort of high chair. We have the Peg-Perego Prima Pappa Diner High Chair and the Rainforest Booster Seat which we can take to restaurants with us (although it’s kind of bulky). The high chair has a lush seat cover and adjusts to many different heights. You can pull it right to the dining table without the tray. It folds flat and can be stored upright. The challenge with this chair is that the tray is much too high for a 9 month old. We had to put towels down for our baby to sit in it and the tray is still too high. The booster seat is the perfect height and offers a playstation to keep him entertained while you entice him to try new flavors. One of the most high rated ones is the Graco 4-in-1 Seating System.
- Sippy cups: Spencer has 3 different sippy cups. They each teach him a different method of drinking. The AVENT Classic Bottle to 1st Cup Trainer is great for 4-8 months as it moves him away from the nipple and on to using a spout. He got a great Playtex Baby First Straw Cup which taught him to use a straw. It doesn’t leak when thrown in a diaper bag and is great for 6+ months. My favorite is the AVENT Natural Drinking Cup which offers a creative solution to transitioning to using a real cup (10+ months). It also comes with a lid so you can travel with it.
- Baby food containers: You can use generic tupperware or buy small ones specifically made for baby food. Glass jars are popular but cost more and are heavier to put in your diaper bag if you travel. Here are some good options: OXO Tot Baby Blocks, Wean Green Wean Cubes, and Dr. Brown’s Flexpods
Spencer is 9 months old and has yet to have a tooth erupt. But he has been showing signs of teething (lots of drooling, and chewing on everything he could fit into his mouth) since he was 4 months old. Here were some of the teethers that I especially liked for him.
- Lifefactory 2 Pack Multi Sensory Silicone Teether
- Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether
- Baby Teether Ball
- Nuby Silicone Teether with Bristles
I also just learned about the magic of Amber Teething Beads. These emit an oil that your baby absorbs which calms and soothes red gums. There’s a lot of debate over these, so I’ll just let you explore it on your own. If you do decide to get them, I heard the lightest colors are best.
- Lightweight stroller: We started with a full-size luxury stroller. But after taking a few trips on the plane, we realized we needed a light, smaller stroller. We got the Peg-Perego Si Light Weight Stroller which has an excellent sun canopy but the basket is poorly made and doesn’t hold a lot of weight. It’s also quite pricy, but it is very well made. Read my stroller guide for more suggestions on selecting the best stroller for your needs.
- Baby Carriers: After using the Moby Wrap and the Baby Bjorn the first three months, I realized I needed a new sling. The Moby wrap wasn’t the msot comfortable for baby because it is very tight on the baby and it takes forever to put on. The Baby Bjorn just hurts my shoulders. I can’t last more than 10 minutes, especially with a baby gaining weight everyday. We found one at a local thrift store by Infantino and it is extremely comfortable, although it takes a while to put on. If you don’t mind spending more money, try the Ergo Baby. It’s easy to put on and off, and allows you to put your baby on your front or back. Make sure you check out the baby carrier shopping guide.
- Picnic Blanket: You’ll want to get out of the house as often as you can, especially if you’re a full-time mom. A large, baby friendly picnic blanket is a great addition to your baby gear. JJ Cole makes a great All-Purpose Blanket that folds small to go into your diaper bag.
- Sun Protection: Make sure you have lots of sun gear to protect your baby whenever you’re out. Get baby sunscreen, a UPF 50 hat that covers the face, head, and ears, and maybe a large umbrella or tent if you’re out at the beach.
- Baby Hearing Protection Muffs: I am always so worried about my son’s hearing whenever we are out and about. The blast of a car horn, the restuarant buzz, and wedding celebrations all seem to create such a loud atmosphere for my little one. There are a few different earmuffs you can get. One is the Baby SMUFF which is functional but unattractive, the Baby Banz Hearing Protector Earmuffs which is a bit on the bulky side, the BABY & TODDLER Ear Protection Hat (cute but not designed to cancel noise) and the Em’s 4 Bubs Baby Earmuffs.
- Baby Mobile: starting at 2 months of age, Spencer got a mobile. He loved looking at it and it was a great way for him to drift off to sleep without fussing. Spencer had two mobiles: the Tiny Love Classic Mobile is great for his hand/eye coordination and the Precious Planet 2-in-1 Projection Mobile lights up his bedroom ceiling if you take off the mobile.
- Crib: If you haven’t gotten a crib yet, you might want to get one by 3 months. At this point he may have outgrown his bassinet and is sleeping a little longer so you don’t have to get up as often to feed him. Check out the crib buying guide for more detailed suggestions.
Car Seat Canopy: Your baby probably sleeps in the carseat whenever you go for a ride. It’s important to keep his environment dark to help him sleep longer with a shade or cover.
If you’re ready for the next step, check out the best toys for a 1 year old.