Ella’s Favorite Things

Before Ella was born, Dan and I swore to maintain our minimalistic attitudes as parents. No way were we going to be the people with toys strewn about the house and way too many clothes for one baby to wear. Oops! One of my favorite things about being a mom is getting a new toy for Ella and watching her face light up when she goes to figure it out. Of course, most of the time, once the novelty has worn out and she’s “figured it out,” I’m not quite as pleased. But since I was completely clueless about what toys a baby might play with at her age, I thought a post about what she got a lot of use from might be helpful for anyone creating a baby registry or shopping for a young babe.

PLAY MATS
Best Ages: 6 weeks – … (we still use it with Ella and she is 5 Months)

The very first toy that Ella ever became interested in was her Baby Einstein play mat. This thing was an absolute life-saver because for the first time, I could put her down and even walk away for a moment (usually with the video monitor clutched tightly in my hand), and she could entertain herself! We have this one:

but I’m sure she would have been excited to bat at any of the other THOUSANDS of play mats just like this one. It helped her with hand eye coordination and was so funny to watch as she realized that she was the one making the dog’s bell jingle. We spent countless hours on this mat, singing songs, batting at the hangers and just giving the frog the stink-eye. Well worth it to own one, in my opinion. As she got a little older and became more engaged with it, I could even sneak in a shower (albeit a five minute one, but that is a HUGE accomplishment for a mother of a newborn, if you ask me). She doesn’t get QUITE the same kick out of it these days, but she will still lay on it, roll around and indulge her dear old mom from time to time.

FLOOR TOYS

Fisher Price Crawling Snail
Best Ages: 6 Weeks – … (we still use this with Ella)

Oh my goodness, you guys. THIS. SNAIL.

We bought this snail at Kohl’s on a whim with a coupon, but it could not have been a smarter buy. When we first picked it up, she was about six weeks old and basically just liked the lights and music. When she was on her back, if we positioned it correctly, she could hit it with her arm and make it go herself. This has continued to evolve all the way through now, where she hits it while trying to sit up, reaches for it during tummy time and still loves hitting it while lying on her back. She never seems to get sick of it, and we haven’t even had to replace the batteries yet!

VTECH Crawl and Learn Ball
Best Ages: 4months and up

We also have this ball for on the floor, but I think Ella will get a LOT more use out of it once she starts crawling, because it moves around on its own.

She still gets use out of it, even though she isn’t mobile quite yet. She sits up and sort of uses it to prop herself up and she can also bat at it and make it go off when she is lying on her back. It plays a ton of songs and has lots of things to grab and push. My friend’s eight month old son came over one day and he absolutely loved it.

Teepee Ring Hanger (this name is completely made up)
Best Ages: 2months and up

Dan actually made this toy for Ella after seeing something similar on Pinterest, courtesy of our friend, Cassie. Ella has always liked just staring at the ring as it swings by her face, but as her dexterity has increased, she has begun to love batting, grabbing and manipulating the ring and its individual beads (aka: putting them in her mouth).

ringplay ringplay2

 BOOKS

easter3

Right now, Ella is really into two kinds of books: the kind she can jam in her mouth and the kind where she can turn the page. With her second preference in mind, MY favorite kind is a board book with sturdy pages she doesn’t rip.

We love this one:

And this one:

COUNTER TOYS

Ella was able to hold her head up relatively early. We were so excited to see how strong she is, but she easily became frustrated by the fact that she couldn’t yet sit up and look around. We considered a Bumbo seat, but in the end, got an Inglesina High Chair that attaches to the counter or table.

yesterday

It’s been great for having her sit with us as we make food, clean the kitchen or just hang out in that room. We got a few toys to put in front of her while she sits there, but her favorite is THIS genius contraption, the Sassy Wonder Wheel:

She loves whipping the wheel around and watching all the colors spin in front of her. Of course, as many parents will probably also acknowledge, she seems to be MOST fascinated by ordinary kitchen items we place in front of her. So far the biggest hits have been an empty pie tin, a miniature metal funnel, wax paper and a Tupperware tub with a lemon inside.

TOYS FOR THE CAR

We have taken a few road trips with Miss Ella Jo, but aside from that, I frequently pack her along with me to run errands, so it was crucial to me that she enjoy her car seat. These items have really helped with that:

A Baby Mirror
Best Ages: Six Weeks and Up

We originally got this mirror for us, of course. So we could see Ella while driving. But as soon as she discovered how much she enjoyed looking at herself in the mirror, it became our saving grace in the car. The second we clicked the car seat into the base, she would begin smiling at herself and staring at the reflective surface. Keeps her busy for entire car trips sometimes!

A Car Seat/Stroller Arch
Best Ages: 3Months and Up

These just provide something fun to look at, bat it and pull while stuck in a car seat.

A Bottle With Some Stuff In It
Best Ages: 3Months and Up

When Ella started grabbing things with two hands, this idea for a homemade toy came to me instantaneously. She loves the noises, bright colors and easy to grab aspects of this bottle. Literally all I did was pour some bells and beads into an empty Diet Coke bottle, then tie a ribbon around it. It provides way more fun for her than I ever could have imagined. And it was cheap, to boot!

bottle bottle2 bottle3

ACTION TOYS

Johnny Jump Up
Best Ages: Whenever baby can hold her head up without assistance

Though I think technically you are supposed to wait until the baby can sit up to put her in one of these things, we opted to put her in there sooner and just build a little blanket fortress around her to make sure she didn’t fall over. This is by far her favorite toy: sometimes she stays in there for up to an hour at a time. It’s a great solution for when I need to get work done or when I’m cooking dinner. All she really needs is a little encouragement, and she’s a bouncing fool. I like ours because it comes with a musical mat that makes it even more fun for Ella to jump.

jumper jumper2

Those are just a few of Ella’s favorite things for the first five months of life. Of course, we spend plenty of time doing things that don’t require buying any toys at all, and sometimes, those playtimes are the best. But it is absolutely astounding how many toys are available for her age group! Any other spectacular items out there we’ve been missing out on?

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