While expecting the arrival of our first little one, I was quite overwhelmed by all the fun gadgets that were available for her entertainment. Everything from a jumperoo, exersaucers, play mats, toys for the car seat, toys for the swing, etc. I had a neighbor friend that received most of these for her little girl (born shortly after Karis) and I found myself struggling inwardly with desiring these items for Karis as well. Sounds silly? Well, they all looked so fun and did keep the little one entertained…
But…the question that I had to ask myself was did I really want my child to have all these gadgets? Would a huge supply of toys really entertain her or rather teach her that she had to be entertained by stuff? This overwhelming load of fun things could just as easily fill her with disatisfaction, and she could grow to need new and better things to keep her satisfied.
In the end we concluded that it was not necessary to invest in an abudance of gadgets…even when you can get them at a good price (using the wonderful tools of craigslist or garage saling!). We wanted Karis to learn to be content with a few toys and also develop the creativity to entertain herself. We also did not want to buy into the consumerism mentality that eventually just leads to increased waste. As we desire to be good stewards of our environment, this is very important to us. I was amazingly surprised by how easily she finds entertainment in such simple things, everything from tin food cans, measuring cups, the lid drawer, books, etc. At 15 months she doesn’t play with alot of toys…in fact, she would more often be found exploring the house.
This being said…I have a few recommendations of items that we found very useful, helpful for development and worthwhile to invest in. Please note that it is not necessary to have all these items new. You would be surprised how many people buy lots of new things for their one child and then sell it after just one child’s use, leaving it in practically new condition. Craigslist here we come! Also note, these are just my personal thoughts and opinions and are open to differing opinions.
1. Take Along Swing – this item is compact and easily movable! This works especially well in small places and can be easily transported upstairs, which was a very nice feature. We also took this with us on a few vacations. We bought this new at Babies R’ Us, but they are also readily available on craigslist. Worked well from 0-6 months.
2. Johnny Jump-up - I remember the days my younger siblings entertained themselves for long periods of time in this jumper! Great for developing the strength in their legs, small, and lots of fun! We borrowed this from a friend the first time around, so we will have to find one for sale with the next one. I have seen them for under $10 on craiglist or garage sales. We had a Graco one with a basic tray, which works well for snacks or to give them small things to play with. Works well from 6-10 months or so.
3. Walker (this one linked is as close to simple as I could find for an example!)- This was a hand me down from my family. This worked very well as Karis learned to walk. She used it for several months, and now she just loves to walk and push it around. I was surprised how well it actually works on carpet (as that is what we have in the majority of our house). We kept downstairs to avoid the risk of falling down the stairs in it. There are alot of fancy ones out there that are significantly large or have excessive toys on them. We have a small one with a tray and no additional toys. Works well for us from 10-15 months, or until they start walking.
4. High chair - we choice a portable space saver high chair that secures on top of a chair. This works well especially for small places as in our home. It is portable which made it wonderful for bringing on vacation or when invited to other friends’ homes. Made feeding times so much easier!
5. Baby Carrier – I am a huge fan of the ergo baby carrier! This was the best investment we have made. We tried the standard bjorn and found it extremely uncomfortable to the back. The ergo provides more significant support and works in three different positions (front, back and side). We also love the Moby Wrap as a snug comfortable hands free fit for the early months of life.
We bought our carseats and stroller off of craigslist as well, saving ourselves a pretty penny. The Lord provides! We also found a pack n’ play to be very useful, another great traveling item.
Things we borrowed or bought but then later sold because we found to be nice but ultimately unnecessary in our opinion and mainly adding to clutter were an exersaucer, play mat, and bouncer (the swing covered any need for the bouncer, accomplishing the same purpose). I had also bought so many “safe” bath toys over the years, only to discover that they would get all moldy and gross. And you know what? My kiddos are perfectly happy in the bath now with just a little toy matchbox car.
Next week…we will dive into simplifying the toy collection as the infants grow!