Baby Toys and Play Time Tips

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Baby Corrals

Once your curious little baby starts crawling, he'll be trying to get into everything. You may now find that you can't put him down to play on the carpet and have him stay put anymore. This shouldn't have to be a problem, though, if you get the right equipment. Now is the time to invest in a baby corral (or baby play center), an enclosed play area that keeps the baby confined inside and away from dangerous and unsafe areas of your home.

There are many types of corrals, some are big with attached toys on the walls others are smaller, to be used inside the home and/or smaller apartments. You can choose from a simple style made up of separate plastic 'fence' style panels, thicker colorful plastic walls with matching floor mats or even wooden styles or clear plastic ones. Whichever one works best for you, it will be a great item to keep the baby busy as well as your sanity!

You can create a great play area by putting a bunch of toys inside the corral and let baby have some fun. Baby corrals are also indispensable when the baby starts walking. Most corrals can be used inside and outside so you can take them with you to the beach, park, friend's house, backyard or anywhere! So pick one that folds up easily so you can quickly pack it in the car and go!

How old should a baby be before you buy him or her books?

Baby Toys for Ages 4 to 6 Months

Watching your baby learn and grow is a large part of the fun and excitement of being a parent. Most babies love to play with toys so getting the right ones will ensure that your little one will be busy for many hours.

Of course, reading to little ones also ensures great learning fun so books should definitely be part of your baby's life as well.

Here are some toy ideas that will provide educational fun and help baby develop his skills.

  • Toys with music buttons

  • Music and alphabet electronic play tables

  • Rattles

  • Wooden toys safe to chew on

  • Squeezable toys with or without squeaky noise

  • Unbreakable mirrors

  • Teething toys

  • Floor gyms with hanging toys (get one with a thick pad so baby is comfortable)

  • Soft cloth or vinyl books

  • If baby is able to sit with assistance, consider a Bumbo seat or bebePod style chair to promote propper sitting. Get one with a toy tray.

Babies love to put everything into their mouth at this stage, make sure the toys you get are safe to chew on and also check the age ranges on the box.

What suggestions would you make for buying a toy for a 10-month old?

Baby Toys for Ages 10 to 12 Months

When your baby reaches 10 months she'll likely be crawling and possibly trying to walk. A good idea at this stage is to invest in a baby corral where your baby can play and be safe from common household dangers such as loose items on tables, climbing hazards, electrical plugs etc...

You can fill her corral area with fun toys she'll be able to play with without boredom. Some ideas are:

  • Thick board books with stories you can read to baby

  • Toy key rings made of safe wood or plastic.

  • Purses filled with plastic versions of lipsticks, keys, cell phones, etc.

  • Sturdy cloth toys like dolls, animals, tucks and cars.

  • Pop-up boxes and other cause and effect toys.

  • Fillable containers

  • Stackable toys like blocks in larger sizes.

  • Push-pull toys like walking animals or carts.

  • Wooden push toys

This age group is particularly fun to observe as they go through their discovery stage. Remember to invest in toys that stimulate the mind, but meet safety standards as well.

How should we safely cool off the kids in the summer heat?

Backyard Water and Kid Pool Play

When the summer heat hits, the best way to cool off is with water. Take the children outside and let them get wet! So many options are available for summer water play that children of all ages can easily find cool entertainment.

For younger babies, sit with them in a kid pool. Place them safely between your legs and allow them to play with a pool toy. Many pool toy options are available for a young baby with simple ideas such as cups to fill and empty, squeeze and squirt toys, water boats and plastic animals. For cost savings, simply bring your bath toys outside for the day.

An older child also has the option of playing in a large plastic tub filled with water. Much like a kid pool without having to get wet, a child can play next to the water with a pool toy. Water is truly an amazing learning activity and the summer weather provides a great opportunity for a young scientist to explore advanced concepts such as density, buoyancy and spatial relations through basic water pool toy play.

Toddlers will enjoy low to the ground sprinklers, like Disney's Finding Nemo Water Sprinkler and simply using the mist function on standard hose nozzle. Cover them with waterproof sunscreen and let them run and keep cool. For the younger crowd, One Step Ahead offers an interesting sprinkler play mat kid pool called the Soft Sprinkles Tide Pool, designed to give a younger child a less intense sprinkler experience.

Remember that with any water play, drowning is always a potential hazard. A young child can drown in an inch of water if left unattended for even a second. Place safety and attention at your highest importance whenever enjoying water play with your children.

How do you entertain kids while traveling?

Toys For Summer Vacation

Whether by train, plane or automobile, summer is the time for family travel. When this travel involves young children, the struggle to entertain them comes into play. Make your summer vacation the best possible with simple toy ideas to help ease the pain of family travel.

One trick of the parent travel trade is to pack one new toy and one favorite special toy into your summer vacation travel bag. Depending on the age of your child, the choices are limitless. For very young babies, a special blanket and a new sensory toy, like the Whoozit by Manhattan Baby, will suffice for basic entertainment. Older children might appreciate their softest stuffed toy and a new box of small trinkets to open and explore. Simply take a smaller plastic box with a lid and fill with little snacks, interesting plastic toys and art supplies. The excitement of simply opening and closing the box of hidden treasures is often enough for family travel amusement.

While in the car, music and audio toys are great for a long summer vacation drive. Try a book on tape either from the bookstore or library, or make one of your own. Babies love to hear their parents' voices, so record yourself reading their favorite books and play it as you drive. Sturdy books and safe teethers are also great for younger baby toys during family travel time. For a rear-facing infant, travel with a back seat mobile. Just make sure they are approved for safe use in a vehicle by checking with the manufacture or

Should we take our baby to the local swimming pool?

Swimming Pool Play

Most babies enjoy the water and being in it. It is not too early to introduce a baby to the pool when they are even just a couple of months old. You can start by taking your baby in with your and just hold her while you are in the shallow end. See how she reacts and if she seems ok with it let her explore and splash the water. As she grows accustomed to the pool you can get a baby float which will allow you to taker her all around the pool while she is safely seated in the float.

There are a few different styles of baby floats, check around baby stores and online catalogues to see which one will work best for your baby. If you want to check for safety reports go to Try to get one that has a sunshade canopy to protect the baby from too much sun.

Of course, always remember to put sunscreen on the baby when you take her to the pool or even put a light cotton shirt on her for swimming. Be very watchful of the baby while in the water and always keep in close range of her. Also, be sure to have a couple of towels ready for when you take her out of the pool as babies can't regulate their temperature very well yet and get easily cold.

So once the hot weather arrives get out to the pool and have fun swimming!

What types of toys are appropriate for a newborn?

Baby Toys for Newborns

Newborns don't have the ability to play using their hands yet, so any toys you get at this stage will serve mostly for visual stimulation. The best toys to get are brightly colored as well as black and white ones. Young babies can't see very well, things are actually quite blurry for them, but they can see bold patterns and bright colors if close enough. Newborn babies can detect movement too, so a mobile above the bassinet will also get their attention.

Another good toy is a rattle which you can shake around your baby and he can follow the sounds, babies' hearing, unlike their sight, is almost perfect when they are born.

So don't go too crazy for toys yet, but focus on working baby's reflexes. A simple bold colored pillow you can wave back and forth close enough for him to see, or a black and white wall hanging you can place near the bassinet will hold his interest for a good while.


Baby Toys for Ages 7 to 9 months

Many babies can sit up unattended by around 6 or 7 months. This opens up a whole new 'playing' field for them as they can now have a different perspective on the world around them. Once they can sit up they will really start to play with more toys and they will learn to reach for them too, prompting them to start crawling as well.

Some good toys for this age stage are:

  • Toys that move and make sounds (they encourage creeping and eventually crawling)

  • Wooden blocks with colored shapes

  • Interactive music and sound toys

  • A bouncer with toys attached (to encourage the baby to move around to get to the toys get a bouncer that swivels all the way around)

  • Teething toys (these are good for all stages until all teeth have come out)

  • Toy remote controls ad mobile phones

  • Musical tables with legs

  • Hand held musical and alphabet toys

  • Shape sorting cubes or buckets

Remember to always make sure the toys you pick are safe for your baby and appropriate for her age. To check for safety of baby toys visit the US PIRG website's toy section and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.


Baby Magazine Activities

There are quite a few great educational magazines available for babies and toddlers today. You can start reading and doing the activities with your baby in these magazines at just 6 or 7 months of age. Babybug magazine is a great one for babies and has many fun stories and baby activities. This magazine offers a great way to start reading to your baby as well as many read along activities to do with him. Wild Animal Baby is another good baby magazine to get your little one interested in stories and reading as is High Five from Highlights (this one is for older babies, starting at around 2 years old).

The good thing about these magazines is that they also publish other versions for different age stages, so as your baby grows so does his reading and activity fun.

Some of the magazines to keep in mind as baby grows are Turtle, Humpty Dumty, Jack and Jill, Cricket, Ladybug, Spider and Highlights. All these offer great learning fun and activities for your kids that you will be able to join in on as well. You'll enjoy baking, making crafts, doing science experiments and many more fun and educational activities. It's never too early to start, so on a rainy, cold, or just lazy day curl up with baby on the couch, break open your Babybug magazine and have some fun!


Kiddie Pools

If you don't have a swimming pool at home you can get the next best thing, a kiddie pool! There are many types and sizes of kiddie pools that the whole family can enjoy. There are inflatable pools and also hard plastic ones and they are all quite affordable all you need is the water.

Amazon has a large variety of kiddie pools, you can browse through there and see pictures and customer reviews.

As with a regular pool, you can take the baby in with you and show her the water and let her splash while you hold her. If you get a big enough pool, you can also use a float in the kiddie pool with your baby. You can also get a few floating toys for her to play with while in the pool.

Almost all these kiddie pools are easy to set up and can be stored without taking a lot of space. You can refill the water everyday you use the pool, or use special water filtration system for small pools. You can find kits that are specially made for kiddie pools. This way you can leave the water in for a few days; just get a cover for the pool to keep leaves and insects out.

And, as you know, make sure the kids don't go near the pool without any adult supervision. Another option with the cover is to get one that is kid proof so they can't get in while you are not around.


Floor Play Time

Once your baby is able to sit up steadily on her own a good play activity for her is floor play time. You can lay a thick comforter for padding (if you have carpet that should probably be cushy enough, or you can lay a soft blanket on the carpet as well), then put a few of your baby's favorite toys around her and let her have a blast!

Most babies enjoy sitting, especially when they first start to be able to do so by themselves and they also love having a bunch of toys around them they can play with and explore at their leisure. This play time will also give you a break so you can do your own playing like check email, read a book, relax, watch TV, or if you are a kid at heart, you can get right on the floor with baby and play along!

Of course, once baby starts crawling you may have to adjust the play area and be ready to go fetch her if she gets into something she shouldn't. Another option is to get a 'baby corral', a play area with walls to prevent her from taking off. You can find a variety of different baby corral styles at most babies stores and also online at stores such as Amazon.

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Christina Chan