Sunday, May 27, 2012

BABY TOYS & DISCOVERY BOTTLES



When Mike and I found we were expecting, we were over the moon excited! We had been trying to conceive for over a year. We had taken many pregnancy tests that all came back negative, so when I took what felt like the millionth preggo test one early morning in October and it said 'PREGNANT' I was SHOCKED! Mike was making breakfast and looked up at me as I stood in the kitchen next to him saying "I can't find the 'not'!" It took him a second to realize what I was talking about when he saw the test in my hand. We couldn't believe it. We felt so blessed that we were actually pregnant and scared to death at the same time knowing we were going to be parents. 

In the last several months we have LOVED finding items for Baby B. We have read a lot about different products on everything from diapers to furniture and everything in-between. We have spent many hours strolling through baby stores and investigating the array of baby products. The one comment I did make to Mike early on was, "I don't want a ton of baby toys because they usually would rather play with a water bottle." Since then, I have fallen head over heels for some adorable baby toys and I am perfectly fine eating my words today. Now, this isn't to say I love all baby toys because many of them I find completely ridiculous and impractical, but I thought I would share with you how I shop for Baby B's toys.

1. Sensory
Look for toys that will  help the baby learn/enhance their senses. Different textures are so IMPORTANT for babies. Everyday they are taking in new things through touch, sound, taste, smell and sight. If every toy bought is super smooth, what's the fun in that? Find toys that have bumps, ridges, bright colors, patterns, sounds, etc, but always make sure it's made for a baby.
2. Material 
This closely relates to the senses. Not every toy needs to be made from plastic! Introduce the baby to fabric, ribbon and wood. There are so many fantastic toys out there not made of plastic, sometimes you just need to look in the right places.
3. Functionality 
Always ask what the point of the toy is. Is the toy simply to keep the baby 'entertained' for 10 minutes or is the toy going spark the imagination in your baby so they can learn how to manipulate it in different ways? I love finding toys that I know will help a baby learn (educational) and teach them to have an imagination (creativity)

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I really dislike toys with lots of buttons and are shaped like electronics, because I believe they need to learn to be creative with materials. If they don't learn how to play pretend or use their imagination they may always expect that everything can be taught or done with the push of a button. To me that sounds BORING! So many school-age kids would rather sit inside playing video games instead of going outside to play. Many people wonder why and it's probably because....they don't know how! By constantly putting technology in front of a child, whether it be a cell phone, iPad, T.V., video games, whatever....you're helping them lose their sense of play and imagination.
Now I'm not saying technology is bad by any means, I love my iPhone and obviously my computer because I am writing on here to all of you; I do think it's important they learn how to use a computer, but limit the time, don't let that be their only toy or their 'go to' toy. Teach the child how to use their imagination, because seeing a child with no imagination is very sad. Sorry...end rant!

Okay, onto more fun toys! Here are some of our favorites we've found, no we have not purchased all of these, but these are some great toys for infants as they grow.



 
Zolo by Kushies Fuzzi Lovebug
I love Zolo by Kushies, especially this little Fuzzi Lovebug! He has 6 legs just like an insect, he's textured with fuzzy fabric, cotton and ribbon, he's also VERY brightly colored and includes black and white for infants!



 

Super Yummy Teether by Discovery Toys
A good friend of mine gave this to me as a gift and swears by it! This teether has 5 different textured knobs and is very easy for baby to hold and turn. It also has a sweet vanilla scent! 







 

Zolo by Kushies Beanstax
These cuties can be stacked and tossed. They again are brightly colored,  made from multiple materials and inspire little ones to use their imagination!  Can you tell I LOVE Zolo by Kushies?!?!









 
Wood Teether Giraffe by littlesaplingtoys on Etsy
These adorable wood teethers come in all shapes including States! They are made from Hard Rock Maple which is a non-splintering wood. It is also naturally anti-bacterial, non-allergenic and non toxic!








Imaginarium Sensory Balls
These are great for size, texture, color, rolling and easy to hold. Toddlers love feeling the different bumps on the inflatable, brightly colored balls.







 


 
Skip Hop Treetop Friends Ball Trio
These super cute, colorful birds are easy to grab, squeeze and roll! They're squishy and soft...perfect for baby!








Water Blocks Water Blocks by Plan Toys
I am in LOVE with water blocks! Of course these are better suited for children a little bit older, but these are so much fun to play with! These blocks are not only great for stacking, building and balancing, but when you put two different primary colors together they create a new secondary color....great for color recognition!











Measure Up! Cups from Discovery Toys
These are great for growing with baby! They can be used with water (sand, soil, snow for when baby gets older!!!) to learn about volume, they can stack, they can also be used with play dough!








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Lastly, one of my favorite toys to make with children that they absolutely LOVE are Discovery/Sensory Bottles. These are so easy to make and you can fill them with practically anything!

Here's a few links to some fantastic and creative ideas for sensory bottles. 
Preschool Play
Childcare Lounge
Teachers.Net
Angel Fire
Sensory Bottles

Here's how to make some of my favorite Discovery Bottles
(REMEMBER...GREAT FOR BABIES, TODDLERS and OLDER CHILDREN!)

For ALL Discovery Bottles, begin with an empty clear plastic bottle with the label removed.
Once finished filling your bottle, use a hot glue gun to glue the cap back on the bottle or you can use clear packaging tape. Twist it like you normally would, let it cool and double check to make sure it's sealed so it won't leak. You can cover the cap with fabric or tie ribbon around the top. 
(Be sure everything is glued/sealed so nothing falls off and becomes a choking hazard)

 
 Ocean Wave
Fill half the bottle with water and put a drop of blue food coloring. Fill one quarter of the bottle with baby oil. Drop in a few small plastic ocean animals or small seashells and seal the lid with hot glue or you can use packaging tape. Let them shake up the bottle and see the oil and water mix and then separate. 

I first tried using beach themed sequins, but they were too light and didn't work! I also would NOT recommend putting glitter in this bottle because it gets stuck to the sides and it's not as pretty.

Glitter 
I LOVE THIS ONE!!! Fill bottle with desired amount of glitter (you can use glitter strands too). Fill with water. Color the water with food coloring if you wish. Seal cap with hot glue or tape. Shake and watch the glitter swirl!

Pipe Cleaners
NO WATER NEEDED! Cut up different colored pipe cleaners.  Seal the cap with hot glue or tape. For infants and toddlers they can shake the bottle and observe the different colors. For older children use magnetic wands to draw the pipe cleaners up the side of the bottle.

Scented Flower
NO WATER NEEDED! Simply place a silk flower inside bottle and put a few drops of artificial flower fragrance oil.  Puncture a few holes in the top of the cap. Seal the bottle and cap with hot glue and/or tape. I love using different scents. You could have a set of discovery bottles that focus entirely on smells.

Sound Bottle
NO WATER NEEDED! Put beans, popcorn kernels, pasta and rice in different bottles. 


Rain Bottle
NO WATER NEEDED! Fill bottle with toothpicks and make sure they scatter the bottle. Add rice. Seal the bottle and cap with hot glue. Flip the bottle over to hear the rice move through the toothpicks to make the sound of rain.

***You can find all sorts of foil confetti, glitter and trinkets at party stores ***
(Factory Card Outlet, Party City, Five Below, Nobbies (Oriental Trading), Michaels, AC Moore, Hobby Lobby)

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We hope you take some time and make a few of these with your children. I'm sure they will absolutely love them! If you have questions feel free to leave a comment and I will answer you the best I can!


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