When we were buying things and preparing for the baby’s arrival, it didn’t occur to me that we needed toys. Fast forward 6 weeks after her birth when she stopped sleeping all the time, I realized that I had nothing to entertain her with. How do you entertain a baby who can’t even raise her neck? Reading online discussions, I realized we needed an activity gym. In case you didn’t know, an activity gym is an arch over your baby with hanging toys.
Amazon reviewers recommend the Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano Gym
My favorite way to shop is online, specifically through Amazon, even when I’m in a store. Amazon is great because they have consolidated hundreds of reviews by real people to help me decide whether to buy. The best selling activity gym is the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym, so we got it. (We had good results with the FP Rock and Play, which was also highly recommended on Amazon. I’m a believer in FP products now.) I briefly considered the activity gym sold by Ikea (they have random gems sometimes), which had some good reviews that were questionable (“the wooden design fits into the aesthetics we had envisioned…”).
Baby likes her kick piano, I think
I was a little upset with myself for forgetting to buy my baby a toy. The other kids had a headstart, lying in their gym from day 1. Fortunately, most parents report that their newborns don’t really show any awareness of their toy until week 4 and beyond, so we haven’t missed out on too much fun.
Baby didn’t seem that excited about having things to look at overhead, but I think she understood the kick piano part pretty quickly. She does randomly kick while lying in her crib, but she definitely kicked more when there was musical feedback from the kick piano. Her first play session lasted 10 mins, and I thought it was a success. We can work on the hanging toys later.
Weeks later, our baby still hasn’t shown much interest in swatting at the hanging toys. But she does enjoy kicking the piano first thing when she wakes up in the morning. I leave her on the piano gym while I wash up in the morning. One weekend when she was about 10 weeks, my husband said “she’s kicking the hanging toys. Is that for real?” We watched her for a little longer, and it was for real. Baby hasn’t figured out how to use her t-rex arms, but she could curl her legs up to kick the hanging toys. I was pretty proud of her for figuring out that the things above could be reached by kicking.
Let them figure out how to play
One of my friends insists on buying open-ended toys for children, that promote multiple play methods like color pencils and paper. Educators also advise us to let children figure out how to play instead of showing them how to play – the kid who figures out how to play will come up with tens of ways to play, while the kid who learns how to play will only play the one way she was shown. (I’ll have to admit that I only read a review of The Gardener and the Carpenter by Alison Gopnik. I should try to read the actual book.)
Baby is 12 weeks old, and I think over the last week or so, she has finally figured out she can use her hands to swat at the hanging toys. That’s great, except now I have to figure out what the next toy purchase should be. That’s a question for the pediatrician next week, although I suspect she will ask me to focus on developing her neck muscles.