Cranky Baby Essentials Guide Part Five:
Play With Your Baby

Posted by: Maggie

As we prepare for baby number two, we’ve pulled out all our baby gear and reviewed all the registry recommendation lists to make sure we have everything we will need. In the process, we’ve reminded ourselves of what was the most useful to us and what we thought we’d need, but didn’t really use. So, I’ve put together this guide to share our knowledge with all the parents-to-be out there. I’ve split it into several categories of baby items and within each I’m sharing the “Must Haves,” “Nice to Haves,” and items that you can “Skip.” I hope you find this useful in prepping for your new baby!


I want to preface this by saying that nothing in this category is truly a “Must Have.” Babies have been getting along for millions of years without these things to entertain them, so the musts I list here are really just our favorite things to have for baby.

Tummy Time Mat – For the first few weeks baby will pretty much just eat and sleep, but in time they will have longer and longer periods of wakefulness and you’ll want to entertain them and help their little brains and muscles develop. Pediatricians recommend that babies spend at least 30 minutes a day on their tummies to get them to start to use their arm, leg, and neck muscles. We used a Boppy Tummy Play Pad for tummy time. The mini Boppy helps them feel more comfortable and supported while they get used to being on their tummies and the attachable toys give them something to play with.

Activity Gym – When Eleanor wasn’t in tummy time and we wanted her entertained for 15-20 minutes we used the Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym. Eleanor loved it! There are a variety of different toys that hang from it and are attached to the mat, it also plays music and rainforest sounds and has little slowly changing colored lights in the top that baby can watch while lying on their back. This usually kept her entertained discovering sights, sounds and practicing grabbing and manipulating objects.

Rattles – It’s great to have something for baby to play with to distract them while getting dressed or having their diaper changed.  We like small soft rattles with handles like this Panda Rattle. When Eleanor was bigger and stronger she loved this multi-colored ball thing with soft plastic tubes and a rattle center.


Papasan Seat – Some babies are soothed by these vibrating chairs. We have the Fisher Price Baby Papasan Infant Seat. Eleanor never really cared for it, but it was great to have a place to buckle her in while I took a shower or cooked dinner. I’d just bring her in the bathroom or kitchen with me, put her on the floor in the chair and then talk to her while I went about my business. She wasn’t really interested in the music or vibration from the chair, but as long as I talked to her she was entertained.

Stuffed Animals – Stuffed animals can be great after a couple of months to give baby something soft to grab onto. Eleanor had a little stuffed bunny and some other little blanket loveys that she loved to hold onto.


Playards – Unless you’ll be traveling, baby will be playing upstairs, or once they are crawling if there dangers in your home, I don’t think a Playard is necessary. Chances are you won’t be leaving baby unattended, so there’s no good reason they can’t just be left on the ground instead of being penned up. This is another piece of superfluous baby gear I don’t think you should waste your money on.

Exersaucers, Jumpers, and Baby Seats – I hesitated in writing this because I know that this is a bit of a controversial subject. A lot of parents love their exersaucers, jumpers and baby seats (like the Bumbo Seat) for keeping their babies happy and entertained, and they balk at those that claim they are bad for baby.

I agree that with moderate use these aren’t going to harm a baby. However, Pediatricians do not recommend their use. While being used in moderation (no more than 20 minutes a day) they won’t impede a baby’s physical development, they do not encourage proper development because they force a baby to sit, stand, and walk before they are developmentally able or ready to. If you don’t put a baby in one of these toys and instead give them plenty of time on the floor, especially on their tummies, they will use all their time developing the muscles they need to lift their heads, roll over, sit independently, crawl, pull-up to standing and eventually walk.

So, although they probably don’t hurt a baby, they certainly don’t help the baby at all, and only serve as a minor way to distract baby for a few minutes a day. And to me that makes them a complete waste of money and space.

In case you missed it…





UP NEXT…Part Six: Out and About With Your Baby

One Comment

  1. I like this series! It’s so funny b/c as moms we all are so opininated on what we think we need/must have, but I have to tell you . . . some of it has been totally different with Baby no. 2! The bottles we used for Sam didn’t work out with Mia, and we literally tried like 6 different bottles for Mia – but the good news is (and I didn’t know this) is that Babies R Us will take opened packages of bottles back if they don’t work for your babe. Good to know, right?

    And, I’m a hard core – NO jumperoo kind of mama – that was the FIRST thing we were told when we entered the world of pediatric physical therapists – get RID of them. But, our PTs were okay with bumbos. They don’t “do” much for baby BUT they do allow baby to be upright and engaging in the environment before their bodies are otherwise able to do so. Obviously, though that was more important for a baby who’s body has taken longer to get to the “ready” point. Anyway, I always have to bite my tongue when I see a friend’s registry and it has the jumperoo on it . . . but you know what? Mia’s development is so very typical at this point and the other day, I actually thought “maybe she would like a jumperoo.” Because sometimes, I just need a place to put her for a moment where she’s safe and I can do stuff. But, I think having *that* old jumperoo in our house would just sort of sting. I have sad memories of realizing our girl just couldn’t do it – with Sam – and having to move it to the garage. Sigh.

    Okay, so that’s my spiel, but on a lighter note, I’m totally totally jealous of your diaper bag.

    Oh, and the baby monitor is totally on my “can’t live without” list ;o) When I’m super super exhausted, I can literally be the deepest sleeper EVER and I wouldn’t hear the girls crying from their rooms.

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