During your baby’s first few weeks, he won’t have enough co-ordination or muscle tone to support his own head or lift his own toys. The majority of toys at this stage will be simple to help him reach the first few milestones, such as perfecting his vision and reaching.
Suitable from birth until about 6 months, a rocker keeps your baby safe and snug while he has a good look around or keeps an eye on you as you get on with some work. Some are simple, but others have toy bars to encourage your baby to focus his eyes and reach out for toys.
Even in the earliest stages, babies can benefit from tummy time to build strong neck muscles, and a playmat is a great way to get started. Most come with brightly coloured patterns and pictures to help a baby’s young eyes develop, and toys attached for when they get older. However, some young babies get distressed when placed on their front, so consider a bolster cushion to ensure he isn’t lying completely flat. And remember; never leave a young baby unattended on their tummy.
Much like a rocker, a bouncer will keep your baby safe and comfy. It can be a simple seat, or have extras like an activity bar, vibrate function or music player. A bouncer will give a gentle ‘bouncing’ motion with your baby’s own movements.
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If your newborn loves being rocked back and forth, a swing chair could prove invaluable. Some have soft toys and play music; others are simpler, with just a rocking seat.
However, you might want to check how loud the swinging action motor is as some can be quite noisy, and if your baby wants to use it quite often, you might get sick of the sound of it.
A play gym is usually an arch attached to a play mat, with hanging toys to encourage your baby to reach out with his hands and feet. Although your newborn won’t be able to reach the toys yet, he can still enjoy looking at them (which’ll improve his vision), and will be stretching out for them in no time. It also encourages him to move his arms and legs, strengthening the muscles, getting him ready to roll.
A play nest is a variation on a play mat, and is basically a doughnut ring with detachable toys, or a play arch, to keep babies entertained. While these are advertised as suitable from birth, newborns might find it awkward and can slide down. However, play nests are great at encouraging your baby to sit and support himself so are a good investment. If the toys are detachable, he can use them to play with, too.