Christmas Gift Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

The season is now upon us: Christmas!!! I love Christmas, even more now that I have children to share it with. I have been excitedly buying and stashing gifts for them, some requested and some surprises.

Maybe it is your child’s first Christmas and you want to make it memorable. Or maybe you have opted to make their second Christmas special since on their first they were too young to join the fun and enjoy it. (I can understand this because two of my kids were born in November and were only about 7 weeks old on their first Christmas.)

But as a first-time mommy it is understandable that you might be stumped as to what to get them. You see so many great things, but what is best? My top recommendation is Fisher-Price toys. Why?

1. Quality – they are sturdy and solid.
2. Colorful – they attract children and are fun to use. I find them attractive for me too.
3. Educational – the majority of them teach some skill or educate the child in some way.
4. Most importantly – they don’t break. Toys that break after a few uses are a waste of money. Invest in quality items and they will last a long time.

Here are some of the Fisher-Price toys my children have or had.

 

This was Logan’s first Christmas gift and his first toy. It is still attached to my stroller even now and Scarlett is using it.

I bought him these trucks when he was three months old and we still have them, except for the smallest one. It got lost.

 

 

This was Logan’s first birthday gift. He loved it and played with it until it didn’t make noise any more. He just kept those songs going and going all day long. (Warning: Noisy toys can make mommies go crazy. So if you really want to get a toy like this, do yourself a favor and get some earplugs too.)

 

 

 

Another gift. See it in his hand?

 

Lila was 8 months old on her first Christmas so I got her something she could work with, as opposed to a rattle. She figured it out quickly.

 

For her first birthday, Lila got these two toys. Too bad the book got lost; they enjoyed it a lot. We still have the shape sorter and Scarlett uses it now.

 

Scarlett just had her first birthday and I got her this Tiger Stacker. She really enjoys it.

 

And for Christmas, she is getting this toy, the Growing Baby Musical Xylo Fish. I can’t wait to see how much she enjoys it.

While I consider Fisher-Price a top brand for small children’s toys, it is by no means the only good brand out there. Some other good ones that I am familiar with are Duplo and Playskool. I also love good wooden toys, though I don’t have a specific brand in mind for that.
I hope this is a help to you. Happy shopping!
Disclaimer: I’ve written this as an idea-giver. It is not a review for Fisher-Price toys. I was not asked to do this and all thoughts and ideas are my own.
What is your favorite toy brand and what do you think you will be getting your child this Christmas?

There Must Be a Toy Monster in the House

Before I had my own children, I spent a number of years as a fulltime live-in nanny/caregiver/preschool teacher (yes, I did all those things with the children I cared for). One thing that used to bug me was when toy sets were incomplete or puzzles had missing pieces or when books were damaged. I hated it. It messed with my desire to keep things orderly and complete.
When my son was born, I bought him some toys and books, and was determined to never lose a piece to a set or to let them get damaged in any way. Of course a newborn hardly even bothers to look at his toys, so there was no problem there.
As Logan got older, I kept tabs on his toys and made sure to pick them all up when he was finished playing. I would even count the plastic animals and Lego pieces to make sure they were all there. Books were limited to reading with mommy since he took to biting them early on. Aside from wanting complete sets and mint-condition books, I didn’t want to waste money by things being lost or destroyed when it was preventable.
I don’t know when I first noticed it, but ever so slowly things started to disappear. First one plastic animal, then another, then a piece of Lego. At first I would scan the house, looking in every nook and cranny and at times finding something that was missing, but what bothered me the most was things that never showed up. Where were they going??
I think he was over 2 when both his bottle and sippy cup disappeared in the same week. I couldn’t believe it. They were no where to be found. I gave him the cup one morning full of milk, and minutes later he didn’t have it and I could not find it. Sometime later I saw him throw a cloth over the balcony. That is when it clicked. Why had I not thought to check if he was throwing stuff over? I had never seen him do it so I never thought he did it.
That was when I took to checking the ground below the balcony whenever something went missing. Often I found what he threw down and other times they had already been taken. I guess the people finding the toys figured no one wanted them and kept them.
Logan got good at losing toys and I eased up on keeping perfect tabs on his toys. After all, I have more important things to spend my time on. Yes, he has cost me a lot of money in the last 4 years. He has destroyed more books and puzzles and lost more toys than I ever thought was possible. Every time I sware I won’t buy him any more, yet I continue to do so. You’d think I’d learned my lesson, but how can I say no when he asks for yet another farm puzzle or a book about animals?
My job now is teaching him to care for what I give him. In the mean time, I keep all the good books on a high shelf, and if I do give in and get him a puzzle for his soon-coming birthday (he’ll be 4 next month), I guess I’ll have to watch it closely too and keep it out of reach when he isn’t using it. Too bad for me; those things are supposed to keep him busy when I have other things to do, not give me more work.

Anyone else experience this? How have you taught your toddler or preschooler to care for their things?

This post was inspired by this one from Amber at Crappy Pictures. Check her out.

Toys – A Source of Pain, Stress and Insanity

I was thinking today that toy manufacturers must not actually interact with children. See, I had a painful meeting of the sole of my foot with a large piece of Lego while I was carrying the baby this morning. Someone had kindly dumped their Lego’s in my room just so that something like this could happen.

Toys like that should come with a warning: “Painful if stepped on.” Sure they are educational. You learn about construction, colors, physics, and pain.

And what about noisy toys? “Will cause insanity if listened to repeatedly“.

Logan had a Nemo toy when he was a baby that sang the most irritating song, and it wouldn’t go off either, unless I turned it off. He loved it; I didn’t. Lila has a duck that used to quack. Now it doesn’t after too many trips in the washer. For Christmas I put some phones in their stockings, and regretted it by the end of the day. I was happy when those stopped working. And let’s not forget the annoying sounds that came from that walker music tray. Painful! I was so happy when that one died.

I can just imagine it: a roomful of toy designers (who are all childless) sitting around a very large table in a quiet room, discussing what they should make next.

“This new toy has to be attractive”, says one.

“And educational”, says another.

“What about loud? Kids love loud things.” quips a third clueless designer.

“I know – we can have it sing the ABC’s and ‘Old MacDonald’ in a high-pitched voice.”

“Oh, yes, kids like the songs and parents will be happy ’cause the kids are learning something.”

… and this is how noisy, painfully annoying  toys come to be.

 

They should all be sold with complementary earplugs!!!

Balloon Adventure

Today I took the kids out for a walk to visit Logan’s favorite dog friends. He still loves dogs but only as long as they are quiet. As soon as they begin barking, he gets super scared and cries. I don’t know where he got that from as a few months ago he loved it when they would bark.

Anyway, we were petting a small white dog who likes to jump on Logan. He doesn’t mind that and is always happy to see her; then the balloon man came down the street. He has a bicycle, and on it sticks with large balloons and pinwheels blowing in the wind. He was rubbing his fingers on a balloon to attract attention and the dog didn’t like it so she started barking. Logan right away got scared so I had to pick him up and distract him with the balloons instead.

My intention was to just show him the balloons but the man right away passed Logan first a pinwheel and then a balloon as he asked for them. Well, I couldn’t say no then. Besides, I only had to pay 20 rupees (roughly 50 cents) for them and Logan was so happy.
We went home and Lila enjoyed watching the pinwheel while Logan played with the balloon. Lila was absolutely fascinated with the pinwheel and spent a good half hour watching it spin.



It’s a good thing I took pictures when I did, for not long later the balloon popped loudly, freaking Logan out. He just can’t handle loud noises right now. I hope he gets over this fear soon as Independence Day is coming up and the amount of fire crackers that will be blowing make it sound like a battlefield outside.

My little clown. He likes to ham it up for the camera.

I don’t know how to explain this one, but it sure is cute. I love her eyes especially. She looks like a wannabe bodybuilder.

Things That Make My Week

This week two things have happened to both make my week good and bad. Well, not bad in a terrible sense but more like very difficult.

The bad thing is that the washer broke down. The repair men have been here no less than four times this week and it is still not fixed. First it was the motor, then the timer, then something else, then the new motor was actually not new and needs to be replaced again. And I am still waiting for them to show up again and get it going. The good thing about this is that the machine is under warranty so the company replaces parts for free, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth all the trouble.

I’ve been doing laundry by hand all week – Logan’s pee-pee laundry, Glad’s clothes that he needed for his trip, the baby’s diapers. Actually, I decided to make it easy for myself and use disposable diapers until the machine is fixed, but there is still LOTS of laundry, including bedding. All my sheets are dirty and will have to be done by hand if this thing isn’t fixed soon. Logan peed on several of them this week, so I can’t leave those for too long. And with Glad gone I am doing everything myself. I’ll be happy when he gets back.

The good thing is that a special prayer was answered this week. First a little background. For some time now I’ve wanted to get a rocking horse for Logan.  Not because he wanted one, but because it is something fun for a child his age and I just wanted to get it for him. You know how when you’re a parent you sometimes want to get things for your child “just because”. A shop near our house had a cute one that wasn’t expensive, but it was money we couldn’t afford to spend when there are so many other more important things to buy, so I had to not think about it. A few days ago while looking at a picture of a rocking horse, I told Logan, “Let’s pray for one.” He folded his little hands and I prayed a simple prayer, “Jesus, if you want Logan to have a rocking horse, please give it to him.” Then I forgot about it.

Yesterday we got a parcel of things for the children, mostly clothes, but when I opened it, the first thing I noticed was…you guessed it…a rocking horse! I was so excited because this was my desire, not even something we really needed – it was just a want, and here the Lord went and gave it to us. Maybe He was just waiting for me to pray for it. It may not be as fancy as the one I wanted to buy, but seeing how much Logan enjoys using it makes me happy, and it was a chance to show him that Jesus answers prayer when we ask. That truly made my week.

Thank you, Tina, for the parcel. The baby clothes are just beautiful, and as for the horse, you have made a little boy and his mommy very happy.

Samsung

So happy with his new toy.

Growing Rascal

This is just an update on Logan.

He can now pull himself into a standing position while holding the furniture. He did it the other day when I wasn’t looking and I was so surprised to see him standing by the bed instead of kneeling like he usually does. Now he tries it a few times a day for practice sake. I can see him soon standing on his own and walking can’t be too far away.

He also loves exploring on his own. He will crawl all over the house and get into EVERYTHING. If it is not out of his reach, he will take it. You should see what the newspaper looks like after he gets his hands on it! Right now he is ripping each small piece into an even smaller piece. Sooner or later he has to put one of those pieces in his mouth and then I have to take the newspaper away from him.

Something else he has been doing lately (that is NOT good) is waking up in the middle of the night JUST TO PLAY! Can you imagine? I usually wake up from the noise of toys being thrown or some such thing and then I have to stay awake until he is ready to fall asleep again. I can lay him down and pat him all I want, but he won’t sleep until he is good and ready. And if I leave him alone in his bed, within seconds he is up and trying to reach me in my bed. So I have been falling asleep on his bed on the floor. I lie next to him and make him lie still but I usually fall asleep first.

Thankfully he doesn’t do this every night. I can’t wait to get the crib ’cause then he won’t be able to get out. Can you imagine what it is like to wake up to noises in your room and discovering your baby is crawling all over and playing with everything he can find? Usually he will first wake up for a bottle, and if he is really tired he will fall asleep while drinking it, not opening his eyes at all. But other times he doesn’t go back to sleep but gets out of bed instead. The little rascal! We have a rocking chair in the living room and he tries to stand up while holding on to it, but has to give up after a few tries. He can’t figure out why the chair won’t hold still.

My Toys – By Logan

Hi everyone. This is Logan. Usually mommy does all the talking on here and all she can talk about is me (ok, so I’m very important), but I want to talk about something I like – my toys.
These are my “odds and ends” toys. I like the ball because it makes noise, and I love to bang those cups together. Mommy tries to stack them for me but I knock them down quickly. It’s not good to leave anything standing. The little lamb came from grandma, and the key ring is one of my favorites because it makes so much noise. Each of the buttons makes a sound like an engine running, a siren, etc.
Next we have my rattle and teether collection. You can’t imagine how much fun it is to shake something that makes noise.
Ahhh, it’s Nemo. I like Nemo because he swims (on wheels) around the room and I chase him. He also sings this very annoying song that mommy doesn’t like, over and over, but hey, I love it! The best thing to do is corner him and then knock him over. He lies there flapping his flippers and singing away as if nothing has happened.

These are my newest toys. I like to chew on them. Mommy tries to stand them up and I knock them down.

I really like my cars. They fit inside each other as well as stack on top of each other, and guess what I do to them when they are stacked!!! They also make a lot of noise when banged on the floor.

Here are some pals that mommy saved for me for a long time. I like Roo because he jumps. Just push his head down and watch him jump up, though he usually lands on his nose instead of his feet, poor guy. ( I fell on my nose the other day so I know how much it hurts.) Note from mommy: he actually dove off a chair while I was two feet away from him and landed on his nose. He cut his lip inside but it wasn’t bad.

And here are my cuddle toys. Daddy hates cuddle toys and would get rid of them if he could. Says they are for wimps. Well, so far I like them because they are good for chewing on and you can throw them and they don’t get hurt.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ll try to write about something else soon, when mommy isn’t looking.

Excuses

I’m sure you’re wondering why I have been so slow to post lately, and I have my very good excuses prepared. One, taking care of a baby doesn’t leave you much time to do anything else. Two, being pregnant means you use every spare moment when you are not taking care of the baby to either eat or catch up on sleep (and perhaps take a shower). Three, I’m lazy when it comes to keeping something going long-term.

So those are my excuses, but since I know you won’t buy them and you are hoping for something exciting, well, maybe I can update you on Logan and his new interests.

Logan has become a very big boy. He can crawl finally. He spent the better part of the last 2 months trying to crawl and he would get so frustrated when he couldn’t do it. He would turn to the crawling position only to land on his tummy and he would cry ’cause he didn’t like not being able to move. So I would sit him up and tell him to let it be, but within 5 seconds he would be back on his tummy again. I, for one, am very happy he can crawl now as I don’t have to be constantly picking him up.

He now has 6 teeth and loves to eat. He eats most anything, though lately he is starting to not like certain things. For example, eggs. He always ate them but now will only eat them when done in a certain way or when really hungry.

Due to my pregnancy I found it necessary to begin weaning him as my body couldn’t take the strain of his non-stop nursing. He now only nurses for a short while before his naps and before bed. During the night I give him a bottle of yoghurt and banana slightly watered down to make it flow and he takes that well.

He loves playing with other children. Whenever possible, I let him play with the toddlers in the house. They love him and he loves them, especially the two-year-old girl who has gained his affection somehow. They sit across the table from each other at mealtime and talk in their own baby talk. Even though she can talk enough for us to understand, when she talks with Logan, she resorts to baby talk, probably to make him feel understood. Ha.

Logan also loves to blabber and will spend most of his waking moments making some sort of noise. His favorite after “dada” is “na-na”, meaning food. He asks for it constantly, no matter whether he just ate or not. He will also say it when eating in order to tell me he wants water. Smart boy. Knows what he wants.

Ok, I just took a break to hang some laundry and get a snack. And in case you are wondering, Logan is asleep, or at least I hope he is.
So now comes the point I know you are waiting for, the PICTURES. These are from last month.

Ahhh…I’m clean. Don’t you think I’m cute?

 

Logan and daddy trying to be cool. We were going out for a barbeque dinner and they wanted to look their best. Can you see daddy’s necklace around Logan’s neck? 

 

These clothes make me look so grown up…

 

…but when it comes down to it, I’m still just a baby.

 

What a messy eater!

 

“But mom, it’s fun to eat like this.”

 

The many faces of Logan…



We went to a friend’s house not long ago and their 4 year old had a room full of toys that would be the envy of any child. Logan had a great time checking everything out. But in the end, after trying to convince him to play with this or that, I found a bag of plastic animals that I was sure he would like. Well, it wasn’t the animals he liked but the cardboard on the top of the bag. It doesn’t take much to make a baby happy.



Gaining Inteligence

It’s been awhile since I posted something so I will begin by updating you on Logan. His two teeth that popped out a while ago are almost all the way through, and boy are they sharp. He doesn’t always realize when he bites me while nursing but it sure wakes me up if I am not paying attention. I tell him each time “Don’t bite” and tap his cheek with my finger to reinforce my words, but he looks at me like, “You don’t mean that, do you?” and then laughs. I try so hard to be stern as it does hurt but I can’t help but laugh when he does that, though I try to turn my head away so he doesn’t see. Otherwise when he gets older and knows when he is being naughty he will think I like it.

He is getting very smart. When he wants me he will call “ma” or “mmm”, something to that effect. And for daddy he will clearly say “dadada”. He never mixes the two up. He will also cry when I go out of sight when he wants me. He stretches his arms to be picked up. He also loves to play in his toy basket. I give it to him full and he empties it, tasting each toy in the process.

He has begun “school”. This month I started him on flashcards, picture facts and math dots. He likes reading books with me and will sit and listen when I read him poems. When I make animal noises for him, he looks at me like, “What happened to you?” and smiles real big like it is the funniest thing.

He also likes to watch videos. I don’t let him watch a lot but I think once a day is ok. He only watches 15 to 30 minutes at the most, depending on how interested he is that day. He really likes the Kiddie Viddie series as well as the Baby Einstein series. It is so cute to watch him as he watches a video. The other day I showed him something new, a Winnie the Pooh show and he was all ears for the 10 minutes that it lasted, though he didn’t like it as much as the other videos. I think he likes the other ones better since they are all live as opposed to animation or cartoons. If there are children or animals doing something, so much the better. He will pay attention to that much more.

He is getting cuter by the day. Here he is exploring the balcony. It is very tiny so he can’t go far, but he has fun watching the people and cars go by.

It is monsoon now so it has been cold lately, so when we go out I have to dress him warm. Sounds funny but it does get quite cold here in Bangalore during the monsoon. It was very windy on this particular day so I had him all bundled up. He looks so cute dressed in winter clothes.

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