We did not want a playpen. We did not want to just be able to stick her somewhere We did not want a swing. We read about her potentially needing the swinging/vibration motion to sleep. We did need somewhere to put her safely for bathroom breaks, heat up food, etc. We remembered seeing the nuna at Ready Set Baby (RSB), so we Googled the reviews and mentioned to Kenzie's Uncle Theth that we were considering it. Then her Uncle Theth buried himself in research and decided it was a good buy, so bought it for her before we could! We picked it up at RSB on our next trip in. It is sort of a swing. It is not motorized. You gently push it and it glides back and forth for up to 2 minutes. That's a positive in my book as I have to keep pushing it, which means paying attention to her, for it to keep gliding. Most swings are rated for up to 35 pounds. The nuna is rated for up to 130 pounds! Every baby is different and we worried that Kenzie wouldn't like a swing. With the nuna, even if she didn't like it now, she might a week, month, or year from now. Heck, I can sit in it, haha. Photo below Kenzie on 4/07/14. Yes, she would fall asleep with her jazz hands sticking out.
Kenzie first started out doing tummy time on a yoga mat or our living room rug. Photo below Kenzie on 4/17/14.
We were gifted with a Luv U Zoo musical mirror activity gym from hubby's youngest brother. This was great! Kenzie really hated tummy time for quite a while. This gift allowed me to lay her down for short periods when she was not in the nuna mood. She loved looking at herself in the mirror and favored the purple rhino. She learned pretty quick to grab the orange thing under the mirror for it to play music. She would coo-sing right back at it. She also learned pretty quick to attack the rhino and it would come off. At almost 7 months, we still have this on the living room floor as she'll sit in the middle while pulling on the mat or its tags to chew on. Photo below Kenzie on 5/12/14.
I work from home at any break I get between taking care of everyone. Trying to work from the old, slow, small laptop just isn't effective sometimes. It makes work tasks take significantly longer than at my desktop with dual monitors; however, with Kenzie falling asleep on me while/after nursing I spend a lot of time using it. When she's awake she needs my attention, so finding more ways for her to entertain herself (which largely comes just with her aging) so I can work from my desktop or when work needs something right away is important. At a moment of weakness I complained to hubby and he went to Wal-Mart and bought an exersaucer. His selection was very limited, so if you want one I'd say check more places or online. I wanted a walker for her because she just wants to be mobile, like I had, but they are banned in Canada. I also had a Jolly Jumper and we tossed around that idea, but it is only useable from when she can sit up on her own to when she can walk (or is it stand?). There are a lot of safety concerns with it. For us, it is our dog potentially running by and knocking her into the door frame. He is good with her when it comes to her pulling and climbing on him, but as soon as something sparks his interest he will barrel her over. The exersaucer hubby bought is for 3 stages. It comes with a playmat like we already have for stage 1, stage 2 is the round exersaucer, and stage 3 you can change it to where it's like a table playstation. I don't know that I would recommend one from our experience so far. I regret the expensive, big hunk of plastic purchase, but again every baby is different and what value do you put on 5 minutes of freedom? There is an overwhelming amount of objects on it and many make noises if you put batteries in them. We decided to remove most of them so she would only have one noise maker and maybe one other removable object. We would periodically rotate out the objects in an attempt at keeping her interested. If we caught her in the right mood, she would maybe play in it 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, she would get rather upset. Kenzie is pulling herself up to stand using everything right now, so we are going to change it to the table playstation and see how that goes. In its current setup for stage 2 it rotates when you touch it so it is not good to have around for her to pull up on. We will see if it is more solid in stage 3 and I will try to remember to update this later. Photo below Kenzie on 8/01/14 right after hubby put it together and before we removed some of the objects.
We had hardwood in our former rental and have hardwood in our new house. We bought a foam play mat to replace the yoga mat for tummy and playtime. As Kenzie got more mobile, she would pull up the connectors that sort of resemble Micky Mouse ears. She loves to chew on them. Maybe meeting Micky Mouse right now would not be a good idea ... ? The older she gets the more of the mat she pulls up. Somedays, if I don't put the pieces back periodically, she disassembles half the mat! We like to call her Ragnarok the 3rd (1st being the original, 2nd being our cat Rocco). We also bought a couple long mirrors. Her bedroom and my office are not setup right now, but they will go in those rooms later. Right now, the living room is our playroom and my office. The mirror is up against our entertainment unit and her play mat. A mirror is definitely a must have. She has enjoyed watching herself and everyone in it since we bought it. If you don't have carpet, a play mat is recommended to help cushion head bonking (although you can only control that for a limited time). They are good registry items and if you don't get them, buy them early, imho. Kenzie below on 8/24/14 playing with her mat. You can see her mirror is in desperate need of cleaning ...
Photo below Kenzie on 10/02/14 after destroying part of the mat. Who me?
Kenzie started doing the military crawl on 8/16/14. This has opened up a whole new world for her and ways for her to entertain herself. We are still trying to keep the toys to a minimum. At least to keep the toys she has available to her to a minimum and rotate them out. The fewer choices she has, the less overwhelmed she gets and rotating helps her always have something new to discover. She will play with the new items longer. I have placed items around the living room at her level. Her play area is always evolving as she gets older and as we get more settled in to our new house. I need to reduce the items for her to discover. We have been adding new ones, but not removing old ones so that we can rotate them. The following photos are on 9/26/14. In the photo below, you see hard to destroy books on the lower shelf of the entertainment unit to the right, more objects on the opposite side, a basket with 4 soft blocks that crinkle when squeezed or jingle when shook and a large wooden spoon.
In the photo below, the item I want to point out is the half exercise ball. It is very hard to move so it is great for her to stand up on. She really loves this. She tries to climb on it and rolls off or will just stand there and smack it with her hands. We make sure to have it on a plush rug or foam mat so if she does take a spill she won't hurt herself as much.
The exercise balls of course were not intended for her, but you will find that many household items you have will offer a lot of entertainment and save you the expense of buying specialty toys. Kenzie plays with leather belts, silicone spatulas, the door stops (she loves the boing oing oing sound it makes when she flicks it), tags (I now see why people make baby blankets with "tags"), etc. Find items with different textures and materials, but always consider the safety of it. We are proofing the house as we go. What might not be a problem one day, like the sockets, could be the next day. Babies pull on everything, climb on everything, and put everything (EVERYTHING) in their mouth, so cleanliness, no clutter, and bolting items down (TV, bookshelves, dressers, etc) is important.
Some other items we've purchased or received:
- Sophie the giraffe - recommend - Great as a toy and teether and apparently there's a bunch of other products I wish I had known about. We bought the teether around 6.5 months, but would recommend it at the start as it's smaller for your baby's wee hands. Kenzie didn't really start playing with big Sophie until later as it was hard for her to hold and chew on. The only thing I don't like about Sophie is the squeaker. We don't squeak it and neither does Kenzie, thankfully, as the dog goes bonkers. Also, the hole for the squeaker means water easily gets inside. You'll want to cover the hole and try really hard not to get water inside. If you do, do what you can to get it out as it will get gross.
- Long, baby safe teething necklace - recommend - Kenzie rarely sits still even while breastfeeding. This gives her something besides your hair or boob to pinch, pull, and chew on. They are stylish and would make a good gift for grandma or other caregivers. You always have a toy on hand when you go out. I like to give her something to play with while diaper changing especially when it is poop to help keep her hands out of it. There are many suppliers out there and even on Etsy. Munchables was recommended on a post I saw on Facebook. Chewbeads are carried at RSB. I haven't purchased one yet as I'm contemplating making my own. What I'm currently wearing (solid rose quartz heart shaped pendant on a long rope which was a gift from my Mom) is what made me realize how nice an actual teething necklace would be.
- "Diaper" bag - recommend - we live about 45 minutes from the city, so when we go to the city we want to make sure we have plenty of supplies. We always take 1-2 changes of clothes and way more diapers than we ever need. Plus a toy or two, wipes, lotion, water bottle. We don't carry it in to most stores with us, but like to have an abundance of supplies if needed. You never know when a blowout will occur or baby just has to pee every 5 minutes. Bags come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and prices. We got, I think, a big one and I made sure hubby wouldn't be embarrassed to carry it since I usually carry Kenzie and he helps by carrying the bag when we need it.
- Moby-style wrap - recommend - We purchased an actual Moby wrap and a locally made wrap that is like the Moby. I like both, but I'd probably go with just the one locally made. I liked that it was more stretchy. The Moby I'd frequently tie it on too tightly. Also, I looked on YouTube about front carrying her facing outwards. I know it's not designed for that or recommended, but for short periods and my own sanity I needed to do it. Kenzie decided very early on that she wanted to be able to see everything. She wanted to be held, but didn't want to be snuggled up to you. Once she was big enough for the Ergo we switched to that.
- Ergobaby-style carrier - recommend - We received the original Ergobaby as a gift without the newborn insert. I solely use this one now and mostly in the back carry which allows Kenzie to see a lot more. It is also helpful when she's being fussy or just wants to be held. I can still cook with her in the back carry. She sometimes falls asleep in it so we attach the hood so her head doesn't loll about. Then there's a 50/50 chance I can lay back in bed and take it off and she'll stay asleep for a bit. It's funny seeing her sprawled out asleep. YouTube has suggestions on rigging it to work for a newborn if you don't have the insert. We intended to buy the babyTrekker had we not received this as a gift. I would recommend you do your research and get one that safely allows forward facing in the front carry. You want to be mindful of carriers that don't support the hips which can cause hip dysplasia. The babyTrekker does and Ergobaby now has the 360 which does. We didn't have the means to buy and try out other carriers. Thankfully, the ones we got worked well enough. Many people recommend a Mei Tei-style carrier. I don't know if this would replace the Moby or Ergo or just be in addition to the arsenal of baby products you have.
- Nursing pillow - recommend - We bought the original Boppy which is floppy. It worked for us especially as Kenzie got bigger, but a more structured one would have been nice particularly in the beginning while you're recovering and learning to breastfeed. Hubby would use it, too, to cuddle with Kenzie.
- Walking Wings - don't recommend - At least for us, so far it hasn't been helpful. Kenzie just fixates on the straps and trying to chew/play with them instead of standing/walking. It also seems to cut off circulation in her arms. We try to put it on snugly so it doesn't ride up to her armpits, but we also don't want to suffocate her. It seemed like a great idea particularly helping prevent the back aches from bending over, but it just didn't work for us.
- Baltic amber jewelry - recommend - Friends and strangers swear by it. I can't say 100% as I don't want to take it off to test it. Kenzie has been wearing the necklace 24/7 since maybe a couple weeks old? I wear a matching one in case it helps my headaches any and because I like to be matchy patchy with her while she's young and has no choice, haha. She has, overall, been very calm and even tempered aside from never sitting still. She is a very happy baby. When she's upset she needs something: diaper change, cuddles, boob, sleep.
- PeaPod Plus - undecided - We bought this instead of a playpen. We have found it not useful so far and haven't regretted not having a playpen. The PeaPod at least is still good for a couple years, so maybe it will get some use out of it later.