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TRIED & TESTED: The 6 most recommended toys and play gear for your baby or toddler’s development.

Baby Bunting
Thanks to our brand partner, Baby Bunting

It’s baby sprinkle time and your besties are sorting out the balloon garland, grazing table, flower crowns and pastel cupcakes. 

It’s all overly sweet and all, but pretty Insta photos are not going to help you when it’s 4am and you’ve just crawled back to bed after the third brutal wake-up. Since 3am.

It’s the last day of work before maternity leave and you and the bump are the lucky recipients of a hamper full of useless softies, delicate white outfits that the washing machine won't like, and décor you that doesn't quite match the nursery vibe you're going for.

You feign your best “oh you shouldn’t have!” face, which is easy because THEY REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE. 

If only well-meaning gift-givers had a list of quality items that would do much more than provide aesthetics, but actually help with the baby’s development?

Things that would make life easier for mum by soothing or comforting a cranky bubba, assist with longer sleep or encourage fine motor skills, walking or listening once they grow.

Well, looky here – this just happens to be the guide you have been searching for. 

As a mum of two, these are the baby must-haves I wish I was given from the start, which would have been a lot more practical for mum and bub than wipe warmers (oh, they exist) or teeny tiny clothing they might wear for five minutes (before I have to say goodbye to it and pass it along to the next mum).

(Saying that, home-cooked meals or a weekly cleaner is not on this list, but always very, very welcome!)

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0-6 months

He’s cute, he’s soft but he is so much more useful, Tommee Tippee Grofriend Ollie the Owl   is a rechargeable light and sound sleep aid that will help you and your baby get a good night’s sleep and SAY NO MORE I’M SOLD.

A soft heart-shaped light, soothing sounds and gentle lullabies come from this magic little hoot, helping bub feel reassured as they lull back to sleep. 

During the night, the cry sensor feature listens out for any cries and plays your chosen sound or lullaby to help soothe them back to the land of nod.

It’s tummy time but make it comfy. And fun. 

The Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Activity Gym is really the silver lining to all the baby floor exercise. It has musical sheep, a light up star, a squeaker, rattle and mirror (who’s that clever baby?), all part of an oversized, cushiony mat with multiple textures for sensory development. 

Listen to This Glorious Mess, Little Kids. Post continues below.

Sensory experiences for toddlers and babies help develop skills such as motor skills, language, scientific thinking, and problem solving. If only all learning your child ever did was this enjoyable!

It’s a classic and has been around since before I was a baby and for good reason. Also the Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack is cheap and so cheerful at only $9.95, but is full of grasping, holding, shaking and exploring lessons for your baby.

A little down the track when they are ready to sit they can place the rings on the post, then bat at the wobbly base to make it rock back and forth. This is all so good for hand-eye coordination and introduces them to the concept of size as they learn to sort and stack from the biggest ring to the smallest. 

6-18 months

You stare at your swaddled baby and think they are soooo far off walking around (love that for you!) but in a blink they will be up and about, disappearing in rooms of the house quicker than you can say "get down from there!" 

The Baby Einstein 4-in-1 Mix & Roll Activity Walker is multi-functional and doubles as a busy toddler table, but also grows with your baby – from sitting, standing, dancing and discovering.

Four modes captivate your baby for each stage and lets them practice standing and strolling with push-along music and lights for mobile entertainment.

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So every parent thinks their child is gifted. Make sure they have the tools to capitalise on their skills with a wooden toy like the Baby Einstein Hape Magic Touch Piano  . Mini Mozarts can create thousands of different songs and all with the magic touch technology – there’s no buttons or keys on this beauty.

Giving baby toys that make music allows them to strengthen listening skills as they distinguish different rhythmic patterns and sounds. There’s also a chance to practice colour coordination by matching the colour-coded notes on the sheets to the keys on the piano. Told you – we’re raising a gifted and talented generation over here. 

Put simply, this one is so much fun for a little tacker. The ELC Sand and Water Table has two troughs for sand and water and comes with a rake, spade, boat, scoop, funnels, moulds and wheels to keep them busy outside – bonus part is they are out in the fresh air while they do. So many new textures and sensory stimulation, it’s got it all.

It comes with a waterproof lid (which is also a car track) and the legs come off for easier storage.You will find all these great toys and playgear products at Baby Bunting. 

As expectant parents, we found our big-ticket items at our local Baby Bunting because the huge range of reputable brands meant we could make an informed decision about the pram/cot/car seat we needed, see it for ourselves and tick everything off at the one place. 

To discover more fantastic toys and products head in store or online at babybunting.com. There’s stores Australia wide and for a pregnant mama, this is as easy as shopping gets (although buying online is easier still, which you can do here too!). You’re so welcome.

Feature Image: Instagram

Baby Bunting
Whether you're looking for a specific brand, need expert advice or want a hand fitting your car seat Baby Bunting are there to help. With stores across Australia and the ability to shop online 24/7 Baby Bunting provide parents with the greatest range in prams, car seats, carriers, furniture and much more. Established in Melbourne as a family owned business in 1979, Baby Bunting have been supporting new and expectant parents in the early years of parenthood for over 40 years.
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