I spent the first couple of weeks with our daughter really not knowing what to do as far as play is concerned when it came to our premature daughter. I was told in the NICU the most important thing I could do is read to her, sing to her, and hold her. After a couple of weeks of my wife and I feeling like we had to constantly entertain her and we started to realize she could in fact entertain herself if we let her. Then came her first Christmas and we really got to see what she was interested in.
Our daughter was 20 weeks old at Christmas, nine weeks old adjusted for her premature birth and there are certain milestones she has hit for a three month old. But there are still some zero to three month milestones she hasn’t hit. She just recently started to reach for things, and probably not coincidentally it was when we introduced the piano mat. Mostly, she loves the lights on our Christmas tree.
She received some gifts that are intended for when she gets older, but others we were not sure if she was ready yet. These are the gifts she was most receptive to. So if you are trying to figure out what kind of toys to get for a very new baby, start with these.
Our Daughters Top Five Gifts
5. The Glowing Plush Animal
This was a gift from my wife’s brother and sister-in-law. This toy may not be that impressive to a Dad who has lived a life of sensory overload but this toy makes our daughter smile. It’s pretty simple. My daughter has no idea what a bear is, but she knows this soft bear feels nice and she is fascinated the light glowing from inside. Let it be a reminder that Dad can overthink things.
4. The Carousel of Music and Light
This was a gift from my Dad and Step-Mom. My Step-Mom told me they were just as clueless about what to get a our daughter as well, but they nailed it. Our daughter loves this toy! Obviously she cannot push any of the buttons yet, but she enjoys watching the lights pass by and coos to the tunes for now.
3. The Tummy Time Pillow
This was a gift from my sister who has three kids of her own so she has a pretty good idea about what kids like. So far our daughter only accidently hits the buttons but the pillow itself is a good start for getting our daughter doing push ups and trying to use her hands while she is on her tummy. Before this toy she was using Dad’s belly as her primary source for tummy time fitness.
2. The Lullaby Hippo
This was a gift from my wife’s mom. Despite the horrible photoshop images trying to sell this toy, it is honestly more impressive in real life. Remember those glow in the dark stars that a lot of kids wanted in their rooms in the 90’s? This is the same idea. Thinking back to when we are kids my wife and I knew this toy will spark joy at bedtime for years to come. As a bonus for parents who share the room with baby, there’s a sleep timer that shuts off the lights and music so you don’t have to get out of bed to turn it off.
1. The Kick Piano
This is the gift that my wife picked out for our daughter. Dad approves! I have never seen my daughter get so excited for anything. Being a fan of music (the noise making toys don’t bother me except that I usually think the sound resolution is cheap) I expected the piano part of this toy to be the most exciting thing for our daughter. While she does interact with the piano as intended the biggest surprise was how excited she is to interact with the mobiles dangling from above!
My wife found it used to save money and we replaced the missing hanging plastic animals with stuffed animals on clips. Which actually worked out better because they hang a little lower so our daughter can reach them.
Hopefully these gifts give you a good idea of where to start. As a bonus I have included one more gift idea specific to Christmas. Every year since my wife and I have been together I buy an ornament with the year on it and sometimes an ornament to mark a special occasion such as graduation, our marriage, our first house etc.. Over the years our Christmas tree begins to tell the story of our family, just like my Opa and Oma’s tree did when I was growing up. This particular ornament marking our daughter’s first Christmas came from my Mom. Thanks, Mom!