I had a small anxiety attack just thinking about writing this page. One could write a book on baby toys (in fact, I think they have already), so.... I will stick to the most useful basics.
Playmat ~ 0-6 Months
If you have only $50 or $60 to spend on infant entertainment and stimulation, this is where I would spend it.
Newborns and infants love staring up at the different toys and learning how to swat with both hands and feet. Many playmats (or "playgyms") also have music-makers, lights, etc. Yes, this is the most excitement they have all day. Yikes!
Between the bouncy seat and the playmat, you should be able to get a little bit of hands-free time. This is really important for your sanity.
The most highly-rated playmat is the Fisher-Price Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym, but they are all very similar.
I don't know what else to call these - soft, plush, dangly toy thingies? Basically, it's a soft toy that clips onto your car seat or stroller to keep baby entertained while you are out and about. You can also take them off and play with them normally. Something along the lines of this:
Newborns have fairly poor eyesight and their eyes are drawn to high-contrast, symmetrical objects.
For a simple, rudimentary mobile, I recommend the Manhattan Toy Stim-Mobile for $20. Lucie was nuts over this one. Just be sure to take it out at bedtime, as it can be overstimulating. This one is great because you can switch out the cards to keep it fresh and interesting.
Starting at about 5 months (varies), you can start using the KING of all baby toys, which my husband has respectfully dubbed "the Neglecto-saucer".
The Exersaucer is uh-maz-ing. I can now dry my hair AND put on some make-up everyday thanks to the Exersaucer. She loves it, I love it (sigh), everyone's happy (wipes tear from eye).
I highly recommend an Exersaucer made by Evenflo because you can swap out the various toys when they grow bored of them (this is the case with most Evenflo products). Pick your favorite color/theme. Brilliant!
You definitely don't need this right away. For the junk-averse, I recommend getting the Exersaucer at the same time you retire your bouncy seat. Out with the old, in with the new.
Those are the biggies.
Have said all this, though, I will tell you that you don't have to go crazy buying toys. At the end of the day, Lucie's 5 favorite things to play with are:
3. The huge box that her convertible car seat came in
4. An old computer mouse
5. Our dog's leash
Got a toy that you love (and please don't say the damn giraffe)? Send me an email at meg (at) lucieslist.com. Thanks!
And finally... 10. This and That