Christmas wishlist for baby

This is my entry to be considered to be part of the Toy Toad Tester Team run by The Toadstool. As you have probably gathered from the blog I love to support Great British products and services (from handmade artists to bigger companies and bloggers through Friday finds) and I believe that The Toadstool fits well with my blog values. The Toadstool, is an online toy shop selling high quality, beautifully designed, ecologically friendly toys that are both educational and truly special. These are all the qualities I look for in toys for my baby. Yes she has a few plastic toys that require batteries but my preference is for wood over plastic every time. I love toys that look beautiful enough to be displayed when they are not in use (rather than hidden in a toy box) and I am a lover of bright colours. My little girl is 8 months this Christmas so my wishlist is a mixture of toys that she will love now and some that she will appreciate over the next 12 month (as there are only so many toys that an 8 month old needs).

toadstool-wishlist11. Haba discovery puzzle stable of Bethlehem. I think wooden jigsaw puzzles are an essential in every toy box. My baby will be getting a few but this is no ordinary wooden puzzle. This nativity one would make the perfect addition to our advent box so that we could use it to share the Christmas story with our little girl for many years to come. I also love the Haba first nativity set too.

2. Haba wooden clutching toy pixie. Clutching toys are just perfect for my baby right now and I love this beautiful and colourful one from Haba. It includes a bell which I know she will adore.

3. Haba Big Sound Workshop. I’ve been taking baby to a music class for the last 3 months and she has loved it. I’d love to get her a set just like this to use at home. The toy says it is for 2+ but we have been using similar instruments in our class (as well as full size triangles and symbols) so I know that under supervision she would love most of these instruments already.

4. Wonderworld Rainbow Sound Blocks. I’ve seen these blocks around the internet quiet a bit and they were already on my wishlist for baby. I can see hours of fun being had building, listening to the different sounds, looking through the coloured blocks and generally exploring them.

5. Reversible Snow White puppet by Lilliputiens. You all know how much I love children’s books so it will come as no surprise that a couple of toys that will help books to be truly magical made it to my wishlist. I can’t wait to share fairy tales with my little girl and this adorable puppet will really help make them truly magical. It’s suitable from 9 months so I’m sure she will adore it as a doll straight away but I can see it being loved for many years to come as she uses it in creative play and to act out the story, snow white.

toadstool-wishlist26. Lolliputiens wolf hand puppet with 3 little pigs finger puppets and their houses. Another great puppet based toy to help bring the magic of books alive for young children.  Again I can see this toy being used in many different ways to engage my daughter with learning through play for many years to come.

7. Haba my first ball track. Another great wooden toy from Haba. This one is suitable from 12 months and helps toddlers improve their motor skills, logical thinking and problem solving skills, all without realising.

8. Haba building blocks sevilla. Every toddler needs a set of building blocks but this set of blocks is unique. They are colourful, uniquely shaped, textured and some include sounds. Perfect on their own or combined with a more basic set of wooden blocks.

9. Janod Musical Spinning Top Carousel. I’ve been on the look out for a spinning top like I had as a child for baby and this one is just perfect. I’m sure she would love watching the colours spin round and round.

10. Haba large playset at the zoo. I love playsets for allowing little ones to play imaginatively. This beautiful one from Haba willl help my daughter learn about animals as she plays freely with it. It also includes a booklet with ideas for fun games for toddlers to play with it in a more structured way. I love that the zoo building is also the storage container for keeping all the parts together and also for easy transport which is idea for us when we are visiting family.

You can also find my wishlist on pinterest too.

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Baby play – 0-4 months

Baby playFor the first 6-8 weeks most of my baby’s awake time was spent taking care of her needs such as feeding and changing. There was very little awake time. Baby play during this period consisted of talking to her during changes and baths and showing her the odd toy that she had no interest in. She wasn’t fussed about the toys on her play mat or over her bouncy chair until at least 8 weeks, possibly a bit later. I took her out to various baby groups but these were more for my benefit than hers. Once she started to have more awake time, like all the other first time mums I have met, I wondered what to do with her. So this post is to share the things that my baby has enjoyed during her first 4 months. I am no child development expert so I do not claim that these are the best toys or activities for babies. Also remember that all babies are different and what one likes another may not enjoy so much.

babyplay1Bouncy chair & play mat – we love our bouncy chair and play mat. My little girl happily plays with the toys hanging above her head for at least 20 minutes. She smiles away and “talks” to them as she hits them. She grabs the butterflies and stares at them like she is taking in all the details. We have this mamas & papas bouncy chair but in the previous design. We love the design and colours of our one plus it looks so comfy (even when she was tiny due to the newborn insert) and the vibrate and music are a nice addition. This is the play gym we have. We like it as it is bright and colourful, compact compared to many play gyms on the market but big enough for its purpose. The only negative is that the butterflies and parrot are attached by velcro, which is nice for allowing them to be interchanged but our baby is now able to pull them off.

IMG_6091Tummy time mat – we all know how important tummy time is but you don’t need any fancy toys. However we were given this one which my baby loves. She is happier on her tummy for a lot longer than when I simply put her on her tummy on a mat. This is the newer version of this mat.

Car seat/pram toys – we have the Lamaze firefly shown in the top photo (it seems like every other baby does too!). Again my baby seems to really like it. It has a black and white side and a very colourful front. There are lots of textures, it has a bell inside and a squeaky bit. It also makes the crinkling sound that babies seem to love. We always know when she is asleep in the car as the crinkling sound stops.

IMG_6108Baby links – these are a more recent addition. They are great for little hands to practice grasping and also nice to chew on.

IMG_6097Homemade rattles – this is proof you don’t need to spend a fortune on baby toys. This is an empty water bottle with dried chickpeas. You can vary the sound it makes by changing the speed that you shake the bottle (or the angle that you tilt the bottle to). An important safety note here, although the top is screwed on tight I would never leave my baby unattended with this toy.

Bubbles – another cheap idea picked up from a baby class. The ones I bought blow lots of bubbles at once and my little girl loves to watch them floating around, you can really see her tracking them with her gaze. The only thing I watch out for is that they don’t land on her face, especially her eyes.

Books – both myself and my husband love books & we want to share this with our daughter. We have a few board books and a few picture books at the moment but I know we will keep adding to this. At the moment she will happily sit & listen to a story & look at the pictures. I have been sharing some of these books with you on the blog and will continue to do so (you can find them here).

IMG_5011Nursery rhyme and action songs – I’m a terrible singer but my little girl doesn’t seem to think so. She loves me singing to her and especially when we do the actions together. In the early days singing to her distracted her when she didn’t enjoy getting dressed or having her nappy changed. I had forgotten many of the nursery rhymes so I purchased an inexpensive nursery rhyme CD (£2.50 on sale in the early learning center) & also this beautifully illustrated book (that I reviewed here). I also try to take her along to one of the free rhyme time sessions at our local library most weeks.

Baby yoga – we started baby yoga at 6 weeks and I’ve really enjoyed it. It is a nice mix of exercises for mums and babies with a couple of action songs. There is also a short relaxation at the end but this is never all that relaxing as at least half the babies at crying. I’ve always fed my baby at this point as she has her best naps after a yoga class (usually 3 hours). I regularly do the baby massage and exercises at home with my baby as well. We also learnt a number of different ways to do tummy time which can be useful if your baby doesn’t enjoy being on their tummy.

Disclosure – this is not a sponsored post. All these items were either purchased by us or given to us by family or friends. I just like them so much I wanted to share them with you all.

UK handmade spotlight – Little woodlanders

Little woodlanders is an etsy shop selling handmade wooden toys. Their wooden toys can be used in multiple ways and are designed to encourage children to use their imagination. Each toy is beautifully hand crafted from wood. Some are left natural and other are painted using non-toxic paints. Although these toys look more like pieces of art we are sure they will engage children in hours of creative play.

UK handmade spotlight – Cupcakes for Clara

Clara is a cheeky, often grumpy little red head who likes to be the center of attention. She is the first whimsical creation from illustrator (and puppet maker) Laura Clempson. Following the success of Clara, Laura has gone on to create Clara’s Twin Macy and their next door neighbour Colin (much to Clara’s dislike!). Laura produces a range of paper dolls, stationary, sewing kits and toys based around these characters. They are available to buy on etsy and not on the high street as well as in a few select stores. Find out more on her website Cupcakes for Clara.

We love Laura’s illustration style and all the current characters. The paper dolls are sure to inspire your little ones and result in hours of creative play. The sewing kits are very cute too and would make a great gift for a creative child. Laura has big plans to build up her business including to create a children’s book based on Clara & Macy. We wish you all the best with this Laura and would love to see a Clara and Macy book!

UK handmade spotlight – Colour me fun

Colour me fun are a small family business that make hand-poured, non-toxic crayons, here in the UK. They offer a wide range of designs including the ones shown here and many more. Whats more if you can’t find what you had in mind they do custom orders. You can buy sets in a wide range of sizes from individual crayons up to a complete alphabet of crayons (you can buy smaller sets of letters to spell out your child’s name too). All sets come in their own small draw string bag to keep them together. They even sell multiple sets (at a discounted rate to buying them individually) perfect for party bags.  We love all the designs but our favorites have to be the lego men and the alphabet crayons. Colour me fun crayons can be purchased from their etsy or folksy shop or from their own website.

London 2012 – Handmade

This summer has seen a lot of focus on London and as such there are a lot of london/Union Jack/olympic themed items available for all the family. Ahead of the opening ceromony of the olympics on friday, today we are sharing with you some of our favorites London themed items that have been handmade in the UK and are available for you to buy.

Clockwise from top left:

London skyline jug, Cecily Vessey via Folksy (Small £14, Large £28)

London town knitted cushion, £30, Her indoors via folksy

Handmade London print lampshade, £25, Clementine & Bloom via folksy

Organic London Baby Blanket, £28, RWScissors2010 via Etsy

Clockwise from top left:

Union Jack print children’s oil cloth apron, £10 Dagenais designs via etsy

London plush dolls, £14 each, Fat Hen and Flo via Folksy (policeman, London guardsman)

Union Jack, Team GB sock monsters £4.99 each, Artdp, via etsy (female, male)

Clockwise from top left:

Children’s t-shirt, ‘hero bugs’ ….. the next Victoria Pendleton, British gold medalist cycling, £8.99, Illustration garden via etsy (available in various sizes and colours and can by changed to Chris Hoy for a boy)

London calling Bunting, £6.50, Oscar black cat via Folksy

Union Jack and London Cushion, £15, Your country home via Folksy

London map print, £15, Love on the hill via etsy

Vintage London red bus Iphone 4/4s cover, £10, Mad moo creations via folksy

UK handmade spotlight – The crafty button

The crafty button sells handmade felt booties, plushies, cushions, play food and more for the little ones in your life. The designer is Marci Hunter based in Northern Ireland. She designs and hand makes all her items and is frequently adding new designs. Baby booties are mostly priced at £10 and are available in 6 sizes (from premature to 18-24 months). A small selection of some of our favorites are shown below but please visit her etsy shop and or facebook page to see many more beautiful and colourful goodies.