I think Lovevery is so cool as a subscription service – however, they are American so the exchange rate and shipping costs are ridiculous for Canadians! We always get screwed over that way! Unfortunately, I do not have 120$+ to spend on toys every 2 months and I have yet to find something reasonable/affordable in Canada that offers the same “play kit” packages based on the the different milestones and developmental stages. So I did a mom hack – I made my own “kits” for Maggie that I order every month from, you guessed it… Amazon.
We have been big Amazon people for awhile, but COVID really made our relationship grow since we couldn’t leave the house. Luckily, we got a lot of stuff for Maggie from our registry and at our baby shower, so for the first little bit we didn’t need much.
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And truthfully – babies don’t need much in regards to toys in the first 0-2 months. I also wasn’t organized enough in the first 2 months (I was um.. y’know busy with a new baby) to be thinking about specific toys for Maggie’s development – I knew tummy time was the most important (early on and for some time after, see my post on motor milestones here) and we were lucky enough to be gifted a Baby Einstein play mat which came with some hanging toys and a tummy time pillow, so I used that early on as well as just whatever we had to catch her attention during tummy time (she didn’t last long doing it at that point anyways).
The developmental milestones from 0-3 months are primarily related to tummy time. Pushing arms up, lifting head up, and so on. Closing of the fists and bringing hands to mouth, as well as reaching for toys above them also occurs in this time frame, but I noticed these more at 3 months of age. A key way to play with a 0-2 month old (and beyond) is of course, through interaction with them. So if you don’t have a ton of toys early on – I wouldn’t worry too much. You’re probably doing just fine keeping them entertained and helping them grow on your own (you can check the Pathways.org website for a list of related milestones and what to look out for, as well as talk to your child’s care provider regarding any concerns or questions).
From 3-4 months of age, there was a turning point for Maggie in regards to play. She would hold things before but at 3-4 months she was actively looking to do so, definitely paying more attention to things around her/above her, and so on. At 4 months, babies also start paying more attention to textures and they start to show more interest in musical toys. They also start to roll (between 4-6 months usually) and become more active and engaged during tummy time.
This – to me – is the ideal time to start ‘investing’ in more specific toys (and you don’t need to spend a lot).
Build Your Own 4-6 Month Developmental/Sensory Toy Kit From Amazon
Note: all links in titles are for the Canadian Amazon website however, I’ve included American links too (on your phone it should switch over automatically if the same item is listed). Recommendations are based on my personal experience (as noted) and developmental milestones (see referenced links).
Babies at this age like to…
…explore toys with their hands.
This is actually both a sensory and motor milestone for the 4-6 month age range. Two toys Maggie really enjoyed when she started wanting to explore toys and hold things with two hands (or pass something from one hand to another, also a motor milestone in this age range) were:
Price: 5.35 CAD (5.99 USD)
I’ve recommend this before. Great for promotion of coordination (easy to hold, pass between hands, etc.) and dexterity.
Price: 3.99 CAD (2.88 USD)
This is specifically the one we use – however there are so many different rattles on Amazon, you could explore different options!
(Price: 14.91 CAD/13.34 USD)*not needed unless using to replace other toys
(Note: We didn’t use this one, but it has been recommended to me by multiple people).
Babies love this cube apparently – it has so many things to it that it takes the place of multiple other toys. It has a play mirror, makes different sounds, has different colours and a few different textures.
***I list this item because it’s good if you just want to buy less things – since it covers the role of multiple toys.***
Lovevery has one toy that is a “magical tissue box” with “magical tissues”.
If your baby is anything like mine – they will probably prefer the wipes container. So why not do a DIY and buy some scarves (I bet they also have them at your local dollar store, just saying… if not they are 12.99$ on Amazon*) and place them in an old wipes container for baby to pull out?! Ta-da. Magic.
*US Amazon scarves here, for only 9.95.
… play with musical toys (and sounds of all kinds).
Lovevery has a toy (rolling bell) like this one* in their kit for 3-4 months, however I think it’s kind of pricy online and very similar to a rattle (like the one above with small balls in and moving parts). The rattle above would encourage visual tracking, exploration, and has the added bonus of making noise – all good things when it comes to encouraging your child’s development.
*US Amazon equivalent here, for only 11.95.
I mentioned we have the Baby Einstein play mat* – this was great because it came with the kick piano, some different textured toys (see below), and a mirror (they are great tummy time items to have). I linked the mat, however there is a comparable one by Fisher Price here** (because the Baby Einstein is ridiculously priced on Amazon – however I recently saw it at Toys R Us). It is a great “starter” item (maybe a good registry item?) because it sort of includes a lot of key toys for the early days, plus having a play mat is always nice. The Fisher Price mat is 58.10$, however I linked a much cheaper mat (without kick piano) down below.
*Baby Einstein play mat here for US Amazon.
**Fisher Price play mat here for US Amazon.
… play with toys of different textures.
Soft Books like this one are great for textures.
Price: 9.99 CAD (6.99 USD)
There is the added bonus that this book also has contrast (black/white) so you could purchase it earlier on if you wanted. It sort of “grows” with them too since there are pictures + words in it (and soft books are teething friendly which is great – although I admit my kid has definitely bitten off chunks of cardboard from actual books). BONUS: these books have crinkle pages – so you’re killing to birds with one stone and allowing baby to explore different sounds.
Price: 14.99 CAD (12.74 USD)
Maggie loves the yellow ball the best (apparently this is common because of its resemblance to well.. nipples). In my motor milestones post, Kasha (the pediatric physiotherapist) talked about how great balls are for motor development a bit later down the road (12+ months). These balls can get lots of use then – although they’re small and children progress to larger sizes, they’re textured and help with coordination (baby passes ball between both hands). They are also very mouth friendly, which leads me to…
…they like to put things in their mouth.
And it is actually good for them – it’s part of their sensory development and will help them with feeding/eating solids as well (which starts at the end of this period – 6 months).
Price: 9.99 CAD* (6.98 USD)
This remains one of Maggie’s favourite teether toys – and it has the added bonus of getting babies used to having their gums/teeth brushed. Bonus: Amazon has two for 16.99$ CAD right now.
Price: 9.66 CAD (5.97 USD – equivalent)
(note: you can choose one teether or the other to minimize cost)*
Different shapes, different stages, and you put it in the fridge so it’s cold and soothing if baby is truly teething! For even less money: check these ones out as an add-on item.
I’d say it’s a good idea to try starting with one type of teether to see what kind your baby likes (silicone, wood, Nuby, etc.) – baby may also just like something like a frozen washcloth too and that’s free! I didn’t list a silicone teether here because the ones I have were gifted (Loulou Lollipop so a bit pricy) and Maggie actually prefers the two above.
…look at things and watch them move.
I mentioned earlier that the play mat we got included a mirror – I recommend looking into a play mat since baby play mirrors are oddly expensive? There are cheaper ones but this one has the best ratings on Amazon (it’s much more affordable in the US at only 9.99 USD).
Note: we have tons of mirrors that go all the way to the floor in our house (secured to wall or on doors so safe) – Maggie actually preferred these to any dinky mirror. We just set her up for tummy time in front of it. So if you have mirrors in your house that is one way to save some $$.
Beyond the mirror, we personally just played with Maggie and made toys move for her – her rattle was a big ticket item for us. We also had the Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Rocker (US link) which has a toy bar that baby can play with and move themselves. An activity gym is great for this too, so something like the Baby Einstein mat or, our favourite was a play gym (US equivalent) from Amazon (I’ve linked a similar item as the one I actually purchased is more expensive now). These are a bit more pricy and are not necessary – just nice to have especially if you’re looking for a rocker or play mat/gym anyways.
If you’re looking for something similar to what Lovevery offers (the spinning rainbow) for this purpose try:
Price: 10.31$ CAD (7.99 USD)
Colourful (so entertaining for little eyes) + it spins and moves, great for development of fine motor skills.
Lovevery also has a “wobble toy” for tummy time – I think that any toy that your baby likes is good for tummy time. A good replacement for this would be the Infantino balls as well – since they roll and move, and therefore would also contribute to core strength (though tummy time itself is building core strength so I wouldn’t worry about it too much).
If you want a similar item to what they have in their kit, here is one:
Skip Hop Roll Around Rattle (US) or for more money (but more similarity) Fat Brain Dimpl Wobble Teether (US)
They also have black and white contrast cards in the 3-4 month kit. I found a pack that come on a ring on Amazon for under 20$ CAD (US equivalent is 11.95). That way you don’t need a holder since they’re already on a ring.
If you’re looking to get the mobile too – this one is portable and it’s only 8$ CAD. I actually discovered this seller (Manhattan Toy) has a ton of great developmental toys and other fun stuff available, so check their storefront out here. *12$ USD
… eat their feet/toes (and hands – everything goes in mouth, as I mentioned above).
The 5-6 month kit has socks in it that encourage baby to grab their feet – personally, I never even put regular socks on Maggie and she found her feet okay. However if you’re dead set on something like that (or maybe baby needs some encouragement to hit their motor milestone):
Again, personally didn’t use/need these.
Lovevery also has mittens for the 3-4 month kit – we personally used a teething mitt (different goal, same idea) and it didn’t work well. Maggie hates having anything on her hands or feet (however I have spoken to other people whose babies loved it). Babies will discover their hands and feet even when you don’t put anything on them – however, if you want to use one this is the one we used:
… be read to!
Books are (I believe) also a preference based purchase. When babies are little, it’s nice to buy books you’ll both enjoy – since you’ll be the one reading them and for some of the time – the only one paying any attention.
That being said, it is good to read books that can “teach” baby words they should become familiar with. I fully encourage you to pursue any books that you think you may want to read to baby – because they are all valuable. I listed some of my favourite books for 0-4 months here (and they were the same through to 6 months with only a few additions).
Lovevery also offers a play mat – I love the Baby Einstein one as I’ve mentioned multiple times, however I also found this very simple one for 15$ CAD on Amazon (US)! It’s high contrast, has different sensory parts, and a mirror!
So you can build your own kit for way under 100$ CAD – keep in mind I made suggestions (like play mats and the discovery cube) to replace multiple items; to try DIY projects; to find items locally; or to ‘skip’ items in favour of things you might already have or do. These tips can all save you money making your total cost much less!
One other thing I do is check my local gently used children’s store as they often have toys that haven’t even come out of the package! I also try to shop local where I can – that sometimes means I spend a bit more, but there are many perks to buying locally too (such as quality and customer service).
If you like this type of post – let me know and I can add in other months as we go through them!