Every once in awhile I'm asked by other moms to be, or friends and family that are attending baby showers to give them some ideas of items that have worked really well for us that I would recommend. In the past I've drawn a complete blank. This has prompted me to start a list of things that I've found have been invaluable on this journey. Keep in mind that some of these items worked well because my child has some special issues that most kids her age do not share. Also, I fully recognize that what makes each kid unique is that they will not like all the same things. They will not play with all the same toys or enjoy the same activities. That's why much to my dismay, they did not hand me a manual when I left the hospital and took Lexi home with me. Without further ado, I give you, Lexi's top faves, in no particular order:
1) The weighted blanket: This is a must for kids with sensory issues. When Lexi was done with the swaddle there was a good 4 months she would not take naps that were longer than 30 minutes long because she could not get comfortable. She was done with the swaddle but needed that feeling of security. This was perfect, because she could still move around but have the weight on top of her to make her feel secure. I purchased mine from a lady on etsy.
2) Radio Flyer Pack and Go Canopy Wagon: We have an annual pass to the zoo and this is perfect for those trips. The canopy provides shade from the sun and protection from rain. It also comes with a storage backpack that has an insulated pouch to store perishable food and keep beverages cold.
3) Munchkin suction bowls: Because of Lexi's initial fear of food her therapists suggested letting her play in her food. You can imagine that having bowls full of food flying everywhere doesn't really sit well with me. These are great because she still has her food in front of her to touch and experiment with but they seal to her tray so they are less likely to shoot off and onto the floor. Granted, they do still come unsealed with a strong grip, but usually I just keep an eye on them and reseal when necessary. They at least can't be unintentionally bumped off the tray and fortunately Lexi isn't a very aggressive child in her high chair.
4) Nuk Learner Sippy Cup with Silicone Spout: Lexi is not an aggressive drinker and doesn't like to work too hard to get fluid. She also favors softer spouts, so I found this to be the perfect cup for her. I just used a knife to cut the spout hole larger so it was easy for her to draw fluid from and there is no valve to deal with. The handles are removable, and we have already done away with them. I like the lid on the top to protect the spout and I like that it doesn't hold a lot of fluid because she isn't a big drinker. It's also easier for her to hold since it holds smaller volumes.
5) Garanimal Shoes: I'm not a big fan of Wal-Mart, but I like their shoes. They have good soles and a decent arch support and since little feet tend to lose shoes fairly easily, a price tag of $10 isn't bad at all. Lexi's physical therapist suggested that due to her low tone, that it would be best for her to learn to walk with shoes on and that she needed support for her arches. We were originally thinking we would need to pay for inserts but to our surprise, the arches in these shoes were perfect. Inserts would've been $40, so thanks to Wal-Mart we saved a ton of money and will be purchasing all our shoes there for the foreseeable future.
6) Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank: This toy is great for fine motor development. Lexi loves the music too. This was another therapist inspired buy.
7) Target Door Mirror: Seems so simply right? A $5.99 door mirror from Target is probably one of Lexi's all time favorite things. We have two of them in her playroom. For sensory kids, mirrors are awesome for motor planning. One of her favorite things is to watch herself dance in the mirror. It's also helped enormously with her sign language development.
8) Kidco Food Mill: This thing is pretty awesome. If you have a child that is still eating puree consistencies and you want to feed them on the go, you can take this thing anywhere. It is manually operated and requires no batteries or electricity. It will puree and blend any type of food you put in but it's especially good with fruits and veggies. We mainly use it for bananas. The consistency is probably for kids that can tolerate more texture since it won't puree it to a super smooth consistency, but it's also a great step after stage 2 purees to introduce texture before moving onto more gritty textures like mashed potatoes or other blended table foods.
9) Munchkin Inflatable Duck Bathtub: This thing is portable and deflates to a very nice travel size. This is a great transitional tub when you have a new sitter who no longer wants to use an infant tub but isn't super steady sitting on their own. I like the small size so it's quick to fill and easy to drain. The beak makes a quaking noise and it has a white hot spot in the tub so you know when it's too hot for baby. This was the tub that got Lexi comfortable with bath time.
10) Munchkin Bath Toys: Lexi loves playing with these in the bath tub. They also squirt water, but what I've found them most helpful for is for teething. She never put objects in her mouth until she was close to 14 months old. When she did, it was these toys. They are soft and rubbery and the hot pink one on the bottom left is her favorite to bite on because it's the perfect size for little mouths. It has nice thin fins so she doesn't have to open her mouth big to get it in there and when she bites down it's soft enough for her to not be alarming but also enough resistance to feel good.
11) Baby Signing Time Videos: These videos are awesome. In fact Lexi constantly points to the tv and signs "baby" (which is what she refers to as these videos) because she almost always wants to watch them. They teach so many great signs for kids to use to communicate with. The songs are cute and well written and they show lots of kids and toddlers using the signs which Lexi loves. She's really blossomed since we started using sign language. She can now tell me when she's in pain, hungry, wants something (to read a book, use a certain toy, take a bath etc), and we've been able to teach her to sign "please" to ask for things nicely and sign "thank you" for things. It's been wonderful since her speech is a little delayed. She also loves pointing out animals at the zoo and using the signs she knows for them. If she sees something when we're out and about she usually will point and sign to it which is also fun. I know it doesn't completely bridge the gap of communication but it sure helps.
12) Fisher Price Activity Walker: Lexi ADORES her walker. This one is awesome because it moves fairly easily so once they get the hang of stepping there isn't a lot of resistance to hold them back. It's pretty bare bones but it works great and it's really inexpensive! I also like that she can kneel at it and play with the toys on it, although she does get bored with them fairly quickly. She's much more interested in pushing it.
And that's about it. I'm sure as she gets older these will change dramatically, but these are the top on the list for now!