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Activity Mats

A soft, colorful activity mat with detachable overhead arches is the perfect first interactive toy. Soft toys hang from the arch, and the mat has flaps and textures to explore. Look for mat with a variety of features and toys you can remove and take with you - they will become fast favorites. Avoid mats with too much going on - they may be overstimulating and difficult to clean, maintain (multiple battery changes) and store.

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Tiny Love Super Deluxe Gymini Tiny Love Super Deluxe Gymini
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Bouncy Seat

A newborn has three basic waking positions: lying down, being carried or lounging in the bouncy seat. The benefit of a bouncy seat is that your baby can be securely strapped in place while enjoying soothing vibration and/or rattles, lights and music on the activity arch. Need a one-minute shower? Take the bouncy seat in the bathroom -- a universal new mom trick. Want to chat face-to-face while gobbling down a yogurt? Bouncy seat time. Commonly called a "bouncy" seat because the little sling chair attaches to a frame that flexes and bounces. Look for a versatile model with fun play time attachments and vibrating mode for quiet time -- the bright, whimsical styling of these seats may not complement your decor, but will provide countless hours of enjoyment and serenity for you and your baby. 

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Fisher Price Rain Forest Bouncer Fisher Price Rain Forest Bouncer
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Stationary Activity Saucer

A support seat in the middle of a circle of toys, the stationary saucer is an early introduction to standing -- and a safer alternative to the hazardous "walkers" we enjoyed as babies. Your baby is ready for the activity saucer when neck muscles are strong and stable and little legs start reaching for the floor -- often around four months or so. Place a rolled up swaddle blanket in front of your baby for extra support and let the fun and exploration begin.

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Evenflo ExerSaucer SmartSteps ABC Evenflo ExerSaucer SmartSteps ABC
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Infant Support Seat

An infant support seat -- a molded piece of heavy duty foam rubber -- is a good "trainer" seat as your baby shows interest in sitting upright but still needs support. The downside is that it restricts mobility and has a limited period of usefulness. Borrow before buying if you can -- some babies get the hang of sitting pretty quickly. The tray accessory is not worth the extra money and can be purchased as an add on, if at all.

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Bright Ideas Bumbo Bright Ideas Bumbo
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Rattle Toys

Stuffed creatures with crinkly, rattling, chewy appendages make great independent and interactive toys. Expect rattles and rattle toys as gifts, but choose one yourself that you will enjoy animating (think funny voices and silly super powers).

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Lamaze Freddie the Firefly Lamaze Freddie the Firefly
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Soft Mirror

A simple soft mirror provides great stimulation for floor play and tummy time. And anyone that cute should have a mirror handy at all times.

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Sassy Me in the Mirror Crib Toy Sassy Me in the Mirror Crib Toy
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Other Infant Toys

In the early months, you will be your baby's favorite pastime -- the person who feeds, changes, soothes and comforts. Before you know it, however, your baby will be seeking additional stimulation, so have some tried-and-true toys on hand. Every loose part will end up in your baby's mouth, so be thoughtful in your selections.

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Sassy Baby Toy Gift Set (12-14 pieces) Sassy Baby Toy Gift Set (12-14 pieces)
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Developmental Videos

Developmental videos spark debate among child development experts. However, most new parents agree that a brief respite is crucial to maintaining your sanity as well as personal health and hygiene. And today's "baby" videos feature sophisticated music and imagery many of us weren't introduced to until junior high (think Mozart and Monet). If you are conflicted, consult with your pediatrician. 

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Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart-Music Festival Baby Einstein: Baby Mozart-Music Festival
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Small Board Books

There is a reason babies aren't issued library cards. Prepare for your baby's books to be ripped, chewed, drooled on and worse. Board books are more durable (and edible) than other books, and smaller ones make it easy for you and your baby to snuggle and flip through together. In the early months, reach for books with simple, clear illustrations and rhyming phrases that you will enjoy reading over and over again with feeling. With too many great ones to name, here are some nm favorites.

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Goodnight Moon Goodnight Moon
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Outdoor Blanket

If your baby will be playing in the park or at the beach, an easy-to-tote ground cover will come in handy and attract a lot of friends.

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JJ Cole Essentials Blanket JJ Cole Essentials Blanket
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