It can be very tempting to get carried away with buying cute toys for your new baby - I developed a severe Lamaze habit after baby J was born that I've just about managed to kick. Buying too many toys can be dangerous for your bank balance, and there's no need when your baby is too young to exercise pester power in shops!
It's an old adage but the simple toys really are the best, and can be picked up inexpensively (or you can drop a few hints to those who want to buy presents!). Here's a few recommendations that we get out of the toy box every day, all priced under £10:
Stacking cups - babies love to watch you stack these up so they can knock them down, and as they get older will have lots of fun doing this themselves. We got a good set from Ikea, but you can get them from any large supermarket or baby store, usually for less than £5.
Rainmaker rattle - babies are fascinated by the movement and sound of these toys. I discovered at about 12 weeks old that baby J stopped crying if I started shaking it, so that's got to make it worth buying! Can't vouch for this working for everyone, but he now enjoys shaking it himself. Again, you can pick one up from the above mentioned places for under £5.
Jingle ball - this has a bell inside, so it is nice and noisy to entertain babies, and encourages tummy time if you roll it in front of them. When they are older it is easy for them to grasp and shake. The Bright Starts flexi ball is around £3.50 from Amazon or Asda.
Links - sets of plastic links are great for your baby to chew on and the bright colours stimulate their vision. Handy to keep in your changing bag as an emergency toy! You can also use them to attach toys to a playgym or pushchair. These are easy to find in most supermarkets - we have the Bright Starts ones but these East Coast ones also come recommended. Expect to pay around £5 for a set.
Tomy Hide'n'Squeak Eggs - baby J was given these for his first Christmas, and a couple of months after that became fascinated with them. He likes chucking them out of the box and playing with each egg individually - they make cheeping noises when they are pressed which he likes! As your baby gets older they can sort the eggs according to shape and colour. A bargain at around £4.50 from Amazon.
Shape sorter - there are lots of these around, whether you want plastic or prefer wooden toys for your baby. These help with hand/eye co-ordination and fine motor skills. I really like the Ikea shape sorter which is a wooden house, and at £7 it is competitively priced.
Stacking rings - as with the shape sorters, you can buy lots of variations on this toy. Again this is good for co-ordination and also colour recognition. A friend has a lovely wooden magnetic version made by Tidlo, which is a classic that will be used for years and is a bargain at £9.99:
Lamaze toys - I couldn't finish without mentioning these, and nearly every mum I know has at least one! These are great for taking out and about, as they have a link that attaches them to a car seat handle or pushchair bumper bar. They are also great for customising your playgym. Lamaze toys all have bright contrasting colours and patterns, along with different sounds and textures to stimulate your baby's senses. Baby J's favourite has always been Captain Calamari! Around £7.50 from Amazon or baby shops like Mothercare or Kiddicare.
Happy shopping! x