Entertainment

Gift guide for baby

Holiday shopping for baby isn't always easy — especially if the tot in question isn't your own. Stumped on what to buy a little guy or gal you know this year? Read on for the ultimate holiday gift guide from TheBump.com and get the lowdown on the best toys to buy baby at any age.

0-3 months

Sassy Me in the Mirror, $15, SassyBaby.com

In those first three months, baby's developing at a pretty rapid rate. Her biggest milestone: learning to hold up her head and take notice of what's around her. Her favorite pastime? Staring at anything that even resembles a face. Pulling Mom's hair or grabbing onto Grandpa's nose is always fun, but prop baby in front of a fun, true-reflection mirror like the Sassy and she'll be entertained for hours.

Lamaze Spin & Explore Garden Gym, $39, Amazon.com

These days, baby spends most of her time on her back, since it's the safest position for newborns until they can sit up on their own (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics). The most exciting part of baby's day? Those 30 minutes of "tummy time," when Mom flips her over to give her neck the chance to work its muscles. That's why baby will get a kick out of this Spin & Explore Garden Gym, which has a comfy lady bug cushion at its center for baby to lie on while she plays on her belly.

"Look, Look!" by Peter Linenthal, $7, BarnesandNoble.com

Baby's vision is still pretty wonky for many weeks after birth, making it hard to focus on anything further than a foot away. Even bright colors are hard for her to take in. That's why baby responds best right now to board books with high-contrast colors and big, engaging graphics, like Peter Linenthal's "Look, Look!"

Sure, it will be a while before baby can understand a real picture book, but in the meantime she'll love staring at the big, fun, black-and-white shapes and hearing the sound of Mom or Dad's voice.

3-6 months

Veggie Crate of Organic Teethers, $30, UndertheNile.com

Ah, the dreaded teething stage: not fun for anyone, least of all baby. Most babes will start sprouting teeth between four and seven months, meaning mom and dad are in for lots of loud wailing and, of course, drooling. This crate of organic veggie teethers is always a crowd pleaser, since it's not only fun for baby to play with the different veggie shapes, but they're also soothing to chew on. Added bonus: They're machine-washable, making it easy for mom and dad to de-slobber them.

Striped Blanket Friend, $18, Giggle.com

Let's face it, every baby needs a lovey. Since blankies are off-limits in baby's crib until month five, this tiny, striped blanket friend is the perfect size for baby to pal around with, day or night. Now that he's developed a Kung Fu grip, baby can drag along his lovey wherever he goes. It also gets mom-friendly bonus points for being organic, machine-washable, easy to toss in a diaper bag, and doubles as an emergency spit-cloth if need be.

Ostheimer Wooden Star Sign Rattle, $25, HoneyBeeToys.com.au

Handheld shakers and rattles are baby's new thing these days, and it's no surprise why. They're the first real toys he can get a hold of, and once he learns he's in control of the noisemaking, he'll do anything to get his hands on something to shake. Plus, a cute gift like this wooden star sign rattle is a great way to put a personalized touch on an old standard.

6-9 months

DwellStudio Plush Block Set, $32, PokkaDots.com

By now baby's mastered the art of grabbing, stacking, and dropping things. And, boy, is that a load of fun. The best way to encourage this kind of play is with toy blocks baby can easily practice her moves on. Going with a nice, plush set over a wooden one will save Mom and Dad's sanity (and their hardwood floors). And because baby's able to tell the difference between textures and can handle stronger colors, she'll love the look and feel of this set from DwellStudio, which comes in bright, contrasting colors and fun patterns and textures.

Tiny Love Toys Follow Me Fred, $25, GrowingTreeToys.com

By month six or seven, baby will most likely have discovered she can crawl on her own, which means she'll be burning rubber every chance she gets. The Follow Me Fred will encourage baby's motion, since baby will want to chase after Fred wherever he roams. The best part? Baby will learn to control Fred herself — with just a light touch, baby can decide where he goes and how fast, if he should play a tune, and whether or not his tail wags.

Baby Activity Bear, $42, Giggle.com

These days, baby's hands are a major source of entertainment (which explains why at least one of them is in her mouth at all times). And she loves crawling around, investigating, and making new discoveries with them. Behold the Baby Activity Bear, complete with tons of brightly colored pockets, each housing a different hidden treasure inside. From a fun squirrel rattle to a super-cute chirping bird, baby will learn which treasure belongs in each pocket and start challenging her recall and matching skills.

9-12 months

Bowling Buddies, $45, Giggle.com

At almost a year, chances are this tot crawls like a champ and may have already taken his first steps. So it's time to kick it up a notch with more engaging playtime activities. Enter the Bowling Buddies from Giggle. This fun beginner's set teaches baby to start hitting targets and taking names. Added bonus: Each plush bowling pin is shaped like a different animal, doubling as the perfect bedtime buddy at night.

Oval Xylophone, $25, PiccoliniOnline.com

What baby doesn't love a good, old-fashioned xylophone? They've been entertaining tots forever. And now that baby's older and his hearing is more developed, he's definitely graduated from the softer sounds of a rattle and is ready to make some real noise. With a xylophone like this one from Piccolini, baby will have a blast rocking out in his nursery and creating his own tunes. (And hey, it's better than banging on Mom's pots and pans.)

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