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As a pelvic floor physical therapist and a pediatric physical therapist (who are also both moms), Leah from @theptparent and myself know a thing or two about moms and babies. Which is why we have teamed up this year to create our 2023 New Mom & Baby Gift Guide. Leah from is one of my FAVORITE accounts on Instagram for all things baby motor development and play – so I know you are in good hands with her play picks. I am tackling recovery and self-care for the new mom, and Leah is tackling age and developmentally appropriate toys for ages 0-3 months, 4-7 months and 8-11 months. When you are done looking over this guide, hop on over to theptparent.com or follow her on Instagram for some fun and effective play and motor skill ideas!
In this blog:
Everyone talks about the difficulties of nursing, sleeping, crying, feeding, but nobody talks about the potential itchy, burning and overall discomfort in your vulva postpartum. Immediately postpartum your estrogen levels drop which causes vaginal dryness – and this vulva balm is a LIFESAVER. It helps to naturally hydrate your vulvar tissue. Every female in general should have this.
If she is nursing, this Haaka pump is a must. Depending on how intense you make the suction you can either use it to simply collect extra milk during a letdown or completely pump one side while nursing on the other. It is super helpful for those who don’t enjoy being hooked up to a machine.
Babywearing is truly one of the sweetest gifts of motherhood and often one of the only ways I could get things done around the house or calm down my fussy little one. The SollyBaby wraps have the cutest patterns, and with a little practice they are easy to wear.
Whether she is nursing or not, her breast size will fluctuate and a stretchy bra is a must. This one has 5 hooks for extended back closure, front clips for easy nursing access and is stretchy enough to avoid any compression. You really can’t go wrong with any of the Bodily Bra.s
This postpartum gift set has everything she needs for recovery. It comes with Body Butter lotion, Scalp Serum to combat hair loss, a Recovery Tonic, an Energy Tonic and a Nipple Balm. Take care of her from head to toe!
Up to 60% of the human body is made of water and nearly 87% of breastmilk is made of water. It goes without saying – she’ll need to stay on top of her water intake to assist with her recovery and nursing (if she chooses to do so).
Protein is essential for recovery to repair and rebuild your muscles as well as improve your energy levels when they’re at an all time low. Registered dietitians recommend consuming anywhere from 0.7-1.2g of protein per 1lb of ideal body weight which is HARD to do even when not early postpartum. Throw this protein powder into a smoothie to help meet those goals.
Buy her these to mix into her water once per day to help keep her hydrated during a depleting time when she might not be meeting all of her nutritional needs with meals. The lime is my favorite.
From stretchy underwear to cooling liners – her vulva will THANK YOU. This is one of my most recommended products to my postpartum patients because your vulva needs some love after vaginal delivery. They make a cesarean specific kit as well!
Another thing nobody talks about is gut health postpartum. Gut health is affected by things like stress, poor diet and sleep deprivation – all of which occur with a newborn. I personally believe everyone should take a probiotic whether you have had a baby or not!
This is Skin Pharm’s latest product and I LOVE how they are reusable for up to 10 uses. They are great for reducing puffiness and reviving tired eyes – which are unavoidable postpartum. Pro tip: store them in the fridge for an extra cooling effect.
Becoming a new mom comes with a lot of stuff, and sometimes the diaper bag is full or you just need a bag to throw things in as you head out the door. This is my favorite “catch-all” bag that actually looks good too.
Skin to skin is one of the most important parts of caring for your new baby and wearing a robe makes it that much easier. I found this one at Target in preparation for my own postpartum journey and I love how it is soft and doesn’t shed. A win-win.
Sheets might seem like a weird gift to give someone, but let’s be real, nobody likes to spend money on good, quality sheets – which is why it is the perfect gift! Every new mom will be spending a lot of time in bed recovering, feeding and just cuddling with her baby, so why not spoil her with a fresh new set of sheets. I have these myself!
If my husband is reading this – here’s your hint for my Christmas gift this year, ha! I’ve always wanted an initial necklace, but personally do not like when the charms collect and dangle at the bottom of the necklace. With this initial necklace, the letters are built right into the chain so they won’t move or spin.
Slippers were an absolute must for me postpartum because of all the time I spent in the house. There is no better feeling than slipping on your cozy robe and slippers after a warm shower postpartum. Give her feet some love!
A splurge item for sure, but every new mom is worthy of this incredibly soft blanket! When we sent Ava off for her first day of daycare we splurged on the baby version of this blanket because we felt so guilty leaving her. It was 1000% worth it. Even after MANY washes it is still as soft as ever.
One of my best friend’s got this for me after I had Ava and I swear it works like a charm. Tell her to keep it in the fridge and use it right in the morning after a long night changing diapers and feeding babies.
If she isn’t into the initial necklace or you know she will have more little ones on the way, you might consider this “mama” necklace. This is a necklace she will keep and cherish forever, so it’s worth the splurge.
This is the exact lounge set I lived in during pregnancy and postpartum when I wasn’t in my robe. The material is soft and not scratchy, and the waistband is stretchy enough to accommodate all of the belly sizes of pregnancy and postpartum.
1. Lovevery Play Gym
Both of my girls have played with this play gym and it’s beautiful. You can easily take down and store the “gym” when needed and just use the mat only. The mat has different sections for play with textures and tags which help keep baby entertained. It comes with several hanging toys and contrast cards. I can’t recommend this enough!
2. Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother
We called this toy “baby TV” at my house lol because it’s a magical, soothing lights and music toy (kind of shaped like a mini tv) that really helps keep baby engaged in tummy time, and just floor time in general!
3. Baby Einstein Tummy Time Mirror
My girls loved looking at not only themselves in this mirror but also the adorable little caterpillar guy! He always got big smiles from them! This mirror is soft and foldable, but sturdy when propped open. It also comes with contrast cards.
4. “The Looker” Playkit
I have really loved all of the playkits my girls have from lovevery, but I am especially fond of their younger baby kits. The looker playkit is made for babies 0-12 weeks old and it was something that Charlotte played with almost exclusively from 0-2 months old. The next playkit after this 0-12 week one is “The Charmer” playkit (for 3-4 month olds) and several of the toys in that kit were also some of my girls top faves (the soft book in the Charmer kit is 10/10). I highly recommend both!
5. Lamaze Octopus
We keep this guy in the carseat and it always keeps my girls entertained. We also have the dragonfly I’ll link here, and he is loved but not nearly as much as the octopus. His legs are irresistable for touching and sometimes tasting lol.
6. Fisher Price Kick and Play Piano Mat
This is a GOAT (greatest of all time) baby toy. I rotated between this and the lovevery playgym A LOT during the first few months with both of my girls. Parents beware… the songs are incredibly catchy and you WILL get them stuck in your head lol you have been warned.
7. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle
I love this soft rattle that’s easy for baby to grip and mouth when they’re first learning how to use their hands to grab things!
8. Infantino Tummy Time Pillow
I love that this tummy time pillow has multiple uses, from tummy time to supported sitting as baby grows. I think it is less bulky than a boppy for tummy time, making it better for younger babies.
9. Soft Contrast Book
Soft books are perfect for young babies! They can safely explore with hands and mouth and make for great tummy time entertainment tools.
10. Baby Paper
Your baby will be starting to explore sensations more as they approach 3 months and this baby paper is fun for them to explore and crinkle!
11. Drive n Drool Keys
Babies love keys… and they can safely play with these! Perfect size for baby to grip, shake and explore.
I love rainstick toys for babies! It’s gentle visual and auditory stimulation along with cause and effect. I also love that it can be rolled on the floor during tummy time. Any toy that can roll or move is perfect for this age as we are trying to encourage movement during floor time (rolling and/or crawling!
2. O-ball car
Another great toy to encourage movement, I love that the O-ball part of the car is easy for baby to grasp and manipulate. The car is also something that can grow with your child.
This toy was always a HOT commodity at the clinic. Babies (and toddlers) love this toy! It’s great to ecourage reaching to spin the wheel. The size of it is also perfect for sitting practice. It is a little taller, it’s great to place between the baby’s legs and sit because they can use the toy as a cue to stay upright.
4. Spill + Stuff Taco
I recently ordered this for Willow, who will be 6 months old in December. This little taco is so cute! The “filling” is great for baby to practice pulling stuff OUT and then eventually will be fun to put back in. The pieces of fabric look textured which adds extra fun.
5. V-tech play cube
Both of my girls have loved this play cube! It’s another great dual purpose toy that works well for reaching during floor time and then aids in sitting practice when placed between baby’s legs.
6. Sophie the giraffe
Don’t ask me WHY this toy is such a big hit, I can’t explain it lol. But I can tell you that both of my girls love Sophie the giraffe! She’s perfect for teething, squishing and playing with!
7. Haba rainbow ball
Another great “movement” toy option. I love how this ball is soft and manipulable with the folded fabric, making a great choice for babies this age!
8. Flip fish
Babies this age LOVE tags. And this fish toy has “scales” that are essentially just a bunch of tags lol so it’s an instant hit! I love using it for both tummy time and sitting by placing the fish on baby’s lap.
9. Hape wobble penguin
This little wobble penguin moves and wobbles when your baby touches it but it doesn’t fall down! It also chimes and flaps its wings when you hit it making it adorable and enticing for your baby to continue to try and get it as it moves. Great for motivating movement which is what we want to start to encourage at this age.
10. Senser play kit
In case you can’t tell, I’m a lovevery fan. This play kit includes several variations of toys that I have mentioned in this idea list. AND it has the “magic tissue box” which is a favorite for both of my girls and I have yet to find a sturdy, quality “dupe” for it.
11. Roll rattle
Another simple, yet effective toy to encourage movement in babies 4-7 months. This rattle rolls and well…rattles! Baby will like to watch and hear the rattle as it rolls and, hopefully, want to move to get it!
1. Montessori shape sorter
This simple shape sorter is great for babies, with only 3 large shapes to place its a great “beginner” shape sorter option to work on problem solving and fine motor skills.
2. Sassy stacker rings
Stacking rings on the stacker and taking the off is a skill that starts to emerge at this age. I love this Sassy ring stacker because it has a variety of ring shapes and textures, making it a fun toy to play with and explore even when you’re not stacking them!
3. Whirly Squigz spinners
I love these spinner toys for working on vertical skills such as standing and cruising. They also work well for sitting and make a great “on-the-go” toy option as they can be suctioned to smooth surfaces.
4. Drip-drop stacker cups
These stacking & nesting cups are fun to play with IN and OUT of the bathtub. Your baby will love to explore placing them inside of each other, stacking them, and also knocking them down! They each have a variety of little holes at the bottom that make for a fun time filling them with water and watching it drip out in the bathtub! These are one of our faves.
5. Hide and find ball box
This toy is perfect to work on object permanence and problem solving. Your little one will love dropping the ball in and opening the side door to look for it.
6. Softzone steps and slide
This is easily one of the best purchases I made for Charlotte when she was around 8 months old. She recently turned 2 and STILL plays with these little steps and slide! They are perfect for working on climbing/crawling up, kneeling, pulling to stand, sliding down, pushing toys/cars down… the list goes on. We love it!
7. Ball popper
This toy was always a big favorite when I was working with patients in the clinic. Babies (and toddlers) loved this thing! It’s fun to put the balls in and watch them pop out. You can also use the balls to roll away to encourage crawling/walking etc. or place the toy higher to encourage baby to stand and play.
8. Pop/spin diaper bag toys pack
I am ordering this ASAP! We actually already own the Dimpl toy included here. But I love the others they included in this “diaper bag pack”… the mini spinner toy looks so cool! I also love the other popper/dimpl toys included. Looks easy to bring along when out and about and keep baby entertained.
9. Radio flyer push wagon
This toy is one that your baby will use even after they start walking independently! It is a push toy that your baby can stand and push to walk for practice, but it’s ALSO a wagon. You can put toys etc. in the toy and push it. So in the future it can be a shopping cart, baby stroller, etc. I love that it can be used for a long time!
10. Vtech sit to stand walker
This is another option for a push-walker toy. The buttons and gears on the front of the toy keep baby entertained for sitting, crawling, standing.. and then baby can stand and push the toy with the handle. Charlotte LOVED this little push toy when she was learning how to walk… and even afterwards!