Friday, November 6, 2015

STEM Gifts for Babies

OK, OK. I know babies don't need toys but who can resist the generous spirit a newborn elicits? Here is a list of treasures for teeny tiny baby hands. I have picked them for their STEMy appeal and age-appropriate designs.


At the top of the list is baby paper. This is so light-weight and so small that as soon as your baby can control her hands she will be able to play with this "paper," which is soft material on the outside and crinkly stuff inside. It will be a perfect way for her to use one the first tools at her disposal - her hands. She can grab it, drop it, squish it up and shake it out. Sounds and texture make this first "rattle" a wonderful choice. (BTW, have you noticed how many rattles look like MONSTER-sized rattles? I love how small this baby paper is while still be safe.)

Baby Paper

Next up is a variation on the baby paper. It is a soft book about animals. But it isn't just any old soft book. It has wonderful pictures and tails of various materials sticking out the side. Both of my children LOVED Jungly Tails and I recommend it without reservation.  

Jungly Tails

Recommended for 6months old and up, take a look at these Balls by Infantino. With lots of different sizes, colors and textures, these balls offer pre-science and pre-math learning. And that yellow one with all the grabbers? That one is the one that will be fought over.

Infantino Balls

Nested Cups are another go-to STEM gift. They are good for learning volume - your child will learn how the cups go inside each other. He can also see what other stuff fits in there - other toys, water, grass pickings, etc. There is building to do - stacking the cups in different ways and/or integrating them with other building materials. If you don't want to just let your child crawl around your kitchen sorting your pots and pans, measuring cups, and food storage containers, then you could offer them this set of toys.
Nested Cups

Baby's First Gears. Ambi Toys makes a set of gears recommended for 6 months old and up, this is a great set of gears. The interlocking gears move together. Since mechanically interesting things are what first inspired this blog, I have to include this is one you won't likely see strolling the aisles of Kohl's. ;)

Lastly, let your growing baby learn gravity in a whole new way with baby's first marble run. I like the Roll and Swirl Ball Ramp (for 9 months old and up) over other ball ramps for babies because the ramp is plastic and can grow with the child. After he learns how the balls roll down, other things can be tested like water, sand, tiny cars, beads, etc.

Roll and Swirl

So there you have it. My short list of STEMy toys for babies less than one year old. What would you add?


The last gift, but certainly not the least valuable, is the gift of experience. My favorite STEMy gift is a family pass to a children's museum. A children's museum is a place where children have free reign over the space. There are hands-on activities designed with children in mind. The museums offer variety and novelty that are just unreasonable to expect to offer at home.

All of the museums I've been to have spaces dedicated to babies (Missoula, Montana; Phoenix, Arizona; Mesa, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan). The best museums have dedicated baby spaces at every exhibit, like the "Baby Zones" at the Children's Museum of Phoenix. Use the search tool at the Association of Children's Museums website to find your local museum, or just Google "children's museum [name of city]".

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