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Baby Basics :: Play

Today we’re going to be talking about all things play. These are the items that will get a lot or very little attention. I’ve you’re baby has a favorite toy or you know a great taobao shop, please let us know in the comments!

Free time = an organized toy mat. Oh the life of the first born!

These foam squares are an easy solution to wood or tile flooring. They are available at Walmart or any supply store.

Board Books
We start reading when they’re young!

Five-months-old is the perfect time to introduce Fox in Socks.

There are a wide range of Chinese board books and bi-lingual books available at certain XinHua Bookstores and shops on

The most common books will have photos of animals, fruits, or vegetables.

You can also order English books on The book price is the same as the US, but the shipping price is local.

For more details on how we gathered our English library go here.

Bouncy Seat
We received this bouncy seat 2nd hand and have gotten great use out of it. Since it was used before and after our kids, it has bounced 8 babies! Not bad!

(We actually never installed batteries. I used it more like a chair.)

The bouncy seat allows the baby to sit up and survey the world around them. I remember sitting Schäfer in the bouncy on the counter right beside the sink. I talked to him while I washed the dishes. I also used the bouncy when I needed to cook.

Bouncy seats are available in a variety of styles on

When we adopted Sianna, some friends loaned us their Bumbo. Wow!

Our adoption took place within 2 weeks of referral. At that time, our bouncy seat was on loan to a friend in another city so I was thankful to have the Bumbo. I put Sianna on the counter top and we made cookies together. Sianna loved the Bumbo.

Selah was the 6th baby to use this Bumbo. She sat in it each morning at breakfast and watched us eat.

I was thankful for the Bumbo, but also happy that I could return it as we don’t have any storage space.

If I had to choose, I would recommend a bouncy seat over a Bumbo simply because the bouncy breaks down and stores easily. That’s the thing about some of these baby toys (hello – exersaucer!) – they are only used for a few months before they are stored away or passed along.

The Bumbo is available on for the same price as in the US.

Some babies love a swing. Other’s don’t.

This swing was passed on to us from a friend. Schäfer sat in it maybe three times. We tried to share it with our local friends, but they were terrified it would “damage the baby’s neck” so we gave it to Amy when she was expecting her first.

Swings are available on

Play Mat
Here’s a very happy Schäfer! The play mat is another one of those items that has been passed around and used by 6 babies!

In Chinese culture, babies are held… constantly… in layers upon layers of clothing. Lying a baby on the floor – alone! – is a strange concept. After Ayi watched Selah for a few minutes, she said in amazement, “She really likes it!”

Play mats are available on

Just like everything else, it won’t be long before they roll over and start scooting off the mat to get into other things!

Once they start rolling over and scooting backwards, a blanket on the floor with toys can be fun – especially if the toys are not within their reach. It’s good to have a goal.

This was definitely a first-time-parents purchase. Schäfer used the walker for maybe 3 weeks. A friend had this so Sianna never used it. Selah used it maybe 2 weeks.

Honestly, as soon as our kids start to pull up on all fours, we took the walker away and gave them more floor time so that they could begin crawling.

Walkers are available locally. I’m not a big fan and I do feel that it discourages crawling with is important to brain development.

Wow. Toys. Most of our baby toys were 2nd hand. When Schäfer was a baby, nobody knew about so buying certified BPA/lead free toys was a challenge.

Today there are many toys available on Brands like Fisher Price or Baby Einstein are available for US prices.

The baby toys that got the most play at our house were:
Stacking Cups
First Keys
Wooden ABC/123 Blocks Set

There are two toys that we brought from the US that I would bring again:
Hello Tonka Dump Truck.

The Tonka Truck was a birthday gift for Schäfer’s 2nd birthday.

Sianna always liked riding on it.

Selah pushed it around the house when she was learning to walk.

It is still the toy that gets played with everyday.

I don’t regret bringing it to China.
Given the chance, I’d haul it over again.

The second toy I would carry over again is the trains and tracks we purchased off eBay. (Details here.) This toy has received a lot of playtime and I think it will still entertain Schäfer for a few more years.

Trains and tracks are now available on for a very good price, but I still think we got a better deal buying used off eBay.

Swim Floaties
There are a wide variety of swim floaties available in China.

Shopping List
Available in China
foam mats
books – Chinese and bi-lingual
bouncy seat
swim floaties

Bring from America
English books (also available at

Whew. How about you? Would you rather have a bouncy seat or a Bumbo? Did your baby love to swing? What toys get the most attention at your home?

1 comment to Baby Basics :: Play

  • Beth M.

    While we are not in China, I would love to add my thoughts! 🙂 We never had a Bumbo at our home, but given the choice I would pick a bouncy seat, simply because the baby can sit and watch, but can also easily and comfortably fall asleep and take a nap in it! 🙂

    Our babies did NOT love to swing. The swing we have didn’t look all that comfortable, either (it was a sling- or hammock-style swing with no structure, so they were in the c-shape and I always feared for their breathing!).

    Toys that get the most attention around here aren’t toys at all – DVDs get pulled off of shelves and eaten, as do books, and empty boxes and anything in our recycling bin tend to be the life of the party. Save your money for other, more important things! 😉

    I would say, though, that any type of ball is very versatile and useful. We even have a toy that you can put balls into (specific ones that come with it), push a button and music plays while air shoots through the mechanism, bringing the balls up through a tube and popping them up in the air before they fall back onto a ramp and slide back inside. Kids can grab the ball as it pops up and play with it separately, too. Here’s the American Amazon link for the Playskool Busy Ball Popper, as I can’t read Chinese, so can’t find it on! 🙂

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