brightly colored baby clutter

No, you didn’t?!! Yes. Yes, I did.

You know how much I didn’t want to fill up my house with brightly colored baby crap. I dreaded it. I’ve babysat for kids who’s rooms you couldn’t even walk across because a two foot rainbow of plastic toys (that they didn’t even play with) blocked you at every turn. I wanted to retain some of my adult sophistication even though I live in an apartment that is falling down around me. I figured I could entertain a baby with my bright personality. Who needs store-bought gadgets that play music and give you a headache when you can make anything you want out of a toilet paper roll? The best toys are things you already have, right?

I had never encountered the era of the bored baby. The shrieking, the crying, the tears and the sad sad faces… I figured out that almost 90% of the shrieking was because she gets bored easily. She is her mother’s daughter after all. She yells if I don’t pick her up and walk around the house with her. She yells if I walk around the house in the same areas too long. She yells if we don’t take two walks a day. She yells when I am changing her diaper if I’m not tugging at the string that makes her parasol mobile flutter over her head. She yells if I don’t rock her fast enough or if I keep reading from the same page in a picture book too long. This baby has an Mtv attention span and she hasn’t even seen Mtv yet!

So I broke down and ordered a baby activity center. I ordered it last week and tracked it’s progress every day as if my life depended on it. I thought, as soon as the activity center gets here then all my problems will be solved. I’ll get to do the dishes again, pay my bills, organize my spice cupboard and maybe wipe off all the drips on the stove… Maybe I could finally get that big freelance job done and start working on cleaning up Toby’s office for him.

Ha ha ha ha ha HAH! I’m so stupid.

Baby Bug loves her activity center, she does. She loves all the funny dangling things and the music doesn’t even drive her crazy. I was so worried that all this stimulation would hurt her little brain but obviously I underestimated the capacity of Baby Bug’s little brain.

My new problem is she only likes it if I’m playing with her in it too. I try everything. Sometimes I pick it up and drag her across the floor in it. I stick my head in under it and we kick and play together. (She’s much more coordinated with her feet and legs than I am with my feet and legs.) I make up songs about the dingly dangly things. We dance to the peppy Mozart tune… It’s a lot of fun. But I’m still not getting anything done and there is still a lot of shrieking going on.

So what’s next? An exersaucer?

I might as well kiss my dream of being a minimalist goodbye.


  • Kristin

    Someone bought us an exersaucer as a gift and I hid it far away in the dark recesses of the cobwebby basement. But then I brought it up, because of the moaning and shrieking. And Nolan loved it. And now it is the centerpeice in our livingroom.

    Don’t hate us because of our plastic.

  • onbeelay

    I do have to say that the introduction of the Exersaucer and the jumparoo thing allowed me to get dishes and vaccuming done sans strapped on baby. Good for 15 minutes for my MTV baby.

  • Annie

    You may not been keen to try this, but when my son was about Baby Bug’s age, I started playing Baby Einstein DVDs for him. He loved then and they were the cure I was looking for his very short attention span. He would be transfixed watching Baby Mozart and Baby Bach and I could get the length of the whole video to do stuff before he looked for me. Something to consider, as there is nothing worse than what you have to do to keep some babies occupied. :)

  • Aunt Jaynette

    The rule about TV for us was that if it wasn’t smart enough for me to sit through, it wasn’t smart enough for them. Try Wallace and Gromit, Blue’s Clues, Franklin, Little Bear and now Dora. There is a lot of quality kids programs available. Most shows are commercial free for 20 minutes. There are a lot of new things that weren’t available 10 years ago. Try borrowing some from the library or from friends before you invest.
    Are you crazy? Please don’t tell me you are actually going to clean Toby’s office.
    That should be so far down YOUR to do list that it has fallen off the page.

  • Jennifer

    Well, at least she kinda likes it? The only thing that is acceptable to my just turned 4 month old for any length of time is the highchair, laid back with the tray off. The tray really makes her upset. Probably because the chair overtakes her with the tray on. I think she likes the height of the chair, compared to all the other baby contraptions we have (bouncy seat, swing, bumbo chair, corner of the couch). She lasts a good 20 – 30 minutes in the highchair as long as she’s in the room with me and I keep talking to her. I tried all sorts of toys with my four year old daughter early on and she really really hated all of them.

    We’ve alreayd pulled out the Baby Einstein DVD’s over here. My husband refers to those as baby crack. They already kind of keep the attention of the 4 month old. I’ve gotten 20 minutes to get things done with Baby Einstein. The 4 year old’s eyes glaze over from the memory of hours and hours of watching them as a baby.

  • bt

    I gave in and bought an exersaucer for baby #2. She’s my high-need child and she loved standing and being able to see us all the time. It definately lets you do those little things, like shower, that I couldn’t get through without a lot of screaming otherwise. I bought a used one at a resale shop for $20. They are unfortunately not very useful once crawling and walking starts.

  • Lola

    Let me start by saying the plastic accumulation is inevitable. Just try to borrow what you can so you are not stuck with it later.

    I second the Baby Einstein route. My daughter watched Baby Bach every day for about six months. Strapped in her bouncy chair, she cooed and giggled while I did things like have a shower, switched loads of laundry, and cooked the odd thing. And if Baby Bug doesn’t like the first one you show her (if you choose to go that route), keep trying different ones. There is bound to be one she likes.

    The other thing that was a time-giver to me was the Tiny Love Symphonies in Motion mobile. My daughter was so captivated by it that she would watch two consecutive fifteen minute segments. And again I could shower, etc., knowing that she was safe in her crib and being entertained.

  • Carrie

    I really hate having a living room full of plastic baby junk, but the exersaucer is SO SO SO SO worth it. We have two. That’s how much I love them. One for the bathroom so I can take a shower and one for my craft room so I can quilt without worrying about the boy pulling the iron on his head. I got one of them dirt cheap off craigslist so I don’t feel too guilty.

  • Sara

    As much as I dreaded the exersaucer, it saved my life! I could eat, vacuum and take a shower. And really we didn’t have it that long, so it worked out okay. I was really opposed to plastic stuff too, but there are some really great plastic things out there. We just try to keep it to a minimum.
    She’s looking so cute!

  • Ann

    Yes! The Exersaucer – our first boy wore out the original and we had to get a second for his little brother – It was definately worth it!!

  • Kristina

    Oh my, I was SO going to pick a favourite photo but I just couldn’t: they’re all so cute!!
    (Ok, I adore the one where she’s kicking at the ‘dangly’ bits with her feet!) :)

  • carrien

    Try getting a backpack, with a hip belt to save your shoulders. Mine at that age loved it when I carried them around to do house work and she doesn’t look like she’s too heavy yet. They can see everything but their little hands can’t reach, I even cooked. I don’t know how well it would accomodate your work, but it may free up some time for that when she’s sleeping or something if you can do chores when she’s awake.

  • Jamie

    Such cute pictures! The exersaucer was a lifesaver with both my girls, too, although my oldest really loved it. I had “gently loved” exersaucers for both (the first one was borrowed and the second one my MIL purchased for a whopping $5 at a consignment sale). I added some plastic baby links and would also attach Amelia’s Lamaze brand “bug” to the exersaucer for extra entertainment! I love the wood Melissa & Doug toys, but we have the inevitable accumulation of plastic at our house.

  • Felix

    I have one too. At least it folds away and stores easily so you don’t have to look at the bright baby colors 24/7. So far it’s the brightest baby clutter that we have. Seems to entertain Baby Felix for a little while at a time so it’s worth it :)

  • runwaylights

    I’m a clean freak. When my son was born I thought I’ll just buy him a couple Einstein things and that will be it. He owns most of Target and ToyRus. As an only child the parents are the playmates—unless you have siblings.

    give up the fight girl…..the brightly colored toys will take you over.. Bawahhhaaa.

  • maria

    Hi – I lurk but love your blog. I have 3 6 and under. #3 was a surprise who came just weeks (okay the pregnancy anyway) after I purged all the baby stuff from our house. One of the few things I COULD NOT DO WITHOUT was the saucer. All of my kids LOVED it and it bought me 2 hand to do things like make a meal and clean up after it. The first one came from a yard sale, the second one from Craig’s list. You’ll only use it 6 mos or so – but it’s worth a shot. Everyone has a different must have – but the saucer really is a life saver.


  • Gretchen

    Exersaurcer are wonderful! Borrow one if you can – then give it back when you’re done (or she’s done!)

    Love checking in and looking at the pictures. Takes me back to having my first new baby.

  • ginger incognito

    The little kick-and-play and exersaucer were so wonderful. I could shower! Brush my teeth! Whee! For a while, I had to be right there with the Doodle, but then she started focusing more on accomplishing tasks (grabbing the piggy hanging down, flipping the flippy thing, etc.), and she didn’t much mind that I wasn’t right there, you know, as long as I was within eye- or earshot.

    There are a couple of really great secondhand places that I like to scout from time to time. Newport Kids (on Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa) can be kind of pricy, but I’ll check there if I can’t find what I want at the Children’s Orchard (in Tustin). I’ve gotten puzzles, toys, books . . . they even have videos like the baby crack (doesn’t everyone call it that?). And everything is “gently used.”

  • jess

    Oh how the mighty fall. :)

    Welcome to colourful plastic life. It goes on and on. But soon she will love making things out of toilet paper rolls too.

  • BeachMama

    Excersaucers save you. Once “J” made it into the excersaucer my life got back on track. Things got done, dinner was made, baby was happy. “J” on the other hand found the playyard a little too stimulating, so we hung a few things at a time for him to swat and kick at.

  • Sistina

    E has been shrieking too. We took her to the doctor just to rule out an ear infection, etc. No such luck. The shrieking is a phase and perfectly normal. She is teething, however. At barely four months. Yeah.
    We caved and bought the Intellitainer thing Fisher Price makes. Kohls.com had it on clearance. E really likes it. The moment we put her in that monstrosity she went nuts. Arms flailing, eyes as big as saucers. It was worth it even if it now takes up 1/3 of our living room. She also really likes the Bumbo chair. She’ll sit in it for 30 minutes or more if there’s a teether or other toy within reach.

  • klp

    The Exersaucer was such a god-send for me with baby #1. He adored it…and so did I! I couldn’t wait for baby #2 to be old enough to enjoy it in the same way (and for a little break for my sore arms.) But, alas, baby #2 didn’t take to it. She insisted on being held until age 4, when I sent her to pre-school (thankfully, she took to that).

  • tara

    Maybe its in the nickname. My son Nathaniel sounds just like your baby bug. His nickname is also “Bug”.

    The exersaucer gets us about 10 minutes. Sometimes 15. Being out of the room is good for 10 minutes. The zoo is also a decent distraction (he’s 5 months now). Sometimes a blanket on the lawn is good for 15 minutes. And blocks work for maybe 30, but only when we play together.

    Hope you find a series of distractions that work for you.