Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Toy? What toy?

Raise your hand if any of these situations have happened to you:

1) After days/weeks/months of being stuck inside, you finally decide to brave a restaurant. Like the prepared mom that you are, you have dutifully packed the diaper bag full of your preemie's favorite toys. The ones that he/she could play with for hours at home. Five minutes after being seated, all of those toys are on the ground and your preemie is getting close to a meltdown.

2) You're running late so you grab the diaper bag without looking inside and head to the car. When you arrive at the doctor's/friend's house/store you realize that there are no toys in the diaper bag. None. And your preemie is not happy about it.

If any of those situations (or something similar) has happened to you, never fear. I am the mom of a preemie who sometimes prefers anything but a toy to play with (or has become bored of her toys quickly) so I have created a list of things you can use as toys/entertainment when needed.

Paper - all kids seem to love paper. Give your preemie a piece of unimportant paper and let him/her crinkle it, rip it, shred it, whatever keeps him/her happy.

Sugar packets - these are great because they make noise when you shake them. They also come in different colors and can be stacked, put in a container, moved around, etc. If you have older kids, ask them to count how many of each color there is, stack them to compare the size, create a pattern, etc.

Water bottle - for my daughter a water bottle can be like magic. Especially one that is only 1/3 full. You can swish the water back and forth. Shake it to see bubbles. Roll it back and forth, etc. Arrowhead has a new bottle that is much easier to squeeze (and it makes noise).

Watch - My daughter loves to play with my husband's watch. You can put your watch on your preemie's wrist to see what he/she does.

Remote for your car - If you know that you have parked far enough away that your little one won't set off the alarm, give your preemie the remote for your car. Let him/her press the buttons.

Crackers - Give your preemie a packet of saltines to play with. The package makes noise and they can squash the crackers inside.

Sunglasses (especially if they are cheap or their own) - my daughter loves to play with her sunglasses. They have elastic on the back so she can bite it, chew on them or just play with them. Since they are hers, it's okay if she gets drool on them or drops them on the ground.

Diapers/Wipes - hand your preemie a clean diaper and/or wipe. Getting the chance to open/close the diaper or feel the wipe can be enough to calm your preemie down (at least for a few minutes).

"Look at that" - if you are in a new environment, start pointing out various things. Sound as excited as possible about each thing.

Just remember: If you are giving your preemie something that isn't a toy, keep an even closer eye on him/her to make sure they aren't chewing/swallowing/touching something they shouldn't.

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