If the toy invasion hasn't begun, brace yourself. It starts innocently enough, probably with some cute, furry, soft stuffed animals. Then come the large wooden toys. Then the noisy toys. Just when you think you might be able to contain the madness to one small playroom, your baby will be a toddler and past the choking danger. Just blink and your house will be overrun by millions of teeny-tiny Lego-sized toys. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Here's what our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — do to corral their babies' toys.
"It's very hard to keep toys neat," says Amy Thompson, M.D., a mom of three kids and an OB-GYN at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio. "It's a constant battle, and it makes us want a magic wand! When faced with a choice between toys with multiple small pieces and toys with larger, fewer pieces, we get the latter."
"I have baskets in our living room to keep all of our kids' toys in," says Michelle Hephner, D.O., a mom of two children and a family physician in private practice with Central DuPage Physician Group in Winfield, Illinois. "But every morning, my son dumps all of his toys into a heap. We have a rule that before nap and before going to bed, we sing a song and pick up all the toys. Even from a young age, my son has been very compliant — though sometimes he gets distracted and starts playing with the toys instead of picking them up."
"One reason I put my younger son in day care is because he emulates others," says Sonia Ng, M.D., a mother of two. Ng is also a pediatrician and a sedation attending physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University Medical Center at Princeton and the Pediatric Imaging Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. "I thought he would learn to put away his toys and sit in circles. He doesn't rip books at school, and he doesn't throw food there either. He saves all that for home. We use an octagonal baby gate to corral all his toys. We have one in our living room. We also have a coffee table with huge hidden drawers. In the guest room, my son has a bunch of plastic boxes from Bed Bath & Beyond that we use to store his Thomas trains and tracks."
"My husband and I kept most of our babies' toys in our family room," says Jennifer Gilbert, D.O., a mom of twins and OB-GYN at Paoli Hospital in Pennsylvania. "I bought interlocking foam floor mats online. I put them on one side of the room, and I designated that area the 'toy area.' I put our Pack 'n Play over there, and we store most of the toys inside of that. It
works well because it keeps the toys contained, yet our kids can get their own toys out. In theory, they could put their toys away, too, but at the end of the day, I just throw all of the toys back into the Pack 'n Play."
Dr. Rallie's Tips
"I wanted my babies to have access to their toys, and that meant keeping them on the living room floor where my boys could see them and reach them. I didn't mind having toys scattered around the living room floor during the day while the boys were awake, but I did like putting them up after their bedtime so it wouldn't seem like my house was always a total disaster. I kept a few wicker laundry baskets in the living room, and after putting the babies to bed, I'd just scoop up all the toys and toss them in the baskets. When the floor was free and clear of toys, it gave me the feeling that my house had some semblance of order, and I could sit down on the couch and relax with my husband." — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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