Q&A: toys for a 9-month-old

Alecia writes:

"I have a 9-month old son (just turned 9 months yesterday!) who spends 4 days a week at a daycare center, one day a week home with just me during the day, and the weekends home with both me and my husband. He (uh, baby not husband) goes to bed very early (about 6pm) so Monday-Thursday there's not a lot of playtime between daycare, dinner, bedtime routine, etc. However, Friday-Sunday we hang out, play, do things around the house, run errands, nap etc. Pretty typical. My question is - is it possible my son is bored with his toys? What is normal for a just-turned-9-month-old to find entertaining/interesting? Well, besides magazines, anything made of paper, the cats, the cat bowls, floor lint, and our shoes...

We've avoided most of the light-up-and-make-noise types of toys, but have a lot of plastic cups, balls, teething toys, rattles, board books, crinkly things (shunned for anything made of real paper), vehicles of various sorts (planes, trains, trucks, etc.) and one activity-center type thing (very small, not a big one). We don't keep everything out at once, but rotate stuff from being out on the floor vs. put away in the toy bin. The plastic cups are a pretty big hit, as are some soft animal bucket things we got at Target (I think they are called Bucket Buddies), but nothing holds his attention very long (sometimes we're talking 5 seconds or less).

I know babies are *supposed* to have short attention spans, but this seems extreme - it seems like he isn't really interested in any of it right now. He goes on what my husband and I call baby "rampages" where he picks up each toy and immediately flings it aside, moving on to the next where he does the same thing. He can scoot on his belly, but can't cross-crawl (or whatever they call "true" crawling) or pull himself up to standing by himself yet (rolling over, sitting, etc. no problem).

I guess I'm looking for two things - 1) advice on this stage of development (do all 9 month olds find their toys boring? Is this because he's frustrated with his lack of locomotion and is focusing on that?) and 2) any toy recommendations you have from your boys.

P.S. To clarify, I'm not looking to keep him entertained so I can do other stuff (although that would be nice sometimes), but just to find things that he thinks are interesting (besides eating paper). Also, we live in Minnesota and it\'s winter, so long walks outside are often not an option, although we get out as much as we can."

This stage is so frustrating it makes me want to eat paper.

I think he is not bored with his toys, but is bored with himself and his own lack of locomotion. And there's nothing you can do about that, unfortunately.

I wonder if he'd be more interested in motion games with you than in playing with toys per se. Dancing around with you, all the "Trot Trot To Boston"-type bouncing-on-the-knee-until-you-throw-up games, putting him on a big piece of cloth which you then pull around the house to give him a "sled ride" inside the house, rolling off the couch into your arms, etc. Those would at least give him the illusion that he's going somewhere.

He may also like toys he can lie on his stomach and manipulate, or those "gyms" that encourage them to scoot and crawl and pull up. Another big hit might be battery-free "push 'n' go" vehicles that will encourage him to go after them.

At that age both of my boys had just begun to crawl, so they had no interest in toys whatsoever. They were too consumed with exploring our outlet plugs (El Pequeño's current nemesis) and the cat's water dish to care about any stinking toys. But as he got closer to a year, El Chico's favorites were the ball tower, Mega Blocks, and cars in any shape, size, color, or material.

I think the rampage stage is going to last until he's really crawling and can go where he wants to. So get new toys because you think they'll be fun, but don't expect him to spend a ton of time with them until he's more mobile and over the frustrated stage.

Also, many of the advertising circulars that come in your Sunday paper are printed with 100% soy-based inks, so they're not toxic if a kid ended up with a nice big piece of colorful, wrinkly paper in his mouth.

Any more toy suggestions?