If you're like me, when you walk down the baby aisles at your local store you can be overwhelmed by the staggering amount of toys and gear there are to choose from. Whether you're looking for a gift or you're expecting and want to know the difference between the good stuff and the junk, listen up and I'll tell you what I think!

My favorite toy, hands down, is the Jumparoo. This is a MUST HAVE!!! Your baby won't be ready for it

until around 5 months but it is an awesome toy. Don't confuse this with the Jhonny Jump Up or whatever that thing is that you hang in the doorway - the idea of that thing scares me - what if you don't get it fastened right? UGH! The Jumparoo is a self standing device that is held up by a sturdy metal frame that is easy to put together. Your baby is suspended in a soft cloth "hammock" type seat and her legs will touch the floor. If your baby's legs don't touch you can put a small stack of blankets under her feet until she is comfortably able to hold her own weight on her feet. NOTE: If your baby can't touch comfortably, the seat will start to cut off circulation in her legs/feet! When first starting out, your baby may flop around a little in the seat so you'll want to roll up two receiving blankets and put them around her. Then stand back and watch the crazy fun begin! Once they get used to the idea that they can bounce around, they will love this toy and you will be able to clean, cook or just sit without having to entertain your little one. WARNING: Do not leave a very young baby unattended in the Jumparoo as they have a tendancy to get their arms stuck down inside the seat and other precarious positions.

Another of my favorites is Sophie the Giraffe. It is just a squeaky little rubber giraffe, but it will quickly become one of your baby's favorite friends. Sophie is soft and chewy and will feel great in any baby's mouth whether they are teething or not. You may think, "whoopdy-doo! A rubber giraffe, so what?" - trust me!!! All of my friends with babies swear by this toy too. Not only is it cute, but it's made of all natural rubber with food paint on it so it is perfectly safe and will never break down so baby can chew away and you can feel confident that this toy is safe.

One of the greatest inventions I've ever seen is a pretty new one as far as I know. The company Bright Starts makes this awesome little teether that is either shaped like a bunch of grapes or a giant strawberry. When baby bites down on this toy, it gently vibrates - GENIUS!!! My little girl literally salivates over this thing, she chomps away on this and the next thing I know there is drool everywhere!

Probably one of the most common baby toys that have stood the test of time is the great Linkadoo! They are those great little rings that come in all kinds of shapes and colors that you can hang off of the carseat handle or just about anything else. They are great because they are really easy for baby to get a hand around and manipulate. They love to chew on them and bat at them and pull on them - you can't go wrong with Linkadoos!

As far as baby gear goes, one of my new faves is the Bumbo chair. You may have heard some negative press about them and even a voluntary recall. This is because some mom, somewhere, left her very young baby alone in this seat and wasn't watching him/her. The fact is, you should NEVER leave a little baby unattended unless they are confined in a crib or playpen with no toys, blankets or anything else. In my opinion, that's just common sense... I loved being able to put my baby in this seat so that she can watch what is going on and she loves it too. You shouldn't put baby in this until she can hold up her own head though, that's a recipe for disaster.

One of the items that has been essential for me for both of my girls is this great little mirror made by Fisher Price. It attaches to your backseat and has lights and music and a remote for mom. This mirror allows mom to keep an eye on her rear-facing baby and also keeps baby entertained. I loved the lights because my oldest daughter would get a little scared about being alone in the backseat when it was dark so the lights kept her happy and comforted.

There were plenty of other things that I loved with a new baby but these were my most stand-out winners!

Check out my other "mommy friendly" articles!