Maximize Your Child’s Developmental Potential | Our First Year

When should I start playing with my baby? The answer to this question is, as soon as that little bundle of joy makes their arrival.

You have been preparing for months for your little one. The nursery has been freshly painted, the crib and Pack ‘n Play painstakingly put together, and all of those adorable (albeit somewhat impractical) baby clothes have been washed and carefully put away (organized by size, of course). The baby shower has come and gone and you’ve received diapers, wipes, an abundance of clothing, blankets, strollers, bottles, pacifiers, wipe warmer (sure, you’ll use it once or twice), and the occasional gift card for a mani/pedi from a seasoned momma. But what about toys??? Did you forget to put them on your baby registry?

One can become overwhelmed by the variety of toys from which to choose. Go with the traditional toy or the current fad? Boy toys, girl toys, or gender neutral? And what about batteries and technology?

The Our First Year team is going to let you in on a little secret…YOU are your baby’s favorite toy. Your baby would prefer to look at your face, hear your voice, and interact with you rather than the trendy top of the line baby toy. With that being said, there are some toys that promote the appropriate and crucial interaction with your baby that is necessary for the development of fine/gross motor skills and language/social skills.

The Our First Year team is comprised of three practicing therapists – a Speech-Language Pathologist, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. We have taken out the guesswork for you and have hand-selected 8 developmentally-appropriate toys for babies from birth to one year. We have designed an activity card for each toy, using our many decades of expertise in our fields. These activity cards contain tried and true methods for meaningful playtime with your baby. The activity cards will inform you of why each toy was selected and which areas of development it targets. All 8 toys are housed in a crimson-colored Our First Year backpack, so that you can work on baby’s developmental milestones wherever you go.

The Our First Year backpack, welcome letter, toys, and activity cards come in handy when visiting the grandparent or staying with the babysitter and other caregivers. You can feel confident in knowing that your child is engaged in meaningful play while you are away.

For more information about the Our First Year Company, or to purchase the Our First Year backpack, please visit our website at We are also on Instagram (ourfirstyear1), Twitter (@our1styear) and Facebook (@ourfirstyear1).

Maximize your child’s developmental potential and enhance playtime with your baby. Our First Year…it’s all in the bag!

About the Authors,

The Team from Our First Year:

Heather Pawelkiewicz – In addition to a Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Florida (Go, Gators!), Heather also holds a Master’s in French Linguistics. She has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist over a variety of settings (private practice, hospital, outpatient, school) for 13 years. When Heather is not writing blogs for Our First Year or treating students at the local elementary school, you can find her working on her historical/fantasy novel and reading, cooking, playing board games, hiking, and traveling with her high school sweetheart, 10-year old son, and 9-year old daughter.

Donna Woodworth – Donna is a Physical Therapist with over 37 years in the field. She holds a Bachelor’s in Physical Therapy and a Master’s in Exercise Science. After her youngest son entered college, Donna returned to school herself and obtained a Doctorate in the field of Physical Therapy from A.T. Stills University. Donna’s experience includes working with people throughout the lifespan; however, when her children were young she started working in the local elementary school in order to maximize her time with her two boys. To this day, Donna continues to work in the public school setting with the special needs population from age 3-22 years old. Donna is an avid exerciser and loves to hike and travel with her husband and two adult sons.

Hollie Hendershot – Hollie is an Occupational Therapist with 17 years of experience. She holds a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy and a Bachelor’s of Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia. She attended UGA for her undergraduate studies (Go, Dawgs!). Hollie has experience across the pediatric continuum including outpatient rehab, early intervention, home visits, and the schools. Additionally, she owns Foundations Therapy, a contracting company. Most recently, Hollie has started branching out and guest lecturing at a local college. Hollie enjoys time with her husband, son, and two daughters. As a family, they enjoy hiking, playing cards/games, and sports. Hollie loves sports and enjoys watching and playing them. She spends her leisure time reading, exercising/ running, and watching her kids grow!

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