How to Raise Curious Babies: Swears from Play Expert Jennie Monness

Jennie Monness has turned the art of play into a serious business. As the founder of Mo' Mommies, a resource for moms and moms-to-be, she helps moms connect with each other and their children through purposeful play. "There's no right or wrong way to play," says Jennie. "For me, it comes down to what we want our children to get out of their play. Don’t we want them to be engaged rather than entertained? Do we want them to sit and watch when they play or immerse themselves in learning and fun?"

That means curating the right mix of go-to toys and "non-toys" that encourage interactive and creative play. Fortunately, as an early childhood educator with a toddler (and one on the way!) Jennie has done the homework for us when it comes to finding playthings that create curious and focused babies. On her list are atypical items that engage young minds, especially while on the go. Like asking for cups and coffee stirrers on a plane to keep little hands and brains busy, Jennie knows how to infuse creativity into every day play. "Imagination and play are endless and build confidence when children can engage with objects that have no right or wrong way to use!"

Check out this play expert's Swears for a well-stocked diaper bag, sure to make mom and baby's day out full of adventure and fun.

Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Friends Magnetic Character Set

“I love that this is an interactive, non screen option for on the go play. It practices fine motor skills by taking the magnets on and off and encourages creativity by coming up with stories of their own when creating scenes.”

Multicolor Plastic Chain

“Children of all ages love to make noise and they love to cause the noise, am I right?! Plastic chains are amazing for this. They can shake them (a movement they love to do), and it makes noise depending on the surface they are using it. It’s a long object they can easily move around, drag, or wrap. The opportunities for play with it are endless, so just throw it in your stroller or diaper bag for on the go fun.”

Indestructibles Books

“Not only are these baby proof and can be crumbled, chewed, attempted to rip, but the crinkle and content is on point. They also take up NO room for being on the go. It’s a diaper bag staple.”

Rainbow Pebbles

“I love smaller objects (as long as they aren’t choking hazards!) for children because they are rare to come by. Part of what they love when they are young is sorting, collecting, and dumping. With this set of colored pebbles they can literally do any of that and more. Older children can create patterns with them (you can order pattern cards with them, too) while younger children will just enjoy exploring them.”

Photo credit: Photos of Jennie by Michelle Rose Photo

Washi Tape

“Stick pieces of tape all over the ‘travel’ area. For car rides, leave some hanging loosely from the window, across the car seat, from the mirror, etc. On flights, leave some hanging from the window or the seat in front. It’s also a very portable craft for making patterns and “roads” for toy cars for a toddler! Truly great and portable for babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages!”

We think you deserve to buy only awesome things. We've asked the most discerning women out there to share what they honestly, truly swear by so you can get on with life and find your next favorite product, faster. What do you SwearBy?