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* Wesco's (01376 503 590) bright and charming Animal Cushions and Giant Floor Cushions make highly visible and desirable goals for the crawling explorer. Our favourites are, in the smaller range, Karen the chicken (34) and, among the giants, Hetty the Hedgehog (72), who is big enough to sit on. * Wesco also makes some of the best softplay equipment around. Its Tiny Tot modules offer a safe way of varying the terrain for the newly mobile baby. The range includes mats, shallow steps, cubes, wave-shaped wedges and flat ramps. Available in bright, pastel or patterned colourways, they are made from foam and covered with fabric-backed vinyl. Tiny Tot Module Kit 2 (pictured) costs 136.80.

* Wesco's (01376 503 590) bright and charming Animal Cushions and Giant Floor Cushions make highly visible and desirable goals for the crawling explorer. Our favourites are, in the smaller range, Karen the chicken (34) and, among the giants, Hetty the Hedgehog (72), who is big enough to sit on.

* Wesco also makes some of the best softplay equipment around. Its Tiny Tot modules offer a safe way of varying the terrain for the newly mobile baby. The range includes mats, shallow steps, cubes, wave-shaped wedges and flat ramps. Available in bright, pastel or patterned colourways, they are made from foam and covered with fabric-backed vinyl. Tiny Tot Module Kit 2 (pictured) costs 136.80.

* Lego Baby is a range of bricks, wheeled vehicles and figures designed for this age group. The bricks fit together easily and the shapes are big and softly rounded. Some pieces rattle, and the characters, animal and human, all have smiley faces. A Giant Set comprising 102 bricks plus train and figures is available from Galt (08702 424 477), price 78.95.

* Also from Galt comes the classic Baby Walker wooden trolley (34.95), still one of the best ways of encouraging the early walkers, and a good container to hold your smooth wooden Galt First Bricks (14.99 for a set of 24, some coloured, some plain wood, and a few illustrated).

* Little Tikes' Aquarium Shape Sorter (9.95) is another attractive container, plastic this time. Available from Step by Step (0845 300 1089), it's a translucent tank with big shape holes in its removable lid. The idea is to post the various fish shapes through the holes, but for children under one year old, just putting the fish into the tank and taking them out is usually enough.

* Early Learning Centre's (08705 352 352) My 1st Phone (6) goes down well, thanks to its bright colours and the four big keys, each of which produces a different ringing tone. Children will enjoy it even after the batteries have run out (or you have removed them!).

* Again from ELC comes the Baby Rainmaker (5), a short plastic version of the South American rainstick. When upended, this simple instrument makes the soothing sound of rain while the coloured beads inside it fall in a fascinating cascade.

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