Gone are the days when you could keep your baby amused with a wooden spoon and a couple of Tupperware containers, or switch on the baby-sitter, sorry, the television, when you needed some time out from the demands of a one year old. The pressure to prove that your 21st-century bub is the most talented on the planet is all too real for the mothers of today. Head to any toy store or baby specialist shop in the Emirates and you are overwhelmed with a plethora of choice, from baby play mats and gyms, to Baby Einstein products, electronic toys, brain teasers and musical instruments - all of which promise to transform your child into a focused, intelligent, multi-lingual, musical prodigy.
While we all know that the most likely decider of our childrens' talents is in their genes, there's no harm in offering them a few challenges that may pique their budding interests and set them on a lifelong love of learning. We check a few of them out.
For Parents keen to stimulate the minds of their children from day one. Fun factor One of the must-have toys for the under-one set, the play mat and gym is designed to stimulate the senses and enhance a baby's gross motor skills. Proponents say they help to develop juniors' touch, sight, sound and focus, as well as give them a head start in musical awareness - a handy feature for parents convinced their baby is the next Amadeus. Brightly coloured and padded, they sport an arch with dangling toys and feature fabric that can make a range of sounds when touched, such as crinkling and squeaking. Crying game We fail to see how newborns - who spend most of their first couple of months sleeping - will benefit from this gadget until they are at least six months old.
For The super savers of tomorrow. Fun factor No nursery is complete without a piggy bank and, in keeping with our family budget issue, we are a big supporter of teaching all juniors to start saving as early as possible. Toddlers love nothing more than putting anything and everything into slots, and what better way to get them to save. The rhinestone sparkles on this piggy bank are sure to catch their eyes - and hopefully provide more constructive fun than trying to push their teethers and biscuits into dad's high-tech Blu-ray player. Crying game The challenge here is for mums and dads to be consistent in teaching juniors how to save and budget, rather than allowing them to blow it all at the candy store.
For The high-net-worth infant who really does have everything. Fun factor The ultimate in baby bling, this pacifier boasts more than 278 pave-cut diamonds totalling three carats and is set in 14-carat European white gold. While diamonds might be a girl's best friend, the only kick the baby is likely to get out of this is learning to count the number of gems in the pacifier (an essential talent in super-wealthy families). However, the overwhelming sparkle of this dummy is sure to keep them mesmerised - at least for a while. Crying game This is more of a keepsake than a practical device to lull babies to sleep, so it is highly recommended to keep it on the top shelf until your child is old enough to truly appreciate it.