You know, you can buy all the Lamaze and Baby Einstein crap in the world for you kid, but sometimes it's the random stuff they love the most. My parents went to Japan for a vacation last year, and while they were there they got a couple of toys for their grandchild-to-be. One of them was this simple rattle (pictured), made by this company called Toyroyal.
It's cute, but not anything you would think was that special. There's no black, white and red stripes; no crinkly flaps; and if you can believe it, it doesn't even speak Spanish. All it is is a basic, plastic rattle that makes a chiming noise when you shake it. And right now it's pretty much her favorite thing in the world. I can surround her with all kinds of stuff while she's sitting on the floor playing, and all I have to is hold it up, make it chime and she kicks her legs and yelps like it's the coolest thing she's ever seen.
Then she grabs it and tries to put it in her mouth.
I'm pretty sure you can't get them in America, but it you've got a friend (or a mom and dad) who are going to Japan anytime soon, I'd recommend asking for one.
Here's the Google translation of the Toyroyal page where the "baby's fun" rattle "Super chime" is found (750 yen = a little over $7.00).