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In the early months, your role in the development of your child's brain is simple, lots of love and attention. Then as baby becomes more aware of his/her surroundings it is a good idea to introduce simple games and toys to help stimulate the connections that guide their development. Toys should appeal to some or all of their five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste). Here are some easy aids to introduce.
YUMMY! You will find that everything they can get their hands onto, goes in their mouth as this is the best way they can feel and ‘taste’ the things around them. So if there are things that you either do not want to end up in their mouth, or are toxic, do not leave it lying around.
BATH TIME Appealing to all the senses, a bath can be the most fun a baby and parent can have in a day. Start some fun routines in the bath to get baby use to water on their head and face, (this will help when you baby starts swimming lessons). Having a shower can also be lots of fun, but beware that bubs get very slippery, so have some extra towels handy.
MOVE IT Showing baby some movements they can not do on their own as yet, can help them become more aware of their body. Try some gentle exercises like helping them to stand up, roll over and kick their legs.
MOBILES A visual stimulation of movement, from a mobile or activity centre is fascinating for a baby, especially if there is a sound or music that goes with them. Such toys are great for keeping them amused, but beware of overstimulating a baby when they are due for a sleep.
GO-GO GADGETS Copying what mum and dad does is their way of learning. In today’s society it is no wonder a favourite toy of most babies, is anything that resembles a telephone or remote control. And let's not forget how fun keys can be!
With careful monitoring, a set of stairs is a great way for baby to negotiate height and learn stability, (while getting a pretty good work out). Don’t attempt stairs when you are in a rush, but spend some time on carpeted stairs when you feel you baby is up to it, guiding them up and down.
Soft and cuddly, a plush toy will delight any child and create a sense of comfort. It can also work as a tool to help them self-sooth.
SPIN IT Any toy that is colourful and moves is a winner. The traditional spinning top of the oldest recognisable toys found on archaeological sites, as children have been naturally curious of the action and motion it makes.
SENSORY EXPERIENCE To feel our environment in their hands is the best way to understand the world we live in. Allow your baby to get their hands dirty, by taking hold of your local landscape. Grass, dirt, sand, leaves, gravel, and remember it will also be ‘tested’ in their mouth.
COPY CATS One of the earliest games to play with baby is sticking out your tongue but it doesn’t get old for older bubs either. It’s also an important skill as imitation will be the basis of a lot of your baby’s learning. When she gets older you can progress to clicking your tongue, moving it from side to side and blowing raspberries.
RINGS The bright colours of the toy rings encourage infants to grasp and multiple colours help the child to learn to distinguish between two objects.
HAPPY SNAPS Babies and children love seeing photos, not only of themselves but of family and friends, which helps with recognition of faces and eventually names. Showing your baby a slideshow on your computer can be more fun than a book, as they listen to your commentary of what they are seeing.
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A game you can play from a birth is peek-a-boo. Hide your face then pop back into the baby's view, and say – 'Peekaboo! I see you'.
This game will not tire for years as it develops into hide and seek.
PARTY TOYS Loud, sparkly toys are not just for birthdays, they are cheap enough to bring them out for a few minutes of fun, or a good distraction on a long car ride.
DAD TIME It is important for both parents to make their child feel trust and security by giving them affection and attention. And it usually horrifies mum when the physically stronger dad throws baby up so high in the air, however it has been proven that children respond very well to feelings of exhilaration, only to end up in the comforting strong arms of dad.
FOOD FUN As taste is one of the five senses that babies have most control over, remember that for them the whole food experience is one of fun. Keep in mind when preparing food to keep it colourful and let them get messy.
RIDE ON Remember the feeling of independence, your first time behind the wheel of a car? Much the same for children, the discovery that there are so many ways to negotiate themselves around, helps develop confidence.
BOOKS Reading to your baby, even when they don’t seem interested in the pages or pictures, helps stimulate baby’s auditory senses. Rhythmic sentences’ and tone, with a soothing inflection will help your child to develop longer attention spans and the ability to concentrate.
Playdough! The best invention for kids to learn to invent and play on their own.
Balls! All though childhood, remember, if they ever say they are bored, just whip out a ball. Babies and toddlers will be fascinated with them.
Rhythm, play it loud! Bang, bang, bang! Hitting or pushing anything to make a noise is most defiantly fun for babies, but possibly not so fun for parents. Borrow the ‘loud’ toys from a toy library, and indulge your child’s curiosity to make loud noise but don’t keep it long enough to drive you mad.
Building blocks engage children in creative play, which helps a child socially, emotionally, and physically. In learning about the blocks size, shape, colour, numbers, patterns, length, and weight, it will help encourage cognitive development.