I’m sure I am not alone when I say that I would often wonder what I could be doing to help my baby’s development. Once my little one started staying awake for longer periods of time, I got a little overwhelmed, wondering if there was more I should be doing to encourage him to achieve important developmental milestones. The pressure is real!
From one experienced Mum to a new Mum or Mum-to-be, I will let you in on a little secret. You don’t need a lot of different types of toys or equipment to help your child learn. Besides the key few pieces that buy me precious moments to myself, we also use everyday items around the house to explore. For example, the leaves off a plant, birds in a tree, shadows on a wall, reflection off water. By looking out for these things, it also helps you to slow down, live in the moment and approach life with a child-like curiosity. It’s kind of fun when you give in to it.
With regards to the toys, I am here to provide some short cuts for you on what is available to not only encourage the development of your child but also help keep them entertained during playtime, for those occasions you would just like to finish that cold coffee you made over two hours ago.
Best baby toys for a baby’s development
The following toys can be introduced from as early on as infancy.
Interactive play gym
The play gym is such a handy toy/piece of equipment you can own with a newborn. The bright colours will attract your baby’s attention and inspire visual development from a very young age. The best thing for a Mum though? It’s washable, hallelujah!
The Little Archer & Co. activity play gym features an owl that rattles which helps to develop auditory skills. The toys have different textures, allowing your little one to stimulate different sensations with their fingertips.
It can be difficult to get your little one on-board with tummy time. Placing them on the play gym for tummy time and having the contrasting shapes and patterns to look at will help to keep them visually engaged. The more you’re able to extend tummy time for your newborn, the better. Tummy time is so important for developing neck, chest and back strength which are all muscles to help your baby reach important milestones, like rolling over and crawling. Our play gym comes with a small, boomerang pillow that can be used to help prop your baby up in those early days, this can also reduce the frustration for your newborn and keep them happier for longer.
As your baby matures, the play gym can boost intellectual skills. It is a great place for your child to move around freely, discover cause and effect and improve their knowledge of shapes, colours, sounds and patterns.
Interactive play socks and wristbands
There are so many benefits for both you and your little one with the Little Archer & Co. interactive play socks and wristbands. For the parent, they aren’t too loud and can’t be thrown or strewn across the house. This is perfect for when out and about or for travelling in the car.
The high contrast black and white stripes on the socks are great for infants as black and white can stimulate the optic nerves in those early days without causing overstimulation. Watch as your little one focuses on the pattern and tries to follow it as it moves.
The light jingle of the wristbands and crinkle of the bug wings will keep your baby enthralled as they further develop their sensory and auditory skills. These sounds are soft and won’t be overwhelming for your young baby.
As your baby grows, they will continue to enjoy the challenge of having these toys attached to their arms and legs as they try to work out how they are moving and trying to grab them. This is great for that cause-and-effect cognitive development, initiating the pincer grip (that is, grasping with thumb and forefinger) as well as improving their knowledge of colours, shapes, sounds and patterns.
Best developmental toys for toddlers
While you can certainly introduce these toys at any age, it is after their first year that these toys will help to accelerate your toddler’s development.
From 12 months old, your tot will begin to stack two blocks together and as they age, they will learn to stack more and more blocks together. Having these stackable blocks is excellent practice to develop their hand-eye-coordination. They can process the visual cue and translate it to a movement with their little hands. Furthermore, the skill we have as adults that enables us to use cutlery or write with a pen is thanks to fine motor skills. These start to develop from a very young age and something as simple as stacking blocks is very useful to grow this skill.
Stacking blocks is an activity that presents your child with a ‘problem’ where they must figure out how to get block A to balance on block B. Your child will exercise a lot of concentration while they develop problem solving skills to achieve their desired result. You can be involved and model how it is done but once you have shown them a few times, we recommend giving your child the chance to learn for himself as problem solving is a valuable life skill.
The benefit of the Little Archer & Co. stacking blocks is that there are a variety of sizes which enables your toddler to build different structures. This not only creates more opportunities for problem solving but becomes an activity where they can express their creativity and imagination.
We recommend scooters from the age of two years and older. Get rid of the stroller for short walks and help your child practice their gross motor skills. At this stage of your child’s development a scooter is great for practicing balance, core stability and coordination. The Little Archer & Co. toddler scooters have three wheels, two at the front and one in the rear which make it the perfect starting point for your toddler to practice their balance.
The toddler must lean to steer the scooter which encourages coordination and awareness of their body as they shift their weight from side to side to turn.
The scooter is also a great way for your toddler to burn off some energy. Start out with short trips or using it around the house and as your child gets older, they will be able to go further. This scooter will grow with them with the adjustable handlebar height.
Balance and coordination are valuable skills that will improve your child’s confidence while also improve their performance in sporting activities as they grow.