Play Time: Age appropriate toys & activities for your child

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Today’s market offers a variety of toys that are so wide that you can easily get lost in the toy store.  To help you out distinguish between what is necessary, appropriate, useless, and overly expensive,  every month, we will provide you with a guide for appropriate toys and activities for a certain age group. Within that guide, you will also learn about the developmental milestones your child is going through.  So go ahead and enjoy your time playing with your little ones.

 

Part One: New Arrivals ( 0-12 months)

During this first year, you will witness so many changes in your baby’s development. All parents are amazed with how "fast" their babies are growing and how their skills are developed. Typically, the first year is broken into 4 parts.

 

Birth-3 months:

Not much is expected from a newborn baby.  They need gentle head and neck support at this point, and they discovered little about the world around them.  Usually, newborns are still adjusting themselves to the new environment at that age.  So what you can do is help them discover the world through their senses (leaving out taste for later).  Newborns might take several seconds to respond to you, so be patient, and sometimes they might seem unresponsive at all, give them time; also remember that they are still nearsighted.

 

Toys:

·        Music Tapes, CDs, or Music Boxes: Anything that plays soft lullabies will make your baby happy and enhance his sense of hearing. "Lullabies have a proven track record for soothing infants"

·        Unbreakable Mirror: The kind you can attach to the side of the crib or the carseat.  Babies find it very interesting seeing their reflection in the mirror.  Try putting a mirror in front of a crying newborn and see how will she react; you might be surprised that it will grab her attention.

·        Soft Books:  There is no better way to raise a good reader than to start early. Newborns find the patterns of high contrast (i.e.black & white) interesting, and will get introduced to the idea of a book.  The best ones are made of fabric or plastic for bath time, and may have pages that make a crackling sound or sometimes a part that can be used as a teether or that squeaks.

·        Soft and Handheld Toys: Though your baby might not reach out and grab yet, you can hold the toy for her. Toys that squeak, tweet, or even imitate the heartbeat are all good stimulators for her senses.

·        Mobiles for Cribs: Those are usually musical, but there are also plenty of varieties.  Some come with a remote control so you can stop/change the melody, others have different tunes. Whichever you decide on, the ones with hanging toys made of fabric are better than the hard plastic ones in case it accidentally drops.  Also choose ones with high contrast colors rather than pale pastels to grab baby’s attention.

·        Wrist/Sock Rattle: These are tiny rattles that you attach to the baby’s wrist or ankle so they make a sound when she moves. The purpose is to make her aware of her body parts, however, some newborns and parents too find them annoying.

Activities:

o       Dancing:  Soft swaying is very soothing for newborns. Try a nice tune that your baby enjoys and you will find it a relief for colic and upset little tummies.

o       Show & Tell: Explain to your child everything you are doing.  If you are undressing her or giving her a bath, let her know what you are doing. Also when you are out on a walk or in the car, point out to things around you and tell her what they are and what they do.

o       Singing: You don’t need to be a diva in order to sing nursery rhymes.  Sing to your baby, and try to sign the words of the song as well with your hands.

o       Baby Massage:  You will need a professional DVD or course for that, but one of the most stimulating and fun activities you can do with your baby is giving her a massage.

o       "What’s over my head?": Get soft ribbons, or a scarf and put it on your head, then let it slide on baby’s hands.  Let it bounce up and down making noises like "boing boing".  Babies love those silly games, and you don’t need any special toy to accompany it.

 

  

 

3-to-6 months:

Babies at this age start to discover using their hands.  They can reach, grasp, chew, and pass an object back and forth from one hand to the other.  Make sure you never leave any strings or elastic bands lying around your baby as they can cause accidents.

 

Toys:

  • Teethers:  The best ones are soft and have different textures for gum relief and tongue exploration.  Put them in the fridge for extra gum relief, but NOT the freezer; its temperature is far too cold for baby.
  • Rattles: All kinds!! From the soft ones that can squeak and crackle, to the old key ring, they are all fun fun fun!
  • Activity Mat:  Essential!!  You can take them anywhere with you to provide a clean floor and fun activity for your baby.  Some mothers are reluctant to put babies on the floor or on their tummies, but it is an essential part of their development.  It strengthens their back and necks muscles and make them see the world differently.  Some of these play quilts come with toys to be attached on top to form what is called an activity center. 
  •  Soft Stuffed Animals: Most babies can start preferring a cuddly toy at this age.  Make sure that it is soft, and that its fur isn’t long.  There are ones made of organic cotton in the market now, that are suitable to avoid allergies and dust.
  • Squeaky Rubber Toys
  • Activity Bars: These are used to attach to a baby’s carseat, crib, or baby bouncing chair.  Your baby can reach and pull on the different toys attached to it and you can take it with you anywhere to keep
  • Board Books: These are books that are made of hard pages to resist drooling, chewing, and messy hands.  There are also books made of soft plastic and cloth.

 

Activities:

    • Smell my hand:  While you’re in the kitchen, try rubbing some spice like cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, or peppermint on your hand and bring it close to your baby’s nose.  Watch her expression as she sniffs the different smells and see if she prefers one over another.  You can try other stuff like a light cream, or oil too. Keep away from very strong smells though.  You can also look for "scratch and sniff" books.
    • Bubbles!!  Nothing beats the old fashioned bubble game.  You can take it with you everywhere to calm your baby when she is fussy while waiting at the doctor’s or elsewhere.  It enhances the baby’s eye coordination as she tries to follow the bubbles around.  There are now bubbles in color believe it or not! A magical invention, but not yet available in Egypt.
    • Fly Baby:  You can gently start flying your baby over your head (without throwing her!!). Dads are usually great at this. Try making sounds while doing that.
    • This Little Piggy (or 2adi el beida)
    • Tummy Time: Go down on the floor with your baby and explore the world from her perspective while lying on her tummy. (You’ll be surprised to find so many lost toys, stuff, and maybe even dust that you never thought existed!)
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