All babies are born with the ability to soak in information (like a sponge soaks in water), if we do not stimulate these infants from an early age (once their eyes are in focus and they are interacting with the parent), we have potentially lost an ‘Einstein.’ Not only do we need to ‘feed’ the cognitive skills of the brain, but we also need to help them develop their motor skills by giving them bright objects/toys that make them want to try to do certain things – thus improving their hand/eye coordination.
From birth to twelve months
This period of the babies life (lets say its a boy) is spent getting to know the features and voices of his parents, he can already grasp and hold onto small items like a rattle or bottle etc. Within a few months he can understand the concept of the game ‘peek a boo’ and will grin and laugh every time he sees his parent playing this form of hide and seek with him. By six months he can hold his own head up, roll over onto his tummy (or back) and reach for items that have been placed near him.
Now we can start with the different toys available for this age group:
- * sponge balls (easy to wash regularly) – all colors, not too small (we don’t want him swallowing any) just large enough to fit his little hands
- * blocks (wooden or plastic) – all colors, shapes and sizes (be aware of what paint is on the wooden blocks, as everything a child grabs gets chewed)
- * pots, pans, wooden spoons and pot lids – he will just love the noise these items make, and trying to fit a lid to a pot can take a lot of practice – but believe me he will get it right (some babies get very frustrated with this and tend to throw a tantrum)
- * something musical – all babies love music and there are a lot of different toys out there that are suitable for this age group – find one that suits you and the baby (a xylophone is pretty cool)
- * boxes (preferably plastic – I used Tupperware) – put a few of these in front of him (with his blocks and balls) and watch him spend a long time putting odd items into them and then removing them. You can find a toy that does exactly this, it has different shape holes around the sides and the blocks are shaped to fit into a unique hole.
- * flash cards – made of wood or heavy plastic (laminated paper is not a option here as the child will cut his mouth /lips with these) with pictures of animals and shapes in bright colors. These can be used just as play-toys or a parent could spend a hour or so with the child teaching him words, colors and shapes – it is really amazing how interacting like this improves the child’s memory and vocabulary.