Monday, December 19, 2011

Gift Guide - Newborns

I thought I would put together a very simple and easy list of great toy ideas to get the new baby in your life. Though you may think that your newborn does not really play at such a young age, they are in fact absorbing their surroundings and getting to know the new world they live in. This is why it is very important that you stimulate all their senses and promote exploration.

Newborns are only able to see up to 12 inches away and what they see is blurry, they are drawn to faces, as well as high contrast images and colours. They do not have control of their motor skills but at around two months they will begin to discover their hands and begin to grasp objects. Newborns have a great sense of smell, sound and touch.

Given what we know about the world of a newborn, there are great toys that will encourage their development and allow them to learn about their surroundings.

A Mobile is a wonderful first toy, as it is just the right distance for baby to see. It promotes the development of baby's eyes, their ears if they have music, and brain, as baby is makes connections between what they see and hear. A great mobile is the Wimmer Ferguson Infant Stim Mobile, because it has high contrast colour images which newborns find attractive and parents can switch images around to keep their little ones entertained and engaged.

A Play Mat is another great toy for newborns, as it can be used for tummy time which strengthens baby's neck and back muscles. You don't need to get fancy with their play mat and I would not recommend ones that have a build in pillow that is supposed to make tummy time more enjoyable. The best you can do is introduce tummy time as early as possible, for short periods of time, more importantly you want to do it when your baby is alert and engaged. A great play mat is the Wimmer Ferguson Crawl and Discover Mat, as it comes in the all important high contrast colours of black, white and red. It has a mirror which is another of the great toys to get babies and you can attach grasping toys to it for baby to play with.

Music, babies have great hearing and they have been listening to your voice and the noises that make part of your world during their stay in the womb. Whether you play lullabies, nursery rhymes, classical or hip hop, having music around and moving with your baby to the music promotes brain development and bonding. It's also a great stress reliever for parents.

Soft Toys, specially ones with faces on them like stuffed animals are very important. These are great for sensory and emotional development. Two great soft toys are the Whoozit and Tizoo from Manhattan Toy. They each have a face with high contrast colours which are easy for babies to see and they also have great soft grasping toys on the side that baby can practice holding onto.
Grasping Toys, whether they are made out of wood, cloth or safe plastics, grasping toys are essential in promoting both fine and gross motor development. At around two months of age babies will begin to reach out to objects that are held a close distance from them. They will begin to discover their hands and it is important for parents to spend time helping them mastering this new found skill. I would recommend soft grasping at the beginning, as babies are not in complete control of their movements and can hurt themselves with wooden ones. Great options are the Haba Wrist Rattles, they can be attached to baby's wrist if need be or not at all and are very soft and the right size for little hands.

All the toy suggestions I have given are tools that parents and caregivers can use to promote their baby's development, but the most important toy is YOU. Playing, dancing, singing, cuddling, kissing, feeding are the most important things your little one needs.

Let me know if their is a toy your newborn loved. Or perhaps one they did not.

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