Playtime is a natural part of every child’s experience — it’s a time to discover, learn, question, and explore! From the moment our little ones enter the world, they are ready to play. We as parents, family members, and loved ones are immediately tasked with helping them learn and grow. Toys designed with the intention to foster a child’s brain development can be found in many forms, from stacking cups and magnetic tiles to toys for sand and water play to wooden blocks and more. In an effort to help our children grow and have fun, we can approach purchasing these toys as investments into our little ones’ bright futures.
But which toys do you invest in? And when should you begin introducing developmental toys to your child?
Regarding brain development, science emphasizes that it begins in the womb. What a pregnant mother consumes affects her baby’s growth and development, but so does the interaction between her and the growing fetus. Singing, talking, and engaging the baby in the womb all play a role in the brain’s growth.
When the baby makes its big debut, so begins playtime. Here are some ways to foster your child’s development as they grow!
Sensory toys are great vehicles for exploring new textures and enhancing your little one’s social skills. Stuffed animals and plush dolls engage children in pretend play and offer them a source of comfort and companionship. Pretend play has a crucial role in a child’s physical, social, and emotional development. It takes creativity to spruce up the classroom when playing “school,” and taking on the role of teacher supports a child’s communication skills. Putting your child’s plush dolls’ arms through her dress involves hand-eye coordination, and assuming the role of “Mama” or “Big Sister” is quite the responsibility!
As your child physically grows, their toys should change to align with their physical and mental needs. Consider offering your child more activity toys as they grow — toys that offer a specific problem to solve, such as model trains, building blocks, toy planes, or racetrack cars. Activity toys foster problem-solving skills and expand your child’s creative thinking.
The instructions provided in a model plane kit offer your child the opportunity to strengthen their concentration and problem-solving skills, while painting the model plane provides a creative outlet. Activity toys can provide great opportunities for kids to socialize, as well — together, they can construct models, find solutions to problems, and learn from one another.
Your child’s development isn’t solely dictated by the toys they play with — the time you spend playing and learning with them can be just as crucial! By carving time out of your schedule each day to engage in active play with your little one, you’re helping them foster the skills they need to learn, grow, and develop.
By toddlerhood, children have the capability of performing basic kitchen tasks, such as stirring, pouring, and wiping up minor spills. Instead of preparing Sunday morning pancakes alone in the kitchen, including your little one in the prep! Your child can pour chocolate chips into the pancake batter or decorate the short stack with bananas. Kid-friendly recipes provide your child with an opportunity to build confidence in the kitchen, which can be a daunting task even for adults! While spending quality time with your little one, you can also solve problems, work on math skills, and reward yourself with a delicious homemade meal at the end.
If your little one isn’t quite ready to help out in a real kitchen yet, it’s worth taking the time to engage in pretend to play with them to help teach real-world skills. A play kitchen set and play food can help them learn the basics of cooking, and being able to mirror their actions through play.
When provided with an outlet, a child’s creativity can blossom to great lengths. Simple arts and crafts can be put together using everyday items found in the house. Gather up the construction paper, drinking straws, toilet paper rolls, empty tissue boxes, and crayons – these basic items can turn into windmills, masks, birds, hand instruments, and more! Don’t let rainy days isolate your child in front of the electronic screen – place a box of these everyday supplies in front of them, and together you can transform these odds and ends into a memorable finished project. If you have more than one child, or if you have your hands’ full babysitting, consider arts and crafts as a time to communicate, concentrate, and create something beautiful and fun.
Getting a head start on your child’s brain development relies on a pregnant mother’s diet and lifestyle choices. What an expecting mother consumes, her environment, stress levels, and physical activity all influence her fetus’ development. Once she has delivered the baby, breastfeeding is the best option, but oftentimes supplementing is needed. Whether or not the mother is breastfeeding, there are safe and affordable infant formulas available for babies to enjoy from the moment of their new arrival.
When selecting an infant formula, it’s important to consider its ingredients and the potential impact it will have on your newborn’s digestive system. Infant formula manufacturers have made it easy for families to choose the best option for their child with the availability of non-GMO formulas, soy-free formulas, and more.
Toys are fun tools that can positively impact your child’s ongoing development from the moment of birth. With so much emphasis on the investment that family members can make when purchasing gifts for children, we cannot forget the human value in the development of a child. Your time and attention are investments too! Don’t forget that during your child’s early days, you are their favorite playmate. And as they continue to grow, they will look to adults for guidance, advice, and information to the loads of questions that sprout from their curious minds!
Author Bio: Katie Tejada is a married mother of six (and an animal mom of 12). In her spare time, she enjoys writing about the unique world of motherhood, pet care, and marriage.
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