SPONSORED CONTENT -- (StatePoint) The first few years of life are fundamental to cognitive, emotional and physical development. While every child progresses at their own pace, there are many toys and activities you can introduce to encourage growth. Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Tummy Time. “Tummy time” helps improve a baby’s motor skills and strengthens neck and shoulder muscles. Consider toys designed to foster this activity, such as the Tummy Time Discovery Pillow. This soft, crescent-shaped pillow goes beyond comfortable support for babies. Multiple textures, patterns, colors and a baby-safe mirror offer visual and tactile stimulation, while light-up piano keys introduce numbers, colors, shapes, animals, nursery rhymes and music. Use this not only during tummy time, but while babies are learning to sit on their own, and on the go.
2. Gym Day. Seek out toys that grow with your child to nurture each developmental stage, from birth-to-toddler. For example, the 7-in-1 Senses & Stages Developmental Gym is designed to support babies’ growth, build their muscles, and engage their minds and senses. With an included guide that explains how to use each play zone and accessory, you can make the most of its overhead arches, removable xylophone, tummy time pillow, sensory toys and image cards. Plus, you can even fold up the sides of the mat to create a soft, enclosed playful ball pit.
3. Story Time. A child is never too young to be read to. In fact, reading books to a baby is an excellent way to bond with them, introduce vocabulary, and help draw connections between pictures and words. While you’ll likely start out with board books and soft vinyl books comprised of simple words and phrases, soon you’ll be on your way to interesting storylines and fun characters, promoting a lifelong love of literature in the process.
4. Baby Steps. Look for adaptive technology designed to help with motor skill development and support the journey from sitting to crawling to walking. With the Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker by VTech, you can start with an easy-to-remove activity panel for floor play, then step it up with the fun-to-maneuver walker. It also includes spinning gears, piano keys, rollers, light-up buttons and a telephone handset to promote fine motor skills, while teaching shapes, colors, animals, music and more.
5. Outdoor Exploration. Encourage a curious mindset by regularly taking walks. Talk to your baby about the sights and sounds around you. Just be sure your stroller features adequate sun protection, storage space and maneuverability so that you’re well-equipped for excursions of all kinds. This is one great tradition to carry on as your child grows and begins to take steps on their own.
While ensuring babies reach developmental milestones is important, the good news is that it can be an opportunity to have fun and bond with your little one.