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Educational toys and development

Useful information on the importance of using age appropriate toys to enhance your baby's development explained.
Play, whether it be general one to one with another child, time spent with a parent or that of an educational experience with specific toys and games can be hugely beneficial for a baby's development, whatever their age. In fact, play is essential in forming a child's physical, emotional and social well being.

When choosing educational and development toys for your baby it is important to focus their attention on toys that they are able to understand and appreciate. For example, a newborn baby's sense of hearing is much further advanced than their sense of sight, and, for the first 3 months of life, a baby's range of sight in no more than 8 to 10 inches. In both of these cases it makes sense to encourage an active involvement of toys and educational devices that play on a baby's age-specific strengths, making use of toys that will be appreciated and helpful to their appropriate stage of infant development. For example, between the ages of 3 and 6 months, play involving toys that make noise will encourage a child to reach and grab, stimulating their hand-eye coordination.

Although all babies differ when it comes to both their physical and educational development, there are several stages at which particular toys and play experiences are widely thought to be most beneficial and enjoyable. Newborns, up until 1 month old are alert for roughly one in every ten hours; during this time many appreciate soothing music and will react if under or over stimulated. At 2 months of age visual stimulation starts to begin, with sounds and objects being noticed and followed.

The period between 3 and 6 months really sees changes in the development of a baby's ability to understand and relate to certain actions. Faces and sounds become recognisable, and moving objects can be followed. At 4 to 5 months an interest in bright colours starts to emerge and babies become able to grip and move objects for themselves. Between 5 and 6 months an interesting development, especially when it comes to the introduction and interest of toys, is seen. It is roughly at this age that babies become able to focus on one toy at a time and learn to appreciate individual actions and movements a lot more.

Between the ages of 6 and 8 months, babies start to understand what to do with various toys and objects, and begin to respond to themselves in reflections. During this time many start to reach out for objects and begin to sit independently. At 9 months many children start to understand the concept of building objects. Here, by building lightweight toys up into towers and watching them tumble, the concept of big verses small is introduced as well as teaching your little one about different sizes and shapes. Also at this age, babies tend to develop the ability to move items from one hand to the other, allowing more advanced toys to be used.

Between 9 and 12 months the understanding of some language phrases develop alongside the ability to imitate sounds and noises. Here, imitation is another key activity that you can do with your child. Although most beneficial in later months, imitation is a key way to develop imaginative play alongside stimulating an active imagination for your child.

In the later months of a baby's first year of life, they really excel in terms of their understanding and use of noise to express themselves and their feelings. Another key development in terms of their play ability occurs as they start to initiate play with others with many really starting to enjoy the experience.

Stimulating and educating your child is important and can be very enjoyable. It can create a strong bond between parents and children and can have lasting effects on a child's development and in later years, their educational experience.
Author : Elizabeth Stansfield

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