NEWBORN BABY TOYS
A baby needs time to learn the motor skill of grasping and reaching which is required to hold a toy and play with it. Even the most simple rattle takes time for a baby to learn to grasp in their hand and shake with their arm. Baby learns to hold a rattle for the first time around 2 or 3 months of age. What toys will a newborn baby enjoy if she can not hold one very well yet? The answer is simple: a toy with a very clear face on it. “Clear” means easy for the newborn baby to see. A newborn baby’s eyes can see high contrast best which is black and white. A face with large eyes in black and white will be easy for her to see.
Toys made from soft materials that can hand from the edge of a baby carrier or a stroller are fun for her to look at. Some play mats have an arch above baby’s head from which to hang these soft and colorful toys. Eventually she may begin to reach out a hand or foot to try and touch the friendly looking creature smiling down at her. Often they are in the form of insects or bugs such as caterpillars or bees. Sometimes the smiles are hidden inside of a flower. There are many creative options on the market today. Choose a couple of them for the newborn developmental stage. These toys also are practical and colorful baby shower gifts.
HOW TO CHOOSE A CAR SEAT FOR BABY
Safety is one of the top priorities of a parent when choosing a car seat. With several models available on the market that is no easy choice to make. Who do you listen to? Your friends, your mother, the reviews online? We recommend collecting as many pieces of information as possible. A car seat is one of the most important investments to make for baby’s safety. These photos show the Cosco car seat which was highly recommended by parent reviews on amazon.com as well as by the highly respected publication Consumer Reports. It is also helpful to talk with parents who have used a product for awhile rather than to someone who just purchased the product. Experience with a product over time may result in advice containing more pros and cons for your consideration. You may also want to ask the parent how the product suited the baby as she grew.
CAR SEAT AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF A BABY
Please choose your car seat with the consideration of baby’s development of bones and muscles. Today many car seats are on the market with little if any padding behind baby’s back. There may be padding under the hips and legs, but there may not be any padding under the back. It is extremely important to keep baby comfortable and cushion her developing bones and muscles. Try and purchase the product in a store or view one in person before ordering so you can take your hand and run it along the back of the seat. You should be able to push down and have the fabric spring back. If you push on it and you feel the hard plastic right under the thin layer of fabric then you know it is not soft enough for her to be comfortable.
Occasionally the padding may be asymmetrical from right to left side, which may lead to asymmetry in the skeleton if baby spends enough time in the car seat. Once in a while a piece of one of the straps may get stuck under the padding and cause discomfort to baby. Take a moment every so often, specially if she is crying in the car seat, and run your hand along the padding to see if anything is poking up which may cause pain. The above photo shows a well-padded portable car seat. Baby should be both comfortable and safe.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING A CAR SEAT:
- Read parent reviews on sites such as amazon.com
- Ask the opinions of other parents experienced with the product
- Research Consumer Reports studies on the product
- Consult teachers of infant classes
- See the car seat in person before purchasing
- Feel the padding with your hands to ensure baby’s comfort
A GREEN AND EASY TO CLEAN BABY BLANKET
Are you planning a forth of July picnic at the park with baby? Pack the Central Park Blanket by Skip Hop with you for an afternoon lounging on the grass or by the pool. One of our Stellar Caterpillar mothers spent a lot of time researching mats for her baby’s play time at the park. She wanted something made of a green material since baby would spend a lot of time on it. She wanted something that would pack up easily and be light weight to transport. And, of course, she wanted something that would be easy to clean. Skip Hop’s machine washable blanket met the mark on each of her requirements. It also has an insulated compartment which can keep food/drinks cool and it converts so you can carry it on your shoulder or as a backpack.
BABY PLAY AT THE PARK
Parks are wonderful developmental outings for babies. There is a lot to observe and a lot of space to move around in. There are many people to watch and lots of dogs, too. Babies can watch balls or frisbees fly through the air or watch the squirrels and birds move around looking for food. Sometimes there are other babies to meet and play with as well. This is a wonderful setting for carrying baby around and narrate what you see. For example, “Look at that squirrel! He climbed all the up the tree. Isn’t that tree very tall? See how high the branches go up toward the sky? You can introduce names of animals, colors, and concepts such as big and small or tall. In addition to watching activity, you can put baby down on her mat to explore the space around her. Motivated by her curiosity to touch the blades of grass, she may practice her motor skills of rolling or crawling to explore the space beyond the mat.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE PINCER GRASP
When babies reach the end of their first year milestones, one of the significant fine motor skills to learn is the pincer grasp. This is the skill of picking up something rather small or thin by using the thumb and first finger of the same hand. Often parents feed baby a bowl of cheerios to teach them this skill since baby has to pick up each tiny “O” with their thumb and first finger. One of the challenging aspects of this skill development is letting go of the object. For example, a baby needs to learn how to pick up the cheerio, put it in her mouth and then let go. Sometimes babies learn to pick up coins and drop them into a water bottle. However, coins are small and may be a choking hazard so a baby should only use coins when very closely supervised. In the photo below you can see the size of a real quarter next to the fake coins for this piggy bank. The larger coins are safer and good practice for developing finger dexterity. Soon, parents can closely supervise baby as she tries picking up real coins which will develop even more skill due to their smaller size.
PIGGY BANKS AND BABY DEVELOPMENT
One of the best baby toys to develop the fine motor skills of the pincer grasp and letting go of an object is the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn: Learning Piggy Bank. It is also a great toy to begin teaching baby how to count and colors for toddlers. In the above video from PunkFarter’s youtube channel, the baby is learning to pick up the coin and push it in the slot. It requires a considerable amount of finger dexterity to line up the coin with the opening. When this piggy bank is switched to one of the “on” settings, the pig counts when each coin is deposited, “1……2…….3,” etc. The second of the two settings plays a song which is to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.” I often encourage parents to do what they have done in the above video which is to either turn the toy off/remove the battery and create the sound effects yourself. Babies love to hear these unexpected sounds and may eventually may try and make the sound themselves!
PIGGY BANKS AND SPATIAL AWARENESS
The clear door on one side of this piggy bank allows baby to see where the coins go as she drops them inside. This is an important concept of spatial orientation. Babies learn the difference between an object being “inside the piggy bank” versus “outside the piggy bank.” When we learn spatial orientation we learn where we are in space and where objects around us are in space. Babies also learn to “open the door” of the piggy bank and to “close the door.” Let’s hope they also learn how to “save” versus how to “spend!”
WHEN TO STOP SWADDLING BABY
Newborn babies sleep very well when swaddled. The pressure of the fabric against their muscles and bones help them sense their bodies more clearly and they feel more secure as a result. This physical sensation created by the cloth fabric replicates the experience of being in the womb where baby feels pressure from the water. Parents learn to swaddle baby in order to quiet baby for naps and for sleeping through the night. Soon, they ask “When do I stop swaddling baby?” Many parents stop swaddling baby by the age of two to three months. As babies begin to learn to feel their limbs stretch and learn the early motor skill of rolling onto their tummy, the swaddling can be restrictive and potentially dangerous.
HOW TO STOP SWADDLING BABY
Transitioning baby from swaddling to no swaddling is not so easy sometimes. The key is to create a similar physical sensation for them of the pressure on their body which makes them feel secure without the restriction of the fabric wound around them. This concept is the idea behind a “sleepsuit.” The thickness of the fabric and the snug fit help baby feel secure so she can sleep through the night. A favorite sleepsuit is Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit. Designed to create a “cozy, calming, and safe sleep environment,” the Magic Sleepsuit is an excellent transition out of the swaddling. Developed by a pediatric physical therapist who is also a mother of four, the idea behind the magic sleepsuit was how to prolong the duration and quality of a baby’s sleep. One of the most important events in the development of a baby is sleep. With a good night of sleep on a daily basis they have more energy for their motor skill development. Next, we would like Magic Merlin to create a sleepsuit for tired mommies.
Baby Safe Disposable Feeder
BABY GEAR TO ASSIST WITH EATING SOLID FOODS
A teething feeder is a very simple and inexpensive baby product for parents with babies who are refusing solid foods. Just take a small piece of food and place it in the mesh container which has a ring on it for baby to hold. Baby will place the mesh surrounded piece of food into her mouth and suck on it. She will receive much of the nourishment of the solid food by sucking on it. When baby is having difficulty chewing and/or swallowing solid foods, this is an excellent option. The baby milestone of eating can be challenging for some babies and this feeder helps them through the transition. It is also great for introducing new flavors to baby’s diet and these feeders come with a convenient storage cap for travel.
WHEN TO INTRODUCE SOLID FOODS TO BABY
Recent research shows the best time to introduce solid foods to baby is at age six months. It is important not to introduce solid foods before baby is ready to sit up, chew and swallow the food. Foods that are a bit soft such as strawberries, banana, watermelon, or cooked zucchini are best to use with this feeder. Keep the food temperature not too hot or not too cold. Remember to always check with your pediatrician to see what foods are best for your baby.
FEEDING BABY ON THE GO
Parents are always looking for ways to feed baby when traveling. The teething feeder comes with a cap which allows moms to prepare the food ahead of time by placing it in the mesh container and covering it with a cap until it is time for baby to suck on it. This mesh cover also prevents choking hazards as you feed baby solid foods. The mesh keeps the solid part of the food from getting into baby’s mouth which can possibly cause choking. Sometimes both parents and child are easily distracted especially when outside the home environment, so always keep your eyes on baby when when she is eating.