Category Archives: PRODUCTS & GEAR

reviews of baby products and baby gear

SHOES FOR BABY LEARNING TO WALK

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BABY WALKING SHOES

When baby masters the motor milestone of walking, it is time to buy baby shoes.  But, please do not buy just any baby shoes.  Prior to this moment, shoes were worn primarily for photo moments.  Now shoes need to be purchased that allow baby to move efficiently and have a textured sole to prevent slipping.  This allows her to master the motor skill of walking.  When purchasing shoes, take into consideration how the construction of the shoe effects the mechanics of baby’s walk.  This means parents should observe how the fabric, the sole, and the shape of the shoe effect how baby moves her body.  Thanks to the above video from SagetoSummit’s youtube channel, we can observe the skill in an infant’s new walking ability with soft-soled shoes vs. a stiffer shoe (in this video the stiffer shoe is made by NIKE).

STRIDE ANALYSIS OF A BABY LEARNING TO WALK

When you see your baby walking, look closely at his stride before and after you put a pair of shoes on him.  The term “stride” or “gait” refers to how the legs and feet move while walking.  When a baby learns to walk their stride can be a bit wide (feet are wider than hips).  This helps them feel balanced.  A wider base of support can be more stable than a narrow base.  Some babies learn to walk with their feet under their hips (a narrow stride), especially if they have received skilled movement lessons.

In the above video when baby wears the stiffer soled shoes  (NIKE baby sneakers) his stride gets even wider showing less balance.  When he wears the baby sneakers (stiffer sole) he also has to pick his feet up quite a bit to take each step forward.  This is because his ankle joint is not able to move as much due to the stiff material of the shoe.  If you have ever skied before, think about the feeling of wearing a pair of skis or snow shoes which do not allow for ankle movement.  You have to pick your feet up as this baby is doing in the video.  With the soft-soles shoes, the baby walks with more articulation (bend) in the ankle joint and a slightly narrower base of support.  As a result, with the soft-soled shoes baby walks faster due to his improved mechanics.  The baby sneakers slow him down.  Save them for the basketball court in another ten years and buy soft sole baby shoes for now.

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BABY SHOES FOR MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT


BATH TOY FOR BABY

blue rubber duck bath toy

RUBBER DUCK BATH TOY

One of the classic baby toys is the rubber ducky.  Babies love them.  Why?  Maybe babies like them so much because of their adorable face, or their small size is easy to manipulate with just one hand, and they float on top of the water.  These 2 inch long toys are easy to hold in one hand and chew on.  The wind-up bath toys have parts that may break off, are very heavy, and baby can not learn to manipulate them on her own.  Developmental toys such as the rubber duck invite the participation of the child in creating the activity.

RUBBER DUCK AT BABY SWIM LESSONS

Bring the rubber ducky to infant swim lessons.  It provides baby with a simple way to entertain herself when she is waiting for her lesson or resting during the lesson.  This is one of the best pool toys for baby because it floats, is easy for her to hold, and can be put in her mouth. If you have two or three different colors or styles it is beneficial for the swim time.  They float on the water near her as she learns to paddle with her arm. Then you pick her up to rest while handing her the duck.

BATH TOYS FOR BABY GIFTS

These adorable rubber ducks come in different colors and even different costumes which make for fun baby gifts.  These simple and inexpensive bath toys make great stocking stuffers for babies and can be tied on to the top of a baby shower gift in place of a bow.  Swimming pools offering infant swimming lessons often have quite a stock of these animals.  The variety include the cowboy rubber duckmermaid rubber duck, firefighter rubber duck, and the princess rubber duck.  Visit Partypalooza.com for pages of variations on these two inch bath toys.  A unique baby shower gift would be a collection of six different ducks.  This is one gift where moms are happy to receive more than one!


BABY TOYS: PUSH/PULL TOYS

a push/pull toy for a toddler

WHAT ARE PUSH/PULL TOYS ?

Push/pull toys are toys on wheels that move when pulled by a string or pushed by a long handle that resembles a stick.  Pull toys have a long string attached to them and are often in the shape of an adorable animal such as a duck, caterpillar, or dog.  The animal moves when the string is pulled and sometimes makes a sound suck as a clacking.  Push toys can be small and in the shape of an animal such as a duck or large and in the shape of a pram.  These toys are great for babies and toddlers who have mastered the motor milestone of walking.  The toys also stimulate baby curiosity and benefit babies not yet crawling.

PUSH/PULL TOYS DEVELOP BALANCE AND COORDINATION

a duck push toy on a stick

A Push Toy

Babies and toddlers benefit from the motor skill activity of pushing and pulling.  The benefits include improved  balance and coordination.  As baby pulls the string on a pull toy she turns in circles and must turn her body to observe the toy.  She learns to organize her body movement to allow for the action of pulling something and turning to observe it as she moves.  This requires a certain amount of dexterity.  Sometimes she shifts her weight onto one leg as she turns which develops balance.

Playing with a push toy, such as the above wooden duck on a stick by Bella Luna Toys, develops spatial awareness.  As they push the toy they learn to pay attention to the space in front of them where the toy is moving on the ground.  This develops the toddler’s ability to pay attention to what is going on in front of her so she may avoid colliding with other people and objects such as furniture and toys.  Children also develop dexterity as they adjust their body and movement in order to maneuver the toy around corners and through doorways.

 PUSH/PULL TOYS INVITE MOTOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT

alligator pull toy for babies and toddlers

A Pull Toy

Even before baby is able to push or pull the toy herself it can benefit her motor skill development.   The novelty of these toys for a baby is that they mysteriously seems to move and then stop.  Baby does not understand that her mother is pulling a sting or pushing a stick to create the movement.  She is intrigued by these toys.  Use a pull toy playfully with baby when she is close to learning the motor skill of crawling.  Try placing the toy just out of baby’s reach and then pull on the string to get the toy moving.  Baby’s curiosity will motivate her to to go after this moving animal.  She may figure out how to crawl one or two “steps” just to reach this toy.  Once she takes her first few “steps” she will crawl with more confidence.  Please include push/pull toys in your collection of developmental toys for babies and toddlers.


MORE STOCKING STUFFERS FOR BABIES

FIVE SENSORY STOCKING STUFFERS FOR BABIES

The development of a baby includes the stimulation of the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.  Choose baby toys that bring a variety of sensory experiences for baby play time and daily rituals.  These items are from one of our favorite online sites, Bella Luna Toys.

1.  BABY HAIR BRUSH

baby hair brush

The daily ritual of hair brushing becomes a sensory experience for baby when using a high quality brush with natural bristles.  Take your time and she will focus on the sensation of the brush against her scalp and through her hair.

 

2.  SILK PEEK-A-BOO CLOTHS

silk cloths for baby

Small cloths made of silk stimulate baby’s sense of touch.  These are great for the favorite baby game of peek-a-boo.

 

 

3.  KNIT BABY RATTLES

ice cream cone knit baby rattles

Ad a few knit baby rattles to your collection of baby toys.  The variation in texture from the hard wood or pewter of classic baby rattles provides a different sensory experience for baby.  Plus, the rattling sound stimulates baby’s hearing.  These yummy ice cream cone shapes are adorable!

4.  BABY LULLABIES

Baby Lullabies CD by Mimi Bessette

Connect with baby through your voice.  Learn some favorite lullabies that will calm her and facilitate speech development.  Exaggerate the words and she will enjoy watching you sing as your mouth and eyes make different shapes.  The senses of sight and hearing are stimulated by singing to baby.

5.  BABY BLOCKS

boat shaped blocks for baby

Wooden baby blocks in the shape of tiny boats stimulates baby play. The wood is a firm material for the sense of touch and the rocking action stimulates baby curiosity. The fun bright colors are also easy for baby to see.

 

Enjoy Baby’s First Christmas!

Photos courtesy of Bella Luna Toys.


STOCKING STUFFERS FOR BABIES

FIVE DEVELOPMENTAL STOCKING STUFFERS FOR BABIES

This holiday season, choose simple toys that invite motor skill development. Sometimes the most simple objects require the most use of baby’s body parts which facilitates the development of motor skills.  That is the real DIY!  Skip the expensive and space-consuming jumper and exersaucers and choose to “keep it simple and developmental.”

 1.  BABY RATTLES

baby rattles

For Newborns: Maraca Baby Rattle and Pewter Dumbell Rattles The maraca is the perfect first baby rattle.  The simple stick handle on this maraca rattle is perfect for their tiny hands to hold.  They can hear the swoosh of the grains of sand inside as they develop the coordination of their hand and arm for the motor skills of grasping and reaching.

classic pewter baby rattle

Classic Dumbell Rattle-made of pewter Prices vary depending on material.  The simple stick handle makes it easy to hold and the added weight of the pewter or silver develops baby’s strength.  This classic endures and makes a lovely family heirloom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  BABY’S FIRST BALL

Baby's first ball

The O-Ball

An excellent toy for the motor skill development of cruising.  At under $10, the O-Ball is our favorite first ball for baby.  It is lightweight and the small bars are easy for baby’s tiny fingers to grip.  Available at many baby toy retailers.

 

 

3.  BABY’S FIRST DOLL

first doll for baby that is part blanket and part doll

Waldorf Blanket Doll

A Waldorf blanket doll.  $22.  Part doll and part “blankie,” this is a perfect first doll for baby.  Approximately 11 inches long, it has a face and hands that are made of non-toxic materials safe for teething. The “blankie” makes it easy for an infant to carry and manipulate.  (Most dolls are not easily managed by baby until she is a toddler.) From  bellalunatoys.com

 

4.  LOLLACUP:  BEST SIPPY CUP

baby with sippy cup

A baby drinks from a Lollacup, a sippy cup with a straw.

 

Lollacup, which retails for about  $16, is  a new and improved sippy cup.  This is the newest and smartest sippy cup on the market.  It is made of BPA free materials and has a weighted straw so parents can teach baby to drink through a straw.  This skill is an important one in the development of a baby…and made in the USA!  Available from amazon.com or directly from lollaland.com

 

 

5.  JINGLE BELLS

baby rattle with bells

Babies enjoy bells

Bells, bells, bells.  Babies can not get enough of them.  They come inside a baby rattle, on a stick, or in a box.  You can find them in a music store in the toddler section, in baby toy selections, or make one yourself with a small box and a few individual bells.  At every stage of development you can find a baby toy with bells that she will enjoy ringing.

 

Enjoy baby’s first Christmas!

Follow me on Pinterest to discover more stocking stuffers for babies!

 

 


BABY GEAR: BEST SIPPY CUP

Baby drinks out of a Lollacup brand of sippy cup

Baby with Lollacup

INTRODUCING AN IMPROVED SIPPY CUP:  LOLLACUP

Several month ago I was watching Shark Tank, one of my favorite TV shows that provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to pitch their idea for a business or product to a group of venture capitalists.  If they are fortunate, they leave the tank with an investment.  One of the baby products pitched on the show that received an investment is Lollacup.  The husband and wife team who developed Lollacup excitedly observed their daughter drinking from a straw at the age of 9-months-old.  Their pediatrician recommended weaning her to a straw cup rather than a traditional sippy cup.  However, the liquid in these cups would always sink to the bottom of the cup while the straw would float up to the top.  The clever parents saw an opportunity to create a new and improved sippy cup and that is when they created Lollacup.  Lollacup is a sippy cup with a weighted straw so the straw sinks to the bottom of the cup with the liquid.  This cup makes it possible for baby to drink out of a cup with a straw, even when the cup is tilted.  The twist off handles make it possible to place the cup into a diaper bag side pocket for moms and babies on the go.  Lollacup is also made in the USA of BPA-free and phthalate-free materials and sports an adorable bird design that babies love.

DRINKING WITH A STRAW AND MOTOR SKILLS

Lollacup is the perfect cup to teach baby to drink through a straw.  The action of drinking with a straw is beneficial for both babies and adults.  Why?  Because the action of sucking uses the sphincter or ring muscles in the body.  When we use one ring muscle it activates all of the ring muscles.  This action of sucking is familiar to baby since this has been her technique for eating food from the bottle or breast.  The action of toning all of the ring muscles can be soothing because they feel it through their entire body, and this why babies feel comforted when they use pacifiers.  Sucking also uses more muscular action than a sippy cup, which is beneficial for speech development.  Make the sound of the letter “O.”  Exaggerate the sound, “OOOOOO.”  You make the same round shape with your mouth that you do with the action of sucking through a straw.

THE SIPPY CUP AND BABY POSTURE

In order to drink from the Lollacup or an ordinary sippy cup baby sits with good posture.  This is one of the differences between drinking from a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup.  Baby can still recline when using a bottle.  It is more difficult to recline with a cup.  At around 9 months old, the next step in the development of a baby is drinking in the upright posture.  When  baby holds the handles on a Lollacup or sippy cup, he connects his arms into his spine.  He coordinates his arms, hands, mouth, and torso as he moves the cup up toward his mouth to take a drink.  Observe the baby’s posture in the above photo.  He needs to sit up with good posture to drink from the cup, and holding the handles enables him to do so.

Photo courtesy of Lollaland.