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 duck, mermaid 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!
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 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Waldorf Blanket Doll
DOLLS FOR BABIES
When I teach motor skill classes for moms and babies, the most popular baby toy in the room for both boys and girls is usually my doll. Babies love human faces, and they love to look closely at the face on a doll. They hold it and touch the eyes, kiss the face, and eventually put one of it’s hands into their mouth. Moms usually ask, “What kind of doll should I get for her?” This holiday season consider buying a Waldorf Blanket Doll which is a perfect first doll for baby. A cross between a doll and a favorite blanket, this doll is easy to manipulate and carry around. It is perfect for newborn babies up to age two and at eleven inches long it makes a great stocking stuffer. It is a Fair Trade Toy and is made of natural materials that are safe for teething. It also makes a unique baby shower gift.
This blanket doll is part of a group of dolls known as “Waldorf Dolls.” Developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf Education is a method of educating children through teaching academic subjects in a dynamic and pictoral way with the goal of fostering internal motivation for learning and discovery. Waldorf schools are often very brightly colored, cheerful, and full of activity. Waldorf toys are designed to invite imagination into play. Stellar Caterpillar highly recommends the online retailer Bella Luna Toys for purchasing toys for babies and children. The Waldorf dolls are made of non-toxic materials and are designed with embroidered faces that have minimal expression so the baby can use her imagination to see a variety of expressions such as laughing or crying. In comparison, hard plastic dolls have fixed expressions. Sarah Baldwin, founder of Bella Luna Toys, is an experienced Waldorf teacher and mother. Please read her article “An Introduction to Waldorf Dolls” for more information. This holiday season, Bella Luna Toys is a great resource for toys fostering motor skill development and creativity.
FLOOR TIME AS BABY PLAY
Babies learn their motor skills through lots of baby play. Floor time provides opportunity for play and exploration of movement. In the above photo Zizu spends time on her tummy and discovers the benefit of pressing the hands down into the floor while lifting her head. Zizu feels this advantage and will continue to repeat the movement which both strengthens her arms and prepares her for the motor skill of crawling. This is just one example. A baby may pick up an interesting rattle and while curiously examining it she may roll onto her back. This is the beginning of the coordination of the motor skill of rolling. It begins with baby curiosity and the floor space to explore both the toy and her own body movements. An important parenting tip is that floor time should always be supervised and toys should be age appropriate.
FLOOR TIME AS BABY EXERCISE
Time on the floor also provides the opportunity for baby exercise. Kicking and reaching arms and legs, pushing hands into the floor, rolling, and belly crawling use babies muscles in a manner that is equivalent to a “gym workout.” The key is that they move themselves. Motivated by their curiosity, once they “try a new move” they are intrigued and want to repeat it a several times. Play mat time offers great exercise for baby! And yet another benefit of baby exercise is the prevention of obesity. We discussed this in one of our previous posts by examining a Wall Street Journal article from 2011. This article encouraged reducing sedentary activities with baby (time in car seats, strollers, bouncy seats and watching TV) and increasing floor time on a baby play mat as part of an anti-obesity campaign in England.
TOP 5 BENEFITS for baby OF FLOOR TIME
- Fosters improved motor skill development
- Develops balance and coordination
- Creates time for baby curiosity and exploration
- Provides opportunity for baby exercise
- Follows anti-obesity campaign parenting tips
When developing baby’s first library please include a few counting books. One of Stellar Caterpillar’s favorites, of course, is Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” We love all things caterpillar because it is a symbol of both articulated movement and transformational growth. In Carle’s book the caterpillar of the story has a big appetite prior to going inside his cocoon and eventually breaking free as beautiful butterfly. Several pages in the book are designed to help baby learn to count. They are cleverly shortened and each item of food has a hold punched in it to assist in counting. This uses baby’s sense of touch to learn counting. As you model the touch by taking your index finger and poking each of the holes as you say “1, 2, 3,” she will soon learn to touch the holes in the same way. The variation in page width engages baby’s curiosity and one of the reasons young infants love this baby book.
The story is about the caterpillar’s appetite. The reader counts the foods, both healthy and unhealthy, that he eats. There is a subtle message about baby health and how eating green foods make you feel better as the caterpillar recovers from a binge on pie, cake and other sweets by eating a nice big green leaf. Another subtle diet message is about the need to eat in order to grow. The caterpillar’s appetite turns ravenous prior to the creation of his cocoon. This is useful as baby enters the toddler years and embraces her strong will at the dinner table with forceful expressions of “No.”
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is also a very colorful book. The prominent colors are bright colors that baby sees easily: red, green, yellow, and blue. For the young babies, point out the colors and as you name them, “Red.” Watch the beautifully animated video above from Mandy Banester’s youtube channel, and you will see the colors of the story are the bright colors from the natural world around us. Colors include those of the sun, plants and beautiful fresh fruits.
With every book you read to baby, find two or three words that are simple first words for baby. Each time you read the book, say those words clearly to her and invite her to repeat them. A few easy words in the caterpillar story are egg, sun, leaf, and apple. This is the beginning of speech development for baby. With repetition, she will enjoy saying the words too!