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Ways to help a child's development


A child's development starts from birth and with their senses;  gradually they see different shapes, colour etc., hearing is stimulated by music, sounds in their surrounding etc. and they will gradually be able to recognise different voices. They also learn by touch, starting with cuddles and contact with other people.

Development progresses as they get older and their curiosity increases and, therefore, it is very important to ensure everything is done to stimulate all senses.

Their are a lot of nerve endings in our mouths, this is how babies learn by putting everything in their mouths and between three and six months old their hand-eye co-ordination also improves;  they follow and reach out for moving items.

Introducing different textures into a child's surroundings and playthings will encourage good brain development and curiosity.

There are many toys available that are designed to stimulate whilst in use;  these include those that makes different sounds including music, have moving parts or combine different textures e.g. smooth and ridged plastic or a combination of fabrics such as velvet, fur, leather, suede, wool etc.  Take a look at our article on how to choose the best toy for each age group.

Purpose made teethers are useful as and when babies start teething and it is never to early to start looking at fabric or board books.  Even though they will not understand they will soon be aware of the bright colours and feel of the book and it creates a source for the 'reader' to introduce words and, thereby, increase vocabulary over time.  It is also a very good excuse to enjoy a cuddle and spent precious time with the infant.

As baby gets a little older more intricate playthings can be introduced e.g. wooden puzzles, large building blocks, pull along toys.  These help improve and develop motor control as well as hand-eye co-ordination.

There are many books available these days that encourage interactivity by having inserts which provide a different tactile experience.  Babies/toddlers can be encouraged to rub their fingers over the relevant material as you describe it e.g. furry, smooth etc. which improves sensory skills as well as vocabulary.

It is, however, not necessary to spend money in order to encourage a child's development as there are a vast number of household items which can be used but safety must be paramount;  choose items that pose no threat of choking (as we all know babies and children explore everything with their mouths) also look out for sharp edges e.g. a broken plastic, disposable cup can have sharp edges as can a sheet of paper).

When we were young (many years ago) we were given upturned saucepans, wooden spoons and clothes pegs (amongst other things) but things have changed considerably since those days.

Possible suggestions are:-

smooth, plastic containers, cushions, rugs, towelling, sponges (be careful to choose one that cannot easily be picked apart) cardboard boxes or tubes (but keep an eye on them so that they don't suck them too much), empty plastic bottles that have been thoroughly washed out and left to dry. 

When playing outside they can be allowed to feel the grass, large stones, sand, and a small amount of water in a container into which they can place their fingers to feel the water (with supervision).

If they are being supervised you can make 'musical' instruments by placing dried pasta into sealed plastic container for them (or you) to shake.

Learning can be fun for both child and parent and, in my opinion, it is the time spent together that is most valuable for both parties.

WARNING

Safety should always be paramount where babies/children are concerned and, therefore, use supervision and caution at all times to ensure the child remains injury free.

Check for any small, loose parts that could cause choking and ensure there are no sharp edges.

Toys should be kept clean especially if they are being shared with others or if your child has been ill.


 


  • Take a child into any room and point out all the different items.  Tell them what it is called and what its use is.

Thank you BCWWV

  • At the end of each day get down on your hands and knees and get your toddler to help you pick up the toys and put them back where they belong.   This helps them realise they have to clear up what they take out, that each thing as a place to go and also teaches co-operation.  Also getting down to their level helps you to see potential hazards, like loose change etc.

Courtesy of a 27 year old mum who is a paramedic by trade.  Many thanks.

  • When I get my son dressed in the morning I choose two outfits, then let him choose which shirt he wants to wear.  I then dress him in the shirt of his choice and the matching shorts/pants.  This way he is learning to make choices and expanding his vocabulary at the same time.

Many thanks to Kathleen Natsch who is obviously far more organised that I used to be.  My children had to wear what was washed and ironed at the time.

  • If you have a child afraid to go to bed because of "monsters".  Get a can of room deodoriser spray.  Tape a paper around the can labelled "Monster Spray" or "Monster Repellant" or somesuch.   When it is bedtime, tell the child you are going to spray the "Monster B-Gone" to scare away all the monsters that may be in there.  If the child is old enough, let him/her do it.  This works wonders, especially since the smell is "evidence" the spray is working.  Exercise caution with asthmatic children.

Thanks to Jill Swigart for this one.


 

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