From the very moment of their birth, the inherent inquisitiveness of babies to learn and develop starts working naturally. However, much of the inspiration to use this faculty comes from constantly searching for things and situations that are provided by the parent/guardian. With this need in view, experts in baby care have designed astep-by-step range of
developmental tools like toys, and fun pastimes that at once entertain and stimulate the child along each developmental stage of his or her life.
Working Principle of Step by Step Toys
Step-by-step toys are based around the child's key skills at each stage of his/her growth. This means that if, for example, a child has learnt smiling as a first skill, playing with the step-by-step toys encourage more smiles in him/her. Similarly, if the child has grown six months old of age and is showing interest in picking up and grabbing objects, playing with the step-by-step toys will help in the development of the child's hand to eye coordination. The result is added skill-building growth for the baby. Since the key learning skills of a baby vary with progress in age, the step-by-step toys too are designed differently by considering seven age periods of baby growth. These stages range from birth to over three years of the baby's age and the befitting package of toys can be easily chosen (each package being marked with the specific age category). Each package highlights how it can help develop the key skills of the child. It matters then that the caring parent/guardian be aware of the seven basic categories of skill development.
Key Skills at Each Step
Following are the seven key skills categories that a child grows through the course of his or her formative years.
Stage 1: From Birth up to Three Months
Infants in this stage are just starting to respond to sounds and make their own noise. Later in this stage, they start tracking moving objects, and also they learn smiling in response to certain stimuli.
Stage 2: From Three Months up to Six Months
The baby now starts rolling from front to back, sitting with hand support, and responding to his or her name.
Stage 3: From Six Months up to One Year
During this stage the child starts sitting up without any aide, developing hand to eye coordination, and starting with simple communication with the care giver(s).
Stage 4: From One Year up to Eighteen Months
This stage marks the initiation of real physical activity for the kid. Crawling, starting to walk, building and exploring-all skills are developing here. Also, this stage is very important in that the child starts using language. He or she develops early vocabulary.
Stage 5: From Eighteen Months up to Two Years
Now you can see a normal kid climbing easy heights (beds, chairs etc.), dancing, early pedaling, scribbling, possibly looking at books (or magazines, games etc.) alone, speaking out short sentences, and recognizing his or her reflection in a mirror.
Stage 6: From Two Years up to Three Years
Now the kid is turning into a freak. You can see him or her walking independently, running, jumping, and balancing on one leg (though many normal kids may not be able to do so this early). The mental development at this stage is marked by longer periods of concentration, increased hand to eye coordination, larger vocabulary, the ability to draw with a fair degree of
precision, and the development of longer term memory through play.
Stage 7: Over Three Years
Signs of independence arrive as the child shows self-care skills along with balancing safely on each foot, hopping, skipping, constructing sentences, drawing a circle, understanding more complex commands, developing imaginative games and activities, and becoming skilled with numbers and letters.
Play Ideas for Developing Babies
Babies love to learn and respond through play. Some common play ideas for developing babies follow for caring parents/guardians.
For babies in the first skills category, simple games like peek-a-boo and this little piggy are great fun.
Just when the child starts showing interest in looking at books, magazines etc., take time to look at books together. Point to and describe the pictures, and tell simple stories of a few sentences.
Point to your body parts and those of the child, saying what they are e.g. 'this is my hand, this is your hand.'
Demonstrate to the baby simple cause and effect things like banging a spoon on a pan to show how sound is produced.
Animals are special attraction to most babies. Imitate animal sounds and let the baby practice them. This works especially well through reading certain baby poems like the Old McDonald's Farm.
To keep the child's budding physical activity growing, roll a ball between you and him/her. Allow the child to run after it and throw it about with force.