At this time of year, you may be thinking about buying a present for your little ones’ first festive season, or perhaps friends and family are asking for suggestions? If you are thinking of getting some new toys for your baby, you might want to consider their developmental stage for maximum benefit and fun!
NCT has been delighted to partner with John Lewis & Partners to provide bespoke professional development training for John Lewis Nursery Partners operating in Baby and Nursery departments across the country. They have a wide range of toys to help stimulate and engage your baby, from teething to play development aids, John Lewis Nursery Partners can suggest something for every stage of development.
Newborn babies are beginning to learn about the world and develop a relationship with their caregivers.
They instinctively seek out faces to gaze at and will even copy you if you stick your tongue out. At birth they can only see between 20-30cm in focus – the perfect distance to look at you when being held in your arms. As the weeks pass, they will be able to focus a little further, although they won’t fully see in colour until around 5 months old.
Before then they will enjoy looking at high contrast patterns such as black and white toys (take a look at these fab ones from Etta Loves), and this can help babies coordinate and strengthen their eye muscles.
From birth babies can begin having short periods of tummy time each day, perhaps lying on your chest, and eventually on the floor.
Younger babies may need encouragement and support for tummy time.
Tummy time helps your baby develop upper body strength, ready for rolling, sitting and crawling. It’s also important to give your baby a different perspective on the world and protect against flat heads caused by lying on their backs for too long.
Younger babies may need encouragement and support for tummy time, maybe by putting toys just out of their reach or propping them up on a tummy time pillow. Older babies will push themselves up and start to look around with more confidence and eventually start trying to roll over. Discover great toys for tummy time.
After a few weeks babies will be happy to lie on their backs and could be popped under a baby gym for a short while. The dangly toys above are great to watch and interactive gyms even have lights and sounds to stimulate baby’s sense of sight and hearing.
As your baby gets older, they can practise their reaching and grasping skills and build an understanding of cause and effect by trying to hit toys with their legs or hands. Search playmats and baby gyms.
Babies can start teething at any time during their first year, and this can cause discomfort for them. As early as 3 or 4 months old a baby might be able to grasp a teething toy and find some relief from biting on it. Some teethers can even go in the fridge as the cool sensation can be refreshing on those sore gums.
Holding teethers can encourage your baby’s fine motor skills and the hand to mouth movement will come in useful when it’s time for baby’s first solid foods around 6 months old. Teethers at John Lewis.
Play helps babies learn about themselves and the world around them and is a fundamental part of every child’s development. Once babies can sit up, they will be able to interact with more complex toys and might repeat actions over and over to reinforce their learning.
For toddlers you may want to consider toys that include letters, numbers, interesting shapes and bright colours which help encourage the development of cognitive skills, such as problem-solving and innovative/creative thinking. They can also be great fun for you to release your inner child!
Lastly, it’s worth remembering that babies are easily overwhelmed and will welcome regular opportunities to take a break so if your little one starts turning away or shows signs of tiredness, like rubbing their eyes, it might be time for a cuddle or a nap.