Posts Tagged ‘gross motor skills’

Best Learning Toys and Activities for Young Toddlers

Friday, August 15th, 2014

269Hooray! You have a walking toddler who can get into everything. This is a great time to start working on fun, learning toys and activities with your little one. Many parents are overwhelmed with the gifts their little one receives at their first birthday. Use this occasion to request learning toys. These toys will get plenty of use and can be passed down to younger siblings in the future.

Here are a few of my favorite toys for this age:

1. Play Kitchen: My daughter was lucky enough to get a hand-me-down kitchen for her 1st birthday. The kitchen, complete with a microwave, dishwasher, and oven, was her favorite toy for months. Toys that encourage make-believe play are fun for little ones and parents alike. Children at this age love to show emotion and please their parents. My daughter loved to make me some fake food and have me sample it.

2. Puzzles: Peg wooden puzzles are a great toy to encourage learning in a young toddler. Most of these puzzles come with large knobs, perfect for little hands, and some even make sounds. Choose a puzzle that has a theme that your little one seems to enjoy. My daughter loves puzzles still at 23 months. She is very into airplanes, trucks, etc., so her favorite puzzle right now contains these objects. Remember that your little one may become frustrated, so start slowly with just 1 or 2.

3. Ride-On Toys: This is the age where little ones can start exploring ride-on toys. These toys help with gross motor development. There are so many you can choose from and for a variety of prices. My daughter received a Little People Shopping Cart at 16 months. At first, she was a little skeptical. Now, she rides on it almost daily and pretends she is on the phone at the grocery store.

4. Crayons and Coloring Books: Hooray for crayons! Crayons are a fun, cheap toy that little one this age enjoy. Remember to get washable ones, however. Pick a fun coloring book out for your little one and encourage them to scribble on the page. Coloring has been known to improve fine motor skills, and it’s also very therapeutic and peaceful for mom.

1. Board Books: You can never have too many books for a 12-18 month old. No mom wants to read the same thing over and over. Choose a variety of books. Books that focus on first words are a great toy to start with. Touch and feel books were my daughter’s favorite. Lift-the-flap books and hidden picture books are fun, as well.

So, moms, what were your favorite learning toys at 12-18 months? Remember, learning can be fun!

Karyn is a mom of one and one on the way. She still reads several books a day to her daughter and makes weekly trips to the library to get new ones. 

Is Crawling Important?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Is Crawling Important?We all want our babies to reach milestones “on time” and can sometimes forget that babies move at their own pace. Crawling is one of the major milestones that we can easily compare with other babies the same age and having a late crawler can be a little disheartening or worrisome. It’s important to remember that babies have their own time line and we can encourage them but they won’t hit milestones until they’re ready.  Is crawling really important or is going straight to walking perfectly fine?

Crawling is a lot more than just getting from point A to point B. The actual mechanics of it stimulates different areas of the brain, organizing neurons, creating important pathways and increasing communication between the left and right side of the brain.  It also happens to be their first attempt at hand eye coordination, which is especially important, as they get older for reading, writing and sports.

According to an article by Ohio Health many children are meeting their motor milestones later because of the push by the American Academy of Pediatrics to discourage letting babies sleep on their tummies. Since babies spend less time on their bellies their upper bodies aren’t developing enough strength for traditional hand and knee crawling.  The only way to strengthen those muscles are to spend more time doing tummy time and trying to make it as enjoyable as possible for them to be on their belly.

If your baby is a late crawler, don’t fret, there are lots of things you can do to encourage them to crawl. Babies love going through things, so those fun tunnels you’ve seen around serve a great purpose, or you can make your own tunnel obstacle course out of cardboard boxes. Playing hide and seek and chase are also fun games that encourage crawling. Keep on trying and making it fun for both of you!

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.



Can Music Make Your Baby Smarter?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Can Music Make Your Baby Smarter?Of all the activities my three-year-old daughter and I have done together music classes have been one of the most enjoyable. When she was four months old I enrolled her for a summer session of Music Together. We’re just finishing up our fourth semester, and I have already signed up for the next one.

The classes themselves have been a lot of fun, but watching her flourish musically has been amazing. She bops to the music, memorizes all the songs, makes up her own words and loves playing instruments. One of the great things about most music classes is that there’s usually no age restriction, so you can start as soon as you feel ready. Even though most of the classes are somewhat structured, children are encouraged to participate and have fun so you don’t have to worry about a short attention span.

Some of the most popular music classes are Music Together, Musikgarten, Kindermusic and Gymboree. While they’re all slightly different, they tend to follow the same basic style. Each class focuses on parent-child involvement, letting them play instruments, vocalize at different pitches, sing fun songs with accompanying movements, and make rhythm a whole-body sensory experience.

The babies and toddlers are just having fun, but they’re doing so much more. Babies will respond to music by making their own sounds, advancing language and vocal development. Lots of movement, including dancing, rolling, marching and kicking helps develop gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are used when they grasp and release instruments and move them from hand to hand. Being around other babies and parents also gives them an opportunity for social development.  Studies have shown that babies who participate in interactive music classes smile more, communicate better, and show a more sophisticated brain response to music.

Some of the music programs have strict start and stop dates, but others will let you join at any point in time. Gymboree even offers a free trial class so you can see how your baby responds to music before signing up. Music is such a fun way to learn– you’ll both have a great time making music together.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.