One of the tasks of early parenting is to stimulate your baby to ensure optimal development of your baby. In the book Baby Sense, I outline four elements to keep in mind, using the acronym TEAT:
Time – Choose the right time to stimulate your baby when she is in the calm-alert state.
Environment – Without any toys your baby’s environment can be stimulating – walks in a carrier or a trip to the beach are wonderful environments for little ones to learn from their world.
Activity – Activities such as a Mom and Baby group or a baby massage group are also a fabulous way to not only stimulate your baby but also to engage and connect.
Toys – The final letter (T) in the acronym to stimulate your baby is through the use of Toys and Games.
Tips on Toys
• The simpler the better – the best toys are those that allow your baby to create and discover themselves. A simple pot and spoon is a wonderful toy. Imagine all the things your baby can do – make sounds, discover rhythms, put something inside the pot or turn it upside down. She can also sit on a pot or put it on her head as a hat. You can see that a simple pot and spoon offers a wonderful opportunity for learning and creativity.
• Offer only 4 toys at a time – Even if you have a wonderful array of toys, limit the number of toys you give your baby at one time. This encourages her to explore the qualities of each toy properly and usually results in more constructive and imaginative play.
• Make sure the toys you offer are age appropriate and safe. Under the age of two, you need to seriously watch for small parts that can be choked on.
• Technology is not a toy – it is tempting with all the wonderful apps that are out there to offer your tablet or smart phone to your baby as a source of stimulation. The problem is that reliance on technology results in less creativity and poor motor skills as these areas are not challenged at all. In addition, research has shown that playing with technology or watching TV under the age of 2, stunts language development.