There’s nothing like becoming a parent to reset your priorities: where once you had personal milestones to achieve, now you have baby milestones to tick off. It’s no surprise then that, according to a survey of parents by VTech Baby, 86% of us say our idea of milestones changes once we have a baby.
And it happens to even the most driven of us, as Ellen White, former England Lioness, new mum and face of VTech Baby’s The Magic of Milestones campaign, can testify. “Having a baby changed my focus,” she says. “It’s so wonderful to see Maeve as she grows and develops – such a delight to watch as she achieves the big milestones, such as sleeping through the night and sitting up, but also the small moments of magic, like a little smile.”
All babies naturally progress from milestone to milestone but play is a valuable way to turbo-charge their physical and mental development. And if you’re looking for toys to encourage milestone-specific play, the VTech Baby range has plenty for you to choose from, each of them designed to stimulate your child at particular stages of their growth.
Read on to learn more about your baby’s key milestones, and how VTech’s toys can help you reach them.
Lifting their head
A newborn's neck muscles aren't very strong at all, but you can help to develop them by planning short bursts of tummy time into your baby’s day. Spending time lying on their tummy will gradually improve their neck control and strengthen the upper-body muscles they’ll need to lift their head on their own, then keep it steady. This milestone will also help them progress towards other big moments, such as pushing up, rolling and crawling.
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If you want to help your baby develop their head control, VTech’s 4-in-1 Tummy Time Fawn is a soft pillow that offers 4 ways to play between 3 and 36 months. In the earlier months, it’s ideal for tummy time, as they can lie across the fawn and play with the detachable hippo rattle, fox mirror and musical piano, which are designed for both visual and tactile stimulation. Later, the fawn will also support sitting, take-along and on-the-go play as your child grows.
Crawling usually happens between 6 and 10 months, but not all babies are the same and some can even skip this step altogether. Instead, they might start ‘bum shuffling’, or just holding onto things and pulling themselves up into a standing position. Either way, the most important thing is that your baby is beginning to strengthen the muscles that will eventually allow them to stand and walk by themselves.
There are many ways you can encourage your baby to crawl, but VTech’s Explore & Discover Roller is great for aiding the transition from sitting to crawling, as they can roll and follow it around the room. Suitable from 3 to 36 months, the roller also encourages continuous play in five different ways, including the use of piano keys, a drum button and various other tactile features that help to strengthen little muscles and support hand-eye coordination.
To reach the stage where your baby is able to grab and pick things up, they’ll need to develop their fine motor skills, which means learning to use the smaller muscles in their hands and wrists, and developing some hand-eye coordination. This is essential for developing muscle tone, movement, agility and even pen skills when they’re older.
You can help your baby to improve their fine motor skills by encouraging them to play with toys such as VTech’s 6-in-1 Playtime Tunnel. Whether they’re lying down or crawling through the tunnel, they can interact with it in a variety of different ways, including pressing the piano keys, flipping the sloth around the front arch and grabbing onto the animals hanging inside. Plus, it’s designed for use between 3 and 36 months, so they can continue playing with it even after they’ve reached this milestone.
The age at which a baby starts walking can vary quite widely, but most reach this milestone some time between 9 and 18 months. No matter when it happens, they’ll start to gear up to it by learning to stand with your support, then standing using furniture, before moving around the room while holding on to you – or anything else they can use to support themselves.
Push-along toys are an easy way to support your child when they take those wobbly first steps, and VTech’s First Steps Baby Walker is a great choice for ages 6 to 30 months. Designed as a 2-in-1 walker and activity centre, it has a removable activity panel with light-up buttons, shape sorters, gears, animal buttons and a role-play phone.
Recognising shapes and colours
Colour, size and shape are 3 of the first attributes that young children will start to notice, and learning to identify and categorise these will help to prepare them for maths, science and reading in the future. Your child’s ability to recognise colours also starts to rev up at around 18 months, so that’s the perfect time to start helping them learn the names of colours and shapes.
If you’re looking to develop your child’s early language skills, talking to them, reading to them and interacting with them will be crucial, but a toy like VTech’s Twist & Play Cube can also be added into the mix. Suitable between the ages of 9 and 36 months, the cube has six interactive sides with plenty of features to introduce colours, numbers and shapes, from a clock and a shape sorter to coloured beads and sing-along songs. The tactile design can also help babies to develop their fine motor skills.
Find out more and explore the VTech Baby range now
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