The first two years of your child’s life lay important foundations for their long term hand-eye coordination. While these are natural stages of their development, parents can help by encouraging play with a variety of educational toys.
The first six months
It is during the first six months of your baby’s life that they will develop the ability to grasp objects. At first your baby will be unable to pick up or hold objects independently; instead, you will notice them batting their hands at these objects. Baby gyms are a fantastic idea at this time as they provide stimulation and the opportunity for babies to reach towards and ‘bat’ at the hanging toys. Holding a toy just outside of your baby’s reach encourages stretching and batting as well. You may notice them carefully watching their hands as they learn how far they need to reach in order to grasp hold of something.
Allowing tummy time during these first few months is also very important, as it encourages strengthening in your baby’s neck and back. Always monitor your baby during these times, especially as they may find it uncomfortable at first.
By about four or five months your baby will be able to grasp and hold (though not necessarily let go of!) things such as building blocks and rattles. By six months they can often hold one toy, while reaching for another. Babies are fascinated by squeaky toys at this time and as they watch you squeeze such a toy, they will eventually learn this ability too.
As babies like to put most things they grab hold of into their mouths, always ensure that they toys you give them are clean and large enough that they won’t be able to choke on them.
Six to twelve months
By the time your baby is one, they should be well on their way to developing what is known as the pincer grasp. This is their ability to pick up and hold smaller items. Babies also enjoy picking up and dropping objects during these months. This might drive you crazy, but it is part of your baby developing their understanding of cause and effect (even if the effect is mummy or daddy getting cranky!). Your baby will start to clap and wave during these exciting months.
The second year
During the second year of your child’s life, they will learn to stack objects on top of each other, and they will enjoy the sounds made when they bang building blocks together, for example. Before their second birthday, your child will begin to show an interest in sorting toys into shapes, and even playing with jigsaws and basic construction sets. They will also become interested in emptying baskets and buckets, so toys that can be stacked inside each other will provide a great deal of amusement and stimulation. Toys that allow toddlers to push or pull buttons or levers and turn things over are great at developing fine motor skills during this time. Walkers are an excellent idea as your child starts to walk as they provide stability while taking their first steps, and they will enjoy pushing and moving the walker in various situations. Banging the walker into legs, walls and furniture, is all part of your child learning to negotiate the space around them.
Your child develops important hand and eye skills during the first two years of their life. Toys such as building blocks, shape sorters and walkers will help them in developing their skills.
Allira Newlands is the owner and product buyer for educational and wooden eco toys supplier Noli Toys. Noli Toys philosophy is about giving parents a trusted place to find toys that have been checked and double checked for quality, sustainable manufacture, safety and of course, fun.