Archive: March 2010

March 23, 2010

Baby Blankets

My three children each have a special baby blanket that they sleep with each night and scream for whenever they have a boo-boo or other need for comfort. One night I will not easily forget is the one when I returned from a trip with my son – and forgot to pack his blankie to bring back home.  You can only imagine the look I got from my wife when she unpacked the bag and realized the blankie was 2 hours away.

They do not call these “security blankets” for nothing. It is a familiar object that babies development a strong attachment to and it helps them with transitions and other times when they are feeling insecure or just in need of a little extra comfort. It is tough to improve upon these indelible staples of our babies’ early years. However, even baby blankets can be created to enable more interaction and a closer bond with mom and dad.

The eebee Snuggle time blanky was designed with a way for parents to wiggle into that special time when baby is holding tight onto their blanket. There are simple arms on the sides of the blanket so that parents can slip their fingers in and cuddle with their little one. So the blanket is actually  “puppet-able”.

eebee Snuggle Time Baby Blanket

My littlest one, Whitney, loved to play little body parts games with me as she would hold onto her eebee blanky and I would tickle her cheek, nose, ears and chin. Whitney would giggle with anticipation as I held my fingers right above the next part of her face I was about touch with the puppet. Adding this type of human dimension to the classic staple of a baby blanket does adds a richness and helps facilitate the development of communication exchanges between baby and parent . These back and forth exchanges between a parent and child are especially important during the 3 months to 12 months time frame when the brain is being wired for social connection and communication about the world. (Read more at www.RaisingWhit.com, Infant stage Q2 & Q3) Figuring out new and different ways to create these exchanges on a regular basis with your baby  is an ongoing priority for parents. Having something as central to a baby’s life as his blankie that can also help facilitate these important interactions can really help.

March 11, 2010

Stroller Toys

Stroller toys come in many shapes and sizes; one common purpose of each though is getting our babies to pay attention to something while we adults get something done or saving us from a meltdown while in a place like the grocery store.

We see loud clackers, lots of music things, vibrating and distracting motion. Sure we want the quick fix but what is in it for the baby? How can we provide something that supports our babies’ development as well as gets us a few minutes of quiet and calm.

eebee stroller toy

eebee stroller toy

Well one idea is a peek-a-boo stroller toy. One of the most popular games for babies is peek-a-boo and there is a good reason for that. Babies are working on the concept that when things are hidden behind hands, a blanket or something that it has not completely disappeared from the world. They have not yet figured out that objects don’t disappear but are just hidden. Academics call this the concept of “object permanence” and it is why babies don’t tire of all the peek-a-boo variations. They need a large experience base to figure that objects don’t disappear from the world just because they are hidden.

Therefore our eebee stroller toy uses the popular vibrating mechanism found in a lot of stroller or hanging toys to shimmy eebee above and then behind a blanket. Babies love it so it meets the goal of engaging them with something and it enables our babies to work on that elusive concept of object permanence with each session. Again its about taking those everyday moments and creating some rich learning adventure out of it.

March 3, 2010

Stacking Toys

We are all familiar with the numerous types of stacking toys which usually have a spindle/pole on some base with graduated rings of different sizes. No doubt your baby has one or has used one somewhere like on a playdate or doctors office visit. It’s a classical developmental baby toy.

Typical Stacker

Typical Stacker

Well let’s use the stacking toy as an example of how you nurture all these important developmental objectives of Character (eg Humanity), Competences (eg Language Development), and Conceptual understanding (eg Physics of Rings & Poles). Most of the time when I see parents playing with their baby on one of these things, the baby puts on a small ring first and immediately mom says oh no the big one goes on first not that one. The parent wants to match the perfect graduated sizes from big to small just like they were packaged at the store. However that is not what it is about at all. Again it is all about mucking around and exploring with these objects and their classic play patterns. The eebee’s Adventures “stacker” actually gets rid of the spindle and makes the rings fit on just about anything (see photo below).

eebee Stacker

eebee Stacker

Sure you can stack them on the arms and legs of eebee just like you can a spindle but more importantly you can create a much more emotional experience by stacking them on your babies arms and legs, having your baby stack them on your arms and legs and stacking them and matching them with lots of objects around the room. For example, you can take the yellow ring and play an interactive matching game with your baby. You say can “This ring is ‘yellow’. What else is yellow in this room. Let’s find it and stack this yellow ring on it.”

Taking the focus away from the spindle and matching, fitting, stacking in lots of rich ways creates more numerous opportunities for Language development. Not only do you name the color “yellow” like in the example above you make yellow come alive more by “doing” yellow and having the baby actually find other yellow objects, fit the ring on the yellow object and feel the joy of having matched yellows or even saying yellow themselves if old enough. Babies learn by doing so naming exploring “yellow” exploring the object it was matched to “chair”, “bucket/pale” and all the other objects makes this classic stacking game a great language and vocabulary development tool.

You can also nurture character development such as Humanity during the play by emphasizing the emotional experience of the play. Watch the range of emotions that your baby expresses during the stacking experience from the excitement of matching colors to the frustration of not being able to get the ring onto the spindle or object. Label those emotions and show you understand what they are experiencing and can make the same expression to reflect back that you can feel that emotion with them.

Your babies are also learning a lot about the physics of solid objects rings with holes and poles and arms that fit those holes. We take for granted all these concepts that babies need to explore with hands on experience. So this simple play and exploration around a stacking toy can nurture and exercise character, competence, and concepts. This is how development works; it is paying attention and tuning into all these little everyday experiences that accumulate and add up into big important influences on our child’s development. It is the little things we do every day that count.