I would like to introduce Christina and her new topic, “Christmas Gift Ideas for 6 to 12 months,” Christina this post is all yours 😉 Also readers, do not hesitate to comment on any other ideas you would like to share to other readers 😊
Hi and welcome to my first article here! As explained in my bio, I am a great believer of play. I believe that play ranks high in helping a child’s development as is good nutrition and adequate sleeping patterns. As a professional, but even more so as a mother, I have seen how play helps with the development of milestones, encourages interaction and communication with other children and adults and helps build relationships whilst also relaxes those at play. At home we have also experienced the therapeutic and healing benefits of play when our daughter passed through a traumatic episode and through reliving the horrific experience during play, her true healing began.
But with so many toys available on the market what should we choose? I get this question asked to me over and over again and with Christmas, just around the corner, I thought I’d prepare a list of toys /items that can help support the development of speech and language. This article contains a list of toys suitable for babies aged around 6 to 12 months. I will be publishing another article with a list for children aged 1 to 3 years soon so stay tuned This article is not sponsored by anyone. I am just giving ideas about the toys we personally had at home. Also, some home photos are not of the best quality but they are the only ones I have since my children are now three and five years old.
Before I start, I would like to emphasise the fact that it is truly unnecessary to spend a ridiculous amount of money on toys! Actually, try and look out for objects in the home such as containers, scraps of fabric, boxes, etc. Always ensure that they are safe to give to your baby, however. Forget all about the fancy light up toys….from experience I can tell you the children are disinterested after only a few uses and they do little good in enticing the child to use his or her imagination and creativity. Look out for open-ended toys; toys that can be used over and over again in different ways. Wooden toys are better than plastic as they are more durable and so will still be usable in the years to come. Moreover, they are better for the environment and they look really pretty!
Speech and communication milestones around this age include mainly what we call the preverbal skills which basically form the basis from which language understanding and talking is developed.
- Cause and Effect. The child starts to learn that he can make things happen. For example, if he calls out for you, you will come next to him. This teaches him that his behaviour and actions lead to a response. A small list of adequate toys include
- Musical instruments where the child learns that when he shakes or bangs on a toy a sound is made. There are a number of easy DIY projects on the internet you can follow to make your own instruments. Easier than that… get a wooden spoon and a kitchen pot and let him make music with that.
- Make a simple busy board. Our children loved this when they were young. My father prepared a large piece of wood and hung it on our wall. He then attached various child- friendly items such as a light switch, latches, a wheel, etc.. just go to a hardware store and see what you can find. You can also get creative and add a xylophone, a set of keys attached to a key chain, a mirror… I can assure you that they will love it! I got this picture from Pinterest. You will find loads of ideas there.
- Wind up toys
- Sound making books where the child has to press buttons to hear the sounds
- Popping animals where the child has to press the button and the animal pops up
- Ball drop where the child has to place the ball on the top tray and watch it go down
- Non-verbal turn-taking skills are precursors to turn-taking skills needed during a conversation. We take turns to talk in a conversation very much in the same way as we take turns when playing games. Moreover, this also encourages sharing. We can encourage turn-taking by:
- Using a ball to take turns rolling it to each other. As the child gets older you can take turns rolling it to a target such as a tower of blocks to knock it down
- A set of blocks to take turns when building a tower. Large wooden blocks are ideal for the younger child. We also had a set of blocks with pictures on them which provided more vocabulary practice.
- Ring stacks
- Stacking cups
- Simple shape sorter
- Listening and understanding
- Books are a wonderful way to support language development by looking and listening. At this age aim for either soft cloth books or hard sturdy ones. Look out for simple multisensory books that encourage the child to point and also use his sense of touch. There are also bath books and books with key chains that can be attached to pushchairs. If you want something extra special for Christmas why not set up a reading corner? You can buy a tepee or a tent or build a fort or even set up a small corner with a blanket and cushions. This together with a small basket of books is the perfect reading corner and relaxation space for both you and your child.
- Since we are talking about books, this is a tradition we started last year and aim to keep doing it every year until the kids leave home. Last year we gave them both a photo album with photos collected throughout that year. They loved going through it and it was a great activity to practice language whilst talking about the photos and memories. For the very young child, you can prepare a simple photo book with clear photos of family members, pets and any of the child’s favourite items. They’ll love going through it with you whilst you name who is in the photo. You can also include pictures of your child doing different activities such as sleeping, eating, playing which will give some practice of action words too
- Toy animals and perhaps a small simple farm. Animal sounds are some of the first sounds children generally start to imitate. A toy farm with a barn will give opportunities for the child to listen to the words open, close, in, out etc.
- Pretend play
- Pretend play generally starts to develop later however there are a number of toys that are suitable for babies under one year of age and can be used for further language exposure, imitation and most importantly having fun!
- A soft doll or soft toy can be your child’s little partner during everyday routine activities. For example a little doll can be seated next to your child during meal times with a plate and cup, a plastic doll can accompany your child during bath time and you can both wash her whilst naming different body parts, a teddy bear can be placed in a box with a blanket when it is time for bed etc.
- Cars; create a ramp with a piece of sturdy cardboard placed against a stack of books and watch the car roll down, make car sounds such as ‘vroom’ and ‘beep beep’
- Toy Phone; dial the numbers and pretend to say ‘hello’ and ‘bye’
- Puppets; children love puppets! I still use puppets with our 3 and 5-year-olds and it’s amazing how much they obey Mr. Cow’s orders and opposed to mine! Use them to sing nursery rhymes, read stories, talk and interact with your child, tickle your child, etc
- Bath toys make bath time even more fun! Choose toys that do not have holes in them as tend to get mouldy by time. We have a small wooden sailing boat, large plastic fish with a fishing rod, cups, spoons, funnels, teapot, etc. As a Christmas present, you can prepare a box with all the different bath toys but then only present two or three items at a time. And remember to never leave the child unattended whilst playing in the water.
- Messy Play
Last but not least is Messy Play. Whoever knows me knows that I have never shied away from the dreaded mess this play causes. and believe me we have had BIG messes… but they left BIG memories for us all and that is why I am forever a fan. Moreover, using a multisensory approach is a great way to engage a child in play and offers endless opportunities for language exposure. One of the best investments we ever made is buying a Tuff Tray which helps contain the mess (not totally though). It is large enough for your child to stay in too. So a gift idea can be a tuff tray together with a basket containing accessories that can be used for this type of play such as cups, measuring cups, jugs, buckets, teapot, large paintbrushes, colander, and funnel. Your child is still young so he probably will not use these accessories in the ‘right way’. But that is ok! Ensure that everything is safe for your child and let him get down to exploring.
Next, go on the net and search for messy play recipes you can use that are safe for your child. Some play that is safe for very young children includes water, yogurt, edible paint, etc. Use items that are safe for your child to put in his mouth. For example, if your child is already eating a soft solid consistency you can add coloured spaghetti or cooked pasta but stay away from uncooked beans and rice at this young age as it can be a choking hazard. Play mud was also really fun here as is goop and moon sand. I really wish I can go into more detail but I will never finish this article if I do so.
This photo was taken when we used coloured spaghetti. We got out tray when our youngest was two years old. Before that, we used basins.
Lastly, I would like you all to remember that your child, more often than not, will not use the toy as you would expect him to and that is OK! As long as the baby is using the toy safely, you can sit back and enjoy watching your child explore and learn as he or she prefers. Everything is a new experience for these little ones and it’s so beautiful watching them learn and develop as each day goes by.
I really do hope that you have enjoyed this article and that you have found these ideas useful. I look forward to hearing your feedback and should you require any more information regarding something mentioned here, do not hesitate to contact me as I will be more than willing to help! May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and playful Christmas.
Thank you Christina, for an amazing article 🙌📖 Stay tuned for her next article and if you have any topics you would like her to write about, please do not hesitate to contact me below or on social media 😊