Thursday, April 24, 2008

Developmental Wednesday #4 (on Thursday)

My apologies about the delayed post - yesterday was just one of those days.

Today's developmental post is about the connection between toys and development. There are so many toys in stores today and sometimes it can be hard to find the right toy for your preemie. When you're looking for new toys (or deciding which toys to bring out of storage), it's important to think about what stage of development your preemie is in. What are his/her interests and abilities? How much movement is your preemie able to do? What kind of toys does he/she like to play with? Our daughter is 15 months (11 months adjusted) and she still likes to play with small rattle like toys. She enjoys being able to control the toy, picking it up and lately - throwing it down as often as possible.

Here are some tips and things to think about when you're choosing toys for your preemie. This post is devoted to 0-6 months of age (adjusted). I'll do another post for preemies that are older.

0-2 Months - It's all about settling in and seeing things
The first couple of months are all about experiencing the basics of life and seeing things for the first time. The best plaything for a small baby is...you! Being able to look at you and listen to you is the absolute best thing for a baby. If your preemie is still in the NICU than the best thing you can do for him/her is to talk and sing as much as you can. Record your voice talking or reading a story and leave it in the NICU for your preemie to enjoy. Check here for tips and suggestions for making a recording.

Toy Suggestions
Toys that your baby can look at are best at this stage. At this age babies can only see about 6-8". Bright colors are most visible as well as geometric shapes and designs. Yellow against dark blue, yellow against purple and yellow against black are very visible, good choices. Remember to put toys low and off to one side for easy viewing by your preemie.

2-4 months - "Look I have hands"
During this time, your preemie will start to make more random movement using his/her arms and legs. Although a lot of the movement is random, babies will start to bring hands together and play with them. You might catch your preemie just staring at his/her hands - this is all good and normal.

Toy Suggestions
Toys that can be batted around are really good for preemies at this stage. A play mat with hanging toys is a great discovery toy. A bouncie chair is also good during this time - especially if the toys attached to it make noise. If you have pull toys - gently pull them across your baby's line of vision. You can also have a fun game of noise making with your little one - take turns imitating the sounds that he/she makes.

4-6 months - Refining movement and controlling their grasp
At this point, your preemie will start to have much more controlled and purposeful movement. When on his/her tummy, he/she may be able to lift his/her head and chest off of the floor. Your preemie will start to reach out and grab for toys which can be a fun game to play. During this time, your preemie will want and need you for entertainment. Handing him/her toys, picking toys up off the ground and helping him/her move around will be important things for you to do during this time.

Toy Suggestion
Toys that are easy to grab and hold onto are great for preemies at this age. Rings, rattles, soft toys that make noise and other items that can easily be held will be great fun for your preemie. Books or toys that have different textures are also good for preemies at this age.

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