My favorite product for this post is the Infantino Pail Pets.
My mom got these for my daughter and I fell in love with them right away. Who can't love a set of animal pails that come with little "treats" for each one? What's great about these pails is that they are soft yet stackable. My daughter had a tendency to wave toys around and that resulted in the occasional whack to the head when she wasn't paying attention. With these, she could wave them around without issue. They come with a lot of great features including ears that squeak, crinkle, and shake. Obviously they can also be used as buckets which fit inside each other. Here are some ways to use these toys to encourage development:
1) Cause and Effect - Each Pail Pet has something that makes a noise when your preemie does something. Show your preemie what each ear or bucket does and then encourage him/her to do it too.
2) Put In/Take Out - These are great buckets for encouraging your preemie to take items out and put items back into a container. The great thing about these buckets is that they are different sizes so if your preemie is just learning this skill, use the small bucket so that the items are easy to grab out. Use the bigger buckets as he/she gets better at this skill.
3) Stackable - The buckets can be stacked and with their large size and soft edges, preemies can easily grab them and stack them. A great place for your preemie to get started on this skill.
4) Animal Sounds - Tell your preemie what each pail is supposed to be and then make the sound of the animal. This is a fun and easy way for your preemie to start learning animal sounds.Have Fun!