While every child is unique, one thing is certain; the first few years of life are the most important for brain development. And parents can create the right atmosphere to hone language, cognition and social and emotional skills, as well as support physical and motor development.
“Everything your child observes and engages with affects his or her cognitive and physical development,” says Dr. Lise Eliot, early brain development expert and member of the Expert Panel at VTech, a world leader in age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children. “You can help create an atmosphere that encourages your baby, infant or preschooler to meet essential developmental milestones.”
Eliot recommends baby-proofing your home early to encourage safe exploration for physical development. As soon as babies are mobile, exploration is crucial — and the more space they have to move without limitations, the better. Also, be sure to spend time outdoors each day, visiting age-appropriate playgrounds and parks where children can spend time together in order to foster cooperation, sharing and empathy.
Be mindful of the types of toys you give your children. The best choices will be age-appropriate and designed to encourage them to meet developmental milestones.
“Children learn through play, and it’s never too early to incorporate teachable moments into a baby’s day,” says Dr. Eliot, who works with VTech to ensure that all their baby, infant and preschool products are designed to deliver developmental benefits.
To make learning and development fun, parents should seek out toys that have been approved by educators and child development experts, such as VTech’s growing line of baby, infant and preschool toys and products. New highlights include the Zoo Jamz Piano, which includes more than 20 songs and lets kids choose whether they want to play piano, violin, xylophone or saxophone, as well as the Crinkle & Roar Lion, an award-winning toy that even newborns can play with to explore shapes, colors and letters while delighting in the lion’s roar and other cheerful sounds.
To help you navigate the toy store, check out VTech’s Milestones guide, which can help you select toys based on your child’s individual needs. More information can be found at vtechkids.com/milestones.
Remember, the best thing you can do for your children is to unplug for a bit each day, spending time to read aloud, create art projects, sing and play together.