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Parenting Guide
Use this resource as a guide to your child's development with valuable parenting information & tips for interacting with your youngster's education. Select an age range:

Infant Years 0+
Infant Years 3m+
Infant Years 6m+
Infant Years 9m+
Toddler Years 12m+
Toddler Years 1-3y
Preschool Years 3-5y
School Years 5-8y

0+ Infant Years

It's never too early to begin playing with your new baby. In fact, to a newborn fascinated with the sight of your face & your warm touch, you are your baby's first toy.

From day one, your baby learns through his senses—eyes, ears, nose, mouth & skin. When you play in ways which stimulate those senses, you are helping your newborn baby flourish emotionally, socially, & intellectually.

Parenting your newborn infant

Look for every day ways to playfully stimulate your baby's developing senses.

As you change baby's diaper, keep a favorite rattle nearby to stimulate baby's auditory & visual skills. As you ride in the car, pop in a musical CD for baby to listen to. In the supermarket, offer baby textured, scented toys to touch, smell & touch. For bath time fun, run tub toys over baby's soapy belly & legs. At day's end, snuggle & rock your sleepyhead along with a soft "lovey" bedtime pal.

Through rich, playful, sensory experiences like these, your newborn baby will begin life feeling secure & loved.

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3m+ Infant Years

Between the ages of three and six months, your baby will grow more playful as she begins to actively explore her immediate world.

At this stage, you'll notice your baby "unfurl" like a budding flower. Little fingers, once curled shut, now extend to grasp & explore toes, toys & your fingers. Little eyes, once unable to focus more than inches away, are now able to enjoy a kaleidoscope of colors & shapes as well as objects near & far. A social smile has emerged & you'll notice baby cooing & babbling. At the same time, baby's mouth has become a primary source of sensory exploration.

Parenting your 3 month+ baby

At this stage, you'll want to provide baby toys which stimulate sensory awareness. Offer baby a textured, scented ball which appeals to touch & smell, plus different rattles & teethers that encourage visual, auditory & oral development. Don't forget to provide plenty of "tummy time" activities using toys that encourage baby to roll over & support their weight with their arms. Safety toy mirrors are also a perfect choice because your baby is now fascinated by his own image & you can use mirror play to help baby label the parts of the face & encourage self-recognition.

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6m+ Infant Years

Now's the time when baby will begin sitting up & reaching for objects to grab, squeeze, push & pull at will. This is baby's way of declaring, "Hey! I can act on & manipulate the world around me!" This behavior also demonstrates baby's growing fascination, interest & curiosity in his environment—traits which are essential for ongoing learning.

In addition to the balls, which encourage dexterity & coordination, now is the time to surround baby with a variety of push-pull toys, beginning chunky puzzles, shape-sorting boxes that encourage hand-eye coordination & matching skills, & easy stacking toys that offer success. You'll also want to include teethers that encourage chewing & soothe gums as teeth begin to erupt.

Parenting your 6 month+ baby

Get down on the floor alongside baby & place a favorite toy just out of reach to encourage your baby to reach & grab for the toy. Also, use floortime to take turns assembling puzzles, sorting objects such as measuring cups & stacking toys. In this way, you'll entice baby to touch, smell, look & learn about objects & how they fit together.

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9m+ Infant Years

Now is when your precocious little child turns a bit scientific playing "trial & error" games. He delights in peek-a-boo toys that have parts that disappear & reappear offering an opportunity to experiment in object permanence. He never tires of exploring the delights of gravity by dropping toys & objects for Mommy or Daddy to fetch.

Parenting your 9 month+ baby

At this time, baby language development is expanding to include simple speech sounds. His ability increases to help turn the pages of a book each time you read together. Spend time helping baby complete simple chunky puzzles & use stacking & sorting toys to strengthen baby's hand-eye coordination.

This is also the time when baby begins to pull himself to standing. Provide your child with busy boxes & simple cause & effect toys which entertain & educate while stimulating fine & gross motor skills.

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12m+ Toddler Years

Now is the exciting time when cooing, babbling, & gesturing begin to give way to the formation of speech. When baby attempts to pronounce the name of an object, her brain is connecting that sound to the object. She's also showing she understands that a sound or a word is a symbol for an object.

At this age, in addition to loving toys to stack & sort, encourage toys which develop thinking skills & fine motor coordination. You'll also want to provide toys which engage your baby's new ability to scoop, dump & pour water & sand.

Parenting your 12 month+ baby

Your baby understands many more words & phrases than she is able to articulate. The best way to promote your baby's speech is by spending time each day reading, singing & talking together. Make a habit of commenting aloud as you play together. By saying things like, "Let's scoop some sand into this yellow cup," or "You want me to put my block on top of yours?"  your baby will learn words for attributes, objects, actions, & positions, as well as routine directions.

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1-3 Toddler Years

At this age, your child is becoming more independent & curious. You'll also notice comical "mini-me" behavior as your child begins to imitate your words & actions.

Such fun-filled pretend play has a special purpose: it's critical for building your child's symbolic thinking. As your child imitates you, he or she is trying your behaviors on for size while also attempting to establish a self separate from you.

Parenting your 1-3 year-old child

Your child loves building things, taking things apart, & putting them back together, so be sure to engage your child with lots of construction toys & puzzles in addition to simple picture books, musical toys & recordings. Also important are toys for outdoor play that promote gross motor skills. Don't forget to offer “grown-up” looking toys your child can use as you & your little helper work together to complete tasks in & around the home: a realistic-looking play phone, tools just like in the workroom, & child-size toy kitchen utensils for pretend cooking & experimentation. At the end of your long day, turn on some music & dance your cares away!

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3-5 Preschool Years

At this stage, your child goes from knowing to understanding more & more of his ever-widening world.

This is the enchanting time of dramatic & creative play where your child acts out mini-dramas which consist of a past, present & future—and that involve social interaction with other children. At this stage, language explodes as your child relies more & more on words to explain ideas & exchange thoughts with others. Your child can now follow simple instructions which encourages independence & responsibility.

Parenting your 3-5 year-old child

In addition to supplying your child toys which support dramatic play, you'll want to teach your child to play with toys that develop sorting, classifying, comparing, contrasting, counting & matching skills. These toys are a playful way to prepare your child for learning letters & numbers. Arts & crafts activities also encourage pre-reading & pre-math skills. You'll also want to offer toys that encourage fine & gross motor movements, as well as cooperative play to help your child embrace the larger world.

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5-8 School Years

As your child grows into the school years, the nature of play changes & matures. Your child will still engage in lots of dramatic & creative play, but it will be more complex & elaborate than before. Toys become more imaginative for your child. You'll want to offer your child a play space to encourage more elaborate imaginary story crafting.

As your child's world widens to include school & the neighborhood, her dramatic play will broaden to include play involving recreation & relaxation, similar to your adult play. That's why you'll want your toy choices to include sports equipment & family games which involve physical skills & encourage social interaction.

Parenting your 5-8 year-old child

Eventually your child's dramatic play gives way to a desire for thinking toys & activities such as puzzles, math games, logic games, board games, card games, books & music that help children imagine & visualize (paint mental pictures). As your child begins to master simple academic skills—reading, writing, computation, telling time, & measurement skills—she'll apply these skills & concepts to the games you play together—giving you the idea opportunity to applaud her growing knowledge base. Try interacting with your child through craft, game & construction activities which have a clear beginning, middle & ending. In this manner, your child can learn planning & execution skills that build self-confidence for a lifetime of playful learning.

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Now that you've learned how your child develops, please check out my Discovery Toys Perfect Toy Finder to see how Discovery Toys products can help you & your child reach your developmental & educational goals. Discovery Toys has a lot more information about Child Development!

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