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First Year Baby Development: How Play Mats and Toys Can Contribute

In the first year of your infant's life, they are extremely busy growing and developing! Here’s how you can positively contribute to the process through play mats, toys and trinkets

MONTHS 0 - 3

In the first few months of their lives, newborns are busy working on basic, vital skills. They learn to focus their eyes on objects, use their hands for basic grasping motions, use their vocal cords to communicate, rather than just cry- THAT they know how to do right from birth! They also begin to communicate in other ways, such as showing you a sweet gummy smile. Two-way communication with newborns can be extremely beneficial to their development, and rewarding for moms, as Nikki from Mother Made You describes: 

“I use this precious time to serve her some cooing and eye contact while she returns back similar engagements. We do this for around 2-5 minutes or until she indicates she is done by looking away or squirming around. We continue serve and return interactions all through the day as well.”

Mother Made You blog                                                    📷 Mother Made You 

To assist with their learning and growth, toys such as colourful rattles can help newborns utilize their optical abilities and practice grasping new objects. They will also find great enjoyment in attempting to use their digestive system by eating these fun toys (don’t let them)! Forest and Wild has a great selection of natural, organic, safe-for-chewing options for newborn baby toys. 

Teething toy                                                    📷 Forest and Wild 

To attest to the power of play time, Nikki continues:

“I am a strong believer in the power of play. Play allows children to learn so much from their environment. I typically will set Mila down on her back to play with her dangling toys. She attempts to reach them and kicks her feet the more she enjoys what she sees/hears.”

Babies’ muscular development is also quite rapid  during the early stages of their life. They can practice exercising and start to lift their own heads during tummy time within a few short months. Tummy time is vital to prepare young babies for future movement such as crawling and walking, and to prevent flat spot. 

While some babies take to lifting their head more naturally than others, all can benefit from some loving encouragement, as Nikki describes: 

“I’ll flip her over to her tummy and she will do around 3-5 minutes of tummy time. She responds well to encouragement, clapping and hoorays during this time.”

Play mats are a great way to assist your baby in exercising during tummy time, and work towards holding their own head up through developing their chest and neck muscles. 

A good quality play mat, such as ALZiP mat, should be sufficiently thick to support your baby’s joints, and soft enough to help them feel a little more comfortable. Soft toys like these extra-soft, handmade rattles from Forest and Wild can also be useful to show your baby during tummy time to help them practice multiple skills at once!

newborn baby tummy time

📷 Wunderkids

MONTHS 3 - 6

At this stage, babies become much more mobile. They begin to roll and/or “creep” around the floor, making play mats more important than ever. 

ALZiP mat is a premium play mat option. It is made with buttery soft vegan leather that’s free of toxins- in fact, it is the only FDA approved food-grade mat. ALZiP mat is also easily foldable, water and stain resistant, and available in five different colours to match any decor you already have. The ALZiP mat will allow your baby to grow and explore freely as they develop, without any worry.

Baby tummy time exercise

📷 Wunderkids 

Likewise, babies continue to gain more hand mobility, and improve their skills in actually holding and moving objects. Additionally, soft food can come into play at around 4-6 months, and they try new hand mobility & eating habits at once by attempting to feed themselves (with the help of a parent at their side)!

In an interview with Lemons for Days, expert holistic nutritionist Lisa Hewitt states:

“The most important thing is to respect baby’s cues and to let them lead during mealtime…. When they want more they’ll lean in or grab for the spoon.”

Tasyganics sells several easy-to-digest baby food free from hormones, antibiotics and GMOs with the highest European organic standards, in several flavour and grain options. 

It is also important that babies get a sufficient amount of healthy fats in their diet, as Lisa Hewitt explains:

“A baby’s brain grows to about 65% of its adult size by 12 months of age (which is staggering), and 75% of the nervous system is comprised of fatty tissues! It is vital to provide appropriate nourishment by offering the essential nutrients for the brain.” 

 

soft baby food

📷 The MotHERS Program 

MONTHS 6 - 9 

Once babies reach the 6 month mark, developmental milestones start rolling in faster than ever. Babies begin to crawl at various points throughout this time period, depending on their individual development. Some may even begin to stand at around 8 months old! As they become increasingly mobile, baby proofing is more vital than ever to ensure they can practice their newfound skills in a safe and secure environment. 

ALZiP Babyroom is an adjustable playpen that works hand-in-hand with ALZiP mat to provide your baby with a safe and secure place to play, away from dangers. It can be configured into multiple shapes and sizes to suit your exact needs, and fits perfectly with ALZiP mat.  

crawling baby play mat and playpen

📷 Wunderkids 

At the same time, babies’ oral skills and memory improves even further. During this rapid development of their abilities, baby books are excellent tools to help them learn and grow, and foster healthy habits for years to come. 

While their oral skills are advancing, another big change is occurring in their mouths at this stage… Many babies begin teething! Though, like all other processes, the timing of this varies widely. Once your baby does begin the strenuous process, however, it is impossible to understate how helpful teething toys can be, such as these great quality, natural ones from Forest and Wild. Your baby’s gums are going to need the relief that a teething toy provides as they grow in their pearly whites! They can be quite vocal during this stage, so when their pain is relieved, yours is too. 

MONTHS 9 -12 

Following the pattern of previous stages, babies continue to become more mobile as they crawl, stand, and may even take their first few steps as they near their first full year of life.

Much like before, it is important that you continue to offer them a safe space to learn and play- so they can fall, and bravely get up again, as many times as they need.

ALZiP mat and Babyroom combined can provide the safest space possible for your baby to practice their first few steps! 

safe baby playtime play mat and playpen

📷 Wunderkids 

As their brains become even smarter, babies also gain object permanence during this stage of life, so they remember that objects exist even when they are not currently present. To assist them develop this ability, toys that can be used to play hide and seek with babies are quite beneficial.

Babies are impressive little creatures, growing faster than any mother can comprehend! It is no surprise that as they do so, their individual personality becomes more obvious, and they become much more cognizant of their place in the world. They are increasingly curious and active, and will only become more so as they grow. 

To sum the first year of your baby’s life up, Jasmin from Lemons for Days puts it perfectly:

“I’m looking back on all the things he’s learned this past year and realize that it’s been chock full of amazing memories. It’s like looking through a catalogue of his many different laughs, smiles, cries, sounds, and milestones.”

By implementing the toys and trinkets outlined in this article in the first year of your baby’s life, you will set them up for success for the rest of their lives. 


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