This week we were invited to attend a play date with parenting expert, Dr Miriam Stoppard, who has worked with Galt Toys to design a range of toys aimed at babies which help stimulate development and learning through play.
When we arrived, the play area was set up with lots of baby mats and a selection of Dr Miriam’s toy range. Sophie made a beeline for the mats and toys whilst Jessica and Daddy were kept amused in the Activity Zone nearby where there were a selection of arts and crafts activities for her to do plus there were also drinks and Ella’s Kitchen snacks available if the girls got hungry.
Whilst the babies played with the toys on the mats, Dr Miriam explained how to help encourage learning and development in babies and small children through play. Here are some of the key points I picked up from the discussion:
Babies are learning all the time from birth onwards and their parents are their first playmates and teachers.
- Chatting away to your baby as you go about various activities is key to encouraging communication
- When playing with toys or looking at things, point out the defining characteristics – for example a bird has a beak, wings, tail and can (usually) fly.
- Babies use all their senses whilst learning so point out colours, describe and let them feel different textures, make noises etc.
- Toys can also aid social development – balls are particularly good toys for helping with social development as well as improving hand-eye coordination.
- The pincer grip is the most difficult skill a baby learns and is key for many later skills such as writing or playing a musical instrument.
Sophie particularly enjoyed playing with the baby walker which looked very well designed and well balanced – even when she had emptied the bricks out of it she was able to pull herself up to standing using the handle without tipping it over, which is more than can be said for our current wooden baby walker! She also enjoyed the hammer and pegs – she didn’t use the hammer but loved pushing the pegs through the board with her hands.
In the meantime, Jessica was having a wonderful time creating a picture of a princess with sequins. Whilst these kits are aimed for children aged 5 and over, she coped quite well with the activity. The picture has sticky spots covered with backing paper plus a wax crayon to help pick up sequins and place them on the spots. Naturally Jessica’s approach was more to remove all the backing paper at once and then shake the sequins all over the picture but it worked fairly well even if it was very messy! She also enjoyed creating a tile-by-numbers picture of a lion with sticky-backed foam mosaic tiles and got the hang of using different colours for different numbers fairly quickly.
As well as meeting the lovely Dr Miriam, I also enjoyed meeting some other bloggers at the event including Jodie from Life with Pink Princesses (plus the gorgeous P2 and P3) and Kara from Innocent Charms Chats (plus her beautiful daughter Addison). Sophie and Jessica also enjoyed interacting with the other children at the event and being sociable.
We were given a goodie bag of Galt Toys to take home which included the Song Bird from the Dr Miriam range of toys and the pull along puppy. The girls have enjoyed playing with these and Sophie particularly likes the bird which is lovely and soft, with different textures to explore, and cheeps when its tummy is pressed. The toys come with booklets which discuss how to encourage your baby’s learning and development through the use of that particular toy and the features of the toy which are particularly helpful with regards to this. Jessica was also given the rest of the Princess Palace Sensational Sequins kit to take home and I am sure she will enjoy doing some of the other activities in this kit.
Thank you to Galt Toys, Dr Miriam Stoppard and Kids Stuff Toys for organising such a great event – we enjoyed ourselves very much.
We were invited to this event and received some complimentary toys and activity kits as stated. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Update (07/01/15) – Galt Toys have produced the following video clip which shows what we got up to on our playdate:
You can also read more about the playdate and how you can help support your child’s learning over on the Galt Toys blog.