When choosing toys for your baby with Down syndrome, it's important to keep in mind several things. For starters, your baby's low muscle tone can make reaching, grasping, and handling certain toys challenging. And you can't always rely on a product's age recommendation because your baby may reach developmental milestones a bit later than her same-age peers do. "A toy is appropriate if your baby's curiosity is aroused and she can engage with it," says Asha Asher, an occupational therapy coordinator for Cincinnati-area schools.
Asher recommends looking for infant toys that provide multiple sensory inputs. "Toys with bright colors, different textures and that make a sound when moved promote the development of fine motor skills by encouraging reaching and grasping," she says. Here's a look at 10 toys that will your baby will love.
This textured playmat stimulates vision and color recognition with its rich hues; enhances fine motor skills with its push-button music player and puzzles; and promotes exploration and awareness with a peekaboo mirror.
Attach this soft-padded, shatterproof mirror to the side of baby's crib or stand it up on its own to encourage your baby to lift his head and chest and improve muscle tone. The textured ladybug, caterpillar, and ball promote the use of fine motor skills, including reaching, touching, and grasping.
This 2013 Oppenheim Special Needs Adaptable Award winner is designed to promote sensory learning. The various textures on the rattle's handle, rubber balls, and teething ring encourage touching, grasping and mouthing. Multicolored rings clack when shaken, and stimulate hearing and vision.
The tough, sturdy construction of this audio-enhanced book makes it a great first read for little ones. Your baby can practice the fine motor skill of pointing and pushing the button sound bar to connect words with pictures. The audio boosts language development and speech.
Just a small push or swipe of the hands will set this toy into motion, encouraging your baby to crawl after it. Fun rattling sounds stimulate hearing. There is also a Tom Push N Go that is purr-fect for cat lovers. The Push N Go won a 2013 Oppenheim Special Needs Adaptable Award.
Your baby's hand-eye coordination gets a boost as she tries to place shapes into the correct places with this toy. Better yet, when your child succeeds, she is rewarded with sounds and music. The rattling blocks feature vivid pictures, adding to your baby's sensory development.
Watch your baby's balance and coordination improve as he progresses from sitting on the puppy to pushing it as a walker to riding it as his little legs make it go. This "talking" pup also provides lessons in letters, numbers, colors, and shapes.
The soft molded rubber fins on the Squidgie Ball make it easy for little hands to pick up, hold on to, throw, and catch. They're excellent for improving fine motor skills.
Winner of a 2013 Oppenheim Special Needs Adaptable Award, this plush, lovable whale teaches cause and effect as Baby feeds brightly colored hankies into its mouth and pulls them out of the spout. The whale's different-textured fabrics in bold colors and crinkly fin and tail provide multisensory stimulation.
Little fingers can use musical sounds to learn about numbers, colors, and songs. The singsong piano tunes foster language development while the vibrantly colored piano keys make the corresponding colored balls pop, teaching the concept of cause and effect.
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