When you go to the store and pick out a new toy for your baby, do you consider how it will benefit her development? And have you ever considered how items that are already in your home, like your coffee table or couch, can help improve your infant's motor skills?
According to new research, many parents don't know just how much toys and household items aid in the development of their baby's motor skills. But a simple questionnaire could help change that.
In order to encourage parents to look at toys and everyday objects differently, researchers at the University of Texas Arlington developed the Affordances in the Home Environment for Motor Development-Infant Scale (AHEMD-IS) to help caregivers analyze the items children are exposed to. The AHEMD-IS questionnaire focuses specifically on infants between the ages of 3 and 18 months, and its questions evaluate physical space in the home, variety of stimulation, and the presence of both gross- and fine-motor toys.
"When parents buy toys, they're rarely thinking 'I wonder if this is going to be great for my child's fine or gross motor skills,' but if they look at each AHEMD-IS question and each separation of the question, they can choose to buy toys that are different or that offer different opportunities for their infants," researcher Priscila Caí§ola, an assistant professor of kinesiology in the UT Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation, said in a press release.
Recently, experts examined questionnaire responses from the parents of more than 400 infants over the course of five years, and found that AHEMD-IS is, in fact, a reliable tool for both parents and professionals to use in order to promote motor skill development. So take a look—and see if it spurs any new ideas for you and your baby!
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn