Thursday, 17 October 2013

Fun Mobility Toys


The speed at which children, from their first weeks, develop new mobility skills is breath taking!

One minute they are stationary, the next they are rolling, crawling, cruising, walking and running and then belting away from you at full speed :-)

Great mobility toys really enhance this development and help kids acquire by 3 or 4 seriously awesome balancing & control skills.

Mastering these skills gives children the pure joy of controlling their bodies in all sorts of clever ways plus an awareness of how their body moves.

Later on they will able to translate this awareness into an understanding of all sorts of principles of motion in the natural world.

Finding the right toys for each stage in their development however, can be a challenge.

Not least because children master these skills at such different rates.

They need toys that challenge them whilst not frustrating them by being too hard.

But it is also easy to under estimate how much children can do.

I have been completed wowed by the way 3 year olds can balance at speed on a balance bike for 50 metres without putting their feet down or swerve and apply a brake on a scooter whilst going down hill!

I struggle with this now for cripes sake!

But the major challenge in choosing mobility toys is that they are seriously expensive and it is easy ... as we learnt the hard way ... to make mistakes and be lumbered with something that doesn't work and is totally neglected.

It's really worth trying out friends and families firsts and looking for good brands second hand as many of them are very durable.

This is a list of the types of mobility toys that support different stages of development and examples of my daughter's best loved mobility toys from when she was first born ...

What are your favourites?

Do link them up plus your other ideas for fun outdoor play at the bottom of this post.


Play Mat


Babies may not seem very mobile but every week there's some new mobility skill being mastered ... stretching, bashing, feeling, rolling, shuffling, crawling.

Play nests are great when babies are very little but a big play mat with lots of different textures invites babies to spend time on their tummy and to reach out, stretch, roll over and crawl.

We had a small mat initially which was nice but got bored with it pretty quickly and replaced it with this big one from Tiny Love with loads of textures, flaps, tags, things to chew and a mirror to encourage movement all over the mat.




Bouncer


Unless your child starts commando crawling very early there's a point between 3 and 6 months when they are very frustrated by their inability to get around. They've got bundles of energy and need to express it.

Bouncers are brilliant for this. They give enormous pleasure and strengthen their legs and also provide a great way to keep baby safe when you need your hands free.

We had the Jumperoo from Fisher Price which I can totally recommend although it is pricey. You can usually get them second hand in good condition and should be able to sell them on yourself for a decent price.






Walker


Walkers are wonderful from when baby first starts pulling themselves up and cruising around. They are particularly brilliant for late walkers who can keep tootling around with it in those months when friends are already toddling around.

I was a bit snooty about the V-Tech walker initially ... I had my heart set on a wooden one .. but there is a big reason why it gets so many great reviews - quite simply it's great :-)






Doll's Stroller


As soon as they can walk children love "transporting" things ... bundling up piles of stuff in bags or even better something with wheels and trundling it from place to place.

"Transporting" can pale rapidly for parents as apparently random things are deposited around the house but it is a very important stage in children's development.

A doll's stroller is a great support for transporting play and doesn't just have to be used to transport dolls. Do get them for boys as well as girls or at least an alternative which they can use to cart stuff about in. 

You can get fancy strollers like this one from Chicco when they are older but when very little something light, cheap and cheerful is best ... just watch out for the folding mechanism so they can't get their fingers trapped. 







Ride Ons


From around one children just adore ride ons in all shapes and sizes.

They give them first experience of the joy of driving themselves around and they're great for developing spatial awareness and sense of their left and their right through steering and maneuverability

We had a lovely wooden ride on with a delivery cart which I loved and which is still going strong but if I am totally honest my daughter's absolute favourite ride on of choice is the Little Tikes car which she makes a beeline for whenever she sees one.







No Pedal Trikes


No pedal trikes are in some ways just a variation of ride ons but because there structure is very similar to a pedal trike and balance bike I think they are a great stepping stone for later.

You can get some very light weight ones - we had the Scuttlebug ladybug which we love, love, loved and still have - which are suitable inside and outside and which easily fold up so they can be transported on the stroller to the park or wherever else you're going.

They don't have a way for you push or pull them ... you can improvise with a strap ... but kids can go much faster and have much more freedom than on the trikes with push handles.

The only warning I would give is that it is worth getting a helmet. Kids can come off the back of them and smack their heads.






Scooter


How cool are scooters these days?

I remember liking mine a lot but they were too heavy to go that fast and certainly couldn't take corners at speed.

The new lightweight versions ... pioneered by Micro Scooter but now available from other brands as well ... have flexible wheels and a rubber joint at the bottom which allows the steering pole to move.

Children from two can master them but if you have a small child the Micro Scooter now comes with a shorter handle and an optional seat suitable for under twos who can use it as a ride on.

Because my daughter is so small we opted for a more traditional scooter initially that had an adjustable height pole ... it was an unmitigated disaster and my daughter only learnt to scoot when the first one broke and we replaced it with a lightweight version.





Balance Bike


Balance bikes are another complete revelation!

The idea is that a two wheeler without pedals makes the transition to a full bike much easier than via a trike or stabilisers. I was a little sceptical.

It didn't seem much fun pushing with your feet and I thought it would be a bit slow.

How wrong was I?

My daughter zooms along at great speed with her feet in the air, deliberately swerving from side to side.

Just so much fun!

We have the Micro Balance Bike - which is brilliant but the Strider is also very popular.






A Big Bike?


We're now at that point - almost four - of deciding whether to get a big bike with stabilisers as friends are starting to get them.

At the moment I am tempted to hold on with the balance bike - the stabilisers seem a backward step.

I would love to hear your thoughts.



If you enjoyed this post check out the links from other brilliant bloggers at the bottom of this post and do follow my Play board on Pinterest ...





More Fun Mobility Ideas




More Fun Outdoor Ideas

6 comments:

  1. I think the little tikes cars and our John Deer tractors are are most popular ride on toys with our holiday visitors. Great for imaginative play and mobility. Thanks for joining in with Country Kids.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great collection of ideas - we have almost all of them :) right down to the models you recommend (although we have a different balance bike!). #CountryKids

    ReplyDelete
  3. I didn't know there were Micro balance bikes! I need to focus now on teaching my kids to ride bikes.
    #countrykids

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amy had exactly that play mat and she loved it. She was always trying to get from one end to the other and the different textures and hidden toys really encouraged her to move about

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great mobility toys. We have used them all and loved them all. I think my kids loved the litlte tykes car the best though.
    #Parenting pin it party Have pinned x

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for sharing at Babies and Beyond this week! We love play mats, bouncers, and ride on toys. That's as far as we've gotten so far :) I'm definitely going to look into the no pedal tricycle. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

We love to hear your best tips and advice ... please do share ...