It’s April. That was the very realisation that crept up on me this week; that we are already a quarter of the way through 2018. April is the month that marks Madeleine’s first birthday, which is really exciting, but also a bit overwhelming. As a first-time parent myself, it is only now (with the benefit of hindsight) that I can appreciate how quickly the baby phase passes, and can absorb the extent to which my once newborn bundle has changed.
With that premise in mind, I thought that it would be great to share some of the things that Madeleine has adored over the last month. Babies make their seventh developmental leap at around eleven months old, so this is the perfect time to record their new interests as they have suddenly changed. I hope that these suggestions prove useful to any parents or parents-to-be, and that they compel you to document or capture your little ones’ loves too.
TEN LITTLE PRINCESSES BY MIKE BROWNLOW
As I mentioned in my last blog post, Madeleine adores books. Therefore, it will probably come as no surprise that included within these favourites is a story. This month, I have found that Madeleine has made a real transition in terms of the type of books that she enjoys. She will now happily sit and listen to a tale, even if there are not textures to explore or flaps to lift.
Ten Little Princesses is fantastic if you are looking to introduce your developing baby to the world of narrative. Brownlow uses rhyme to count down from ten to one, using characters of his choosing. Each part of the story references a different fairy tale classic, so the seventh princess, for example, is blown away by a big bad wolf. I love that this book limits the amount of text that it puts on each page, and contains beautifully detailed illustrations. It has really helped me to maintain Madeleine’s interest, as it allows me to point and show her how bits of the tale relate to the pictures she sees.
Madeleine reaches for this book again and again, which is testament to how exciting this story is. Luckily, Brownlow has released an entire series of tales, so there are plenty for us to still invest in.
TEA AND TOASTER SET BY EARLY LEARNING CENTRE
In addition to the transition that Madeleine has made in her approach to books, so too has her interest in toys changed. She now loves to explore every facet of an item; in fact, the more interactive it is, the better. I have been searching avidly for items that will prove engaging for Madeleine and will aid her development, and found that this tea and toaster set ticked both of those boxes.
The toaster contains three little buttons that, when pressed, either say a phrase, play a tune or prompt a motion (e.g. popping up the toast). It also has a bar to the centre that moves back and forth between different pictures, and announces the word for each as it is pushed (honey, jam etc.). Madeleine loves both of these elements, as it rewards her for every action that she takes. Moreover, I have observed that her fine motor skills are improving as she engages with the toy in this way, which is brilliant to see.
The tea pot is fascinating too for little hands. Using the handle, it can be tilted so that its transparent centre lights up and pouring sounds play. Moreover, with the press of a button the settings will change; then, the melody that will follow will be that of a cold drink being shared. I will often hold the cup (which is included in the set), and will help Madeleine ‘pour the tea’ from the pot. That has served as a great introduction for her, to imaginative play.
Without doubt then, there are many fantastic facets to this toy and it is not difficult to see why it has been so loved by Madeleine. It has really captured and maintained her interest, and has fuelled her curious mind.
BUILD-A-BEAT STACKER BY FISHER PRICE
I am sure that every parent can agree that babies love to make mess. Madeleine peaked at this ‘talent’ a few month ago, as she seemed to relish disassembling and tossing everything that was within her grasp. However, to my surprise, more recently I have found that she likes to carry out the very opposite behaviours; this has been so exciting to watch. Madeleine now places items carefully and with complete concentration. She loves to try and pile objects on top of each other, whether that’s using rings or with wooden blocks.
The Build-A-Beat stacker is another variation of this idea, and will aid babies and toddlers as they attempt to master such a skill. The toy consists of a base, and four ‘boogie buddies’. When any of these characters are pressed onto the stand, a series of lights will appear, and the base will begin to play a song. Madeleine loves this, because it provides her with instant gratification for her efforts.
The boogie buddies have been carefully designed so that they will stack onto one another with ease. Their hollow centre also enables little hands to grip them with no effort, and their rubber ears serve as the perfect teething device. In addition, each creature contains a number of rattle beads. So, when Madeleine dances as the base plays a beat, she is able to shake another character too.
This toy has been a clear favourite of Madeleine’s this month, but it has also been mine. It has been great to see her hand-eye co-ordination develop through such use, and I have no doubt that it will tune her fine motor skills too.
BEAT BO BY FISHER PRICE
Madeleine loves this toy by Fisher Price. BeatBo is a robot that sings, talks, dances and moves. He has a bright LED, grid-like tummy that glows in various colours. His ears and hands are malleable and soft to the touch, which is great for curious hands like Madeleine’s that love to grab and, more importantly, eat everything.
By far the most exciting element of this toy, though, are the three buttons on BeatBo’s feet. The first plays upbeat music which encourages Madeleine to wiggle. I love to push this as she crawls, since she will instantly freeze and begin rocking back and forth, and grin excitedly too. The second button plays songs that aid learning; BeatBo sings about the alphabet, numbers and colours. Finally, the last asks your baby to record a message, and then BeatBo sings it back to them. Whilst madeleine’s language is only beginning to develop, she still loves to babble into it and chuckles when she hears herself back.
BeatBo has provided Madeleine with hours of entertainment and laughter, and I am excited to see how she responds to it as she continues to grow and develop.
MUSLIN SWADDLE BLANKETS BY LITTLE BLUE BABY NEST
I couldn’t end these favourites without including one of my own. It is not, as such, new, but an item that I have reignited my love for this month. I first purchased these muslin blankets when Madeleine was around a month old. I found that not only were they beautifully designed and made, but they were also a complete lifeline for us. I would swaddle madeleine in them, and she would settle happily in her crib for prolonged periods during the night.
Now, as the sun has finally shone once more, and it has become much warmer, I have found myself reaching for them again. They are perfect to place over Madeleine in the pram, since they are lightweight and big enough that they can be comfortably tucked in around her. In addition, these blankets are the perfect accessory for impromptu park picnics. When folded up they can easily fit into a changing bag or pram basket, yet unfolded they are big enough to seat myself and Madeleine comfortably.
In short then, they are extremely versatile, the prints are lovely, and the quality is fantastic; they still look as good today (after numerous washes) as the day I purchased them. They are perfect for each stage of baby and toddlerhood, and I can’t recommend them enough.
Are there any items that your little one’s have adored recently? Do you have any products that you would recommend for this stage and beyond? I would love to hear your suggestions!