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      It’s been a busy month. The Pregnancy and Baby fair was a huge success. I was on hand to give advice about Teetha and Spatone and it was great to meet so many Mums to be and new Mums like myself. It was double the size of last year with some great products that I hope to share with you over the coming months.

      Congrats to Helena from Giddy Studios who recently opened their new premises in Dundrum. It was a great day especially for James who got his 1st footprint done. We painted it blue and pressed it onto a plate. He loved the whole experience. Giddy do a variety of keepsakes and the activities are also great stimulation for kids which got me thinking about this month’s column.

      I often watch James and I’m fascinated by his reactions to colours and objects. Certain sounds cause facial expressions of wonder and awe. He’s seeing, touching, tasting and smelling everything for the 1st time so I decided to find out, what toys are better at different stages and just how do they help with development?

      Jody from believes there are 3 main things a toy should do at this stage:

      • • Provide sensory stimulation – anything that makes noise, is interesting to look at and has vivid contrasting patterns and geometrical shapes. Anything with a face has additional value.
      • • Reward for movement – which is essential for young developing muscles. Anything that gets your baby moving and that provides reward in the form of something that moves or makes a noise is good and finally
      • • Encourage development of motor skills – anything that requires a certain kind of movement to make something happen will engage your baby and get them concentrating on what they’re doing.

      Jody runs the site with his wife Melanie and the quality of the products are fantastic. They’re both beautiful and durable which is important as James seems to destroy everything in his path. He’s a true boy in every sense of the word. As my Grandfather would say ‘it does your heart good to see them so happy’. He loves colour and adores music. It’s great to see them experimenting with the sound of their own voice although the more recent high pitched scream I could do without or maybe it’s the beginning of his singing career! I caught my Mum recently trying to fine tune his voice by playing the accordion to him. I do worry that this might have the opposite effect though…

      I now take James to a weekly playgroup called Claphandies. He absolutely loves it. I’m learning so much about his personality, what stimulates him and what he’s not so fond of. Babies develop so fast. You get used to one stage and in the blink of an eye they’re changing.

      Hard as it can be being a new parent, the good definitely outweighs the bad. Sleepy and bleary eyed, one little smile makes it all worthwhile. Every day he does something new and for me it’s just one more thing to be proud of.

      Child’s Play

      Claphandies is the brainchild of Liza Crotty. It gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with your baby as we all know how distracting and busy life can be.

      The first three years of a child’s life are the most important for learning all the intellectual and emotional skills they need to grow and thrive. ClapHandies PlayLabs are designed to help parents learn the best way to play effectively with their child so they learn to engage and explore the world around them. The PlayLabs encourage developmental play in a fun and creative environment, focusing on inspiring play ideas to encourage a baby’s progress through key developmental areas including motor skills, spacial awareness, language, hearing, and cognitive skills.

      Through play, little ones are also learning how to do things and complete tasks independent of you, this is so valuable as they learn self-reliance and the ability to figure out what makes them happy and interested. They learn about themselves through play as well. Simple tickle games on the hand or foot are teaching body awareness, playing with telephones allows them to act like the adults around them. Play teaches them about concepts, relationships, sizes, colours, textures,
      emotions and sounds among other things!

      ClapHandies is an Irish company that launched in 2006, the PlayLabs
      currently run in nine venues across Dublin and surrounding areas with ten new
      venues being launched next term, Baby PlayLabs start from 6 weeks, then there’s Wobblers and Toddlers for more info see or call Liza on 0879196042. If you can’t make the class don’t worry as you can always pick up tips from the playtips blog

      Mum’s Must Haves

      This is one of my favourites: wooden blocks with a twist. When your baby is small, she will love to manipulate them, mouth them and look at them – they’re a real feast for the senses. When baby gets older, she will begin to shake them and stack them and get sensory reward for their efforts. €19.99 at

      This Suction Activity Toy can be kept in place on a counter, car window or other smooth surface with the suction cup at the base. From 6 months; €14.99 at

      Follow Me Fred is €21.99. There is also a Follow me Fiona, in pink at the same price. Available from Smyths toy stores nationwide.

      Suitable from approximately 6-12 months the Brevi Gio Walker is an activity centre, baby walker and also a rocker. There are 14 toys that reward baby with lights, sounds and lots of fun which will develop a baby’s motor senses. The seat rotates 360º so as to allow the baby reach for the toys surrounding them. €79.99 at Smyths toy stores.

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