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Kelly Bos

Bringing home a second baby is always a big adjustment for the first baby, and my daughter was no exception. As a therapist and mom, I wanted to help my daughter with this transition. Change—no matter how wonderful—can be challenging.

She loves her little brother and has already taken ownership of him, calling him “her baby” even before he was born. She often tries to find ways she can help out. A favourite is undoing the diaper for me. She asks about his bodily functions and praises him if he has only peed in his diaper, despite me explaining that we kind of need him to poop. She is also a really good fetcher of wipes and errant socks and an excellent reporter, letting me know if he is stirring or when he has started to cry.

I want to make sure that I consistently remind her of her value in this new situation and because I know she likes to help, find additional ways she can assist me and and feel involved as a big sister.

Recently I had an idea. Why not let her help choose teachable toys for her baby brother to use, manipulate, and learn from?

Having her help me with his milestones might be a great experience for both of my children. (And for me too!)

I can talk to her about what he is learning at each stage and what he will be learning at stages in the future so she can recognize how he is developing and how she can encourage him.

A great place to start is with toys. I have asked her to help pick out some great today for her brother— that he can use with his eyes, ears, hands, and mouth and that can help him develop his language. She is excited about this as she likely feels closer to the targeted demographic than we are.

Her favourite types of toys are educational ones that sing and move. She still picks up toddler toys, even though she is past that age, so when looking for a toy for her brother, we needed to find something you could learn and move with and—frankly—dance to. So I was excited when we were sent the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy's Learning Car to test out.

Baby brother isn't quite ready to use it yet, as it is appropriate for ages 6 months to 36 months, but big sister has thoroughly tested this little car and loves it. She noticed that by having the experience of pushing the car—something she feels her brother will happily do “because boys love cars”—it activates sounds, phrases, and songs. It is colourful and engaging. One of the best things about this toy is that it has all the punch of a bigger toy but is actually quite portable, easy to transport to grandparents, to playgroup or in a suitcase.

When she saw that the little car teaches ABCs and numbers, we talked about how she can show that to him and help him learn it by singing along. She is very excited about the idea of being able to teach him things — and I have sneakily highlighted the need for good modeling of beahviour.

The car also teaches greetings and opposites. When he is a bit older, I have a sneaking suspicion my boy will enjoy the racing car sounds and that the monkey driver doubles as a rattle. I love that it also has experiential learning by showing cause and effect, push: it moves, roll: the sounds come and encourages the use of all the senses. It is very tactile for a little one.

The End Result?

Currently my daughter is laughing, learning, and racing the car around the living room. I would say it has passed the test of our family's little product reviewer. And I just know that she will have a blast teaching “her baby”  how to use all the fun features when he gets old enough.

Now on to her thoughts on teething rings...

- See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/kelly-flannigan-bos-the-relationship-rescuer/20140320/how-toys-can-help-children-reach-milestones#sthash.glC9M0LS.dpuf