Having a toddler with Down syndrome presents its own set of challenges on a daily basis, despite the joy that such a child brings. One such dilemma for many moms is finding appropriate toys. You want something that your toddler enjoys, but also toys that help foster his development. While your Down syndrome child reaches milestones at his own pace, the right play things can help him with occupational tasks, such as stacking and sorting.
You might wonder if your Down syndrome toddler will benefit from playing with puzzles. You can't expect him to put together a complex puzzle with many pieces, but those with just a few large, chunky pieces are ideal. He'll be able to manipulate the puzzle pieces easily -- and is more likely to have success at getting them into their appropriate slots. Peg board puzzles or large foam puzzles are good choices. Remember, just like other toddlers, your child needs to try to figure things out on his own, so don't be too quick to jump in and do the puzzle for him.
Down syndrome doesn't necessarily limit physical strength. Play structures are a good option for enhancing gross motor skills and for just having fun. However, you might not want to simply head to the nearest crowded playground, which might be unsafe and overwhelming for a child with Down syndrome. Instead, consider keeping small, plastic climbing toys with a slide, or a toddler swing, at home or in your own backyard. Your toddler will have some freedom to play -- and you won't have to worry that he'll get hurt.
Just like other toddlers, yours is likely to enjoy toys that make noise. No, they probably won't be your favorite, but these choices are fun for toddlers and also enhance an understanding of cause and effect, while promoting fine motor skills. Choose toys that make sounds or play music when your toddler pushes a button, turns a crank, or shakes the toy. Toys that vibrate or rattle might seem too young for your Down syndrome toddler, but they offer similar benefits and may help your child reach important milestones.
Board books are sometimes easier for Down syndrome toddlers to hold because they are thicker than other books. Reading with your toddler is vital for building his language and vocabulary skills. Incorporate chunky board and foam books into his toy box. He might not totally understand the story or the concept of grouping letters to make words, but looking at the pictures and hearing you read the stories builds on language comprehension skills.
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