We all want our children to be fighting fit and ready for the many challenges they will have to face throughout life. Those first trials happen early – from day one, really. The speed with which your baby starts to crawl, stand up and walk marks a new milestone every time. They are also highly competitive rites of passage. Try as you might not to get involved, you will invariably be sucked in – comparisons will be made between the apple of your eye and every other baby that you know. To make matters worse, other people will make comparisons with babies you do not know, or even worse, with babies that aren’t even babies any more.
“Yes son, but you were walking when you were seven days old and Uncle Frank was working in the factory before his second birthday.”
How clouded our memory becomes. The truth of the matter is that every baby is unique and will get round to doing things in their own sweet time. No amount of pressure from you is really going to bring forward his first steps or a full set of pearly-white teeth – but that doesn’t stop us from trying. We wouldn’t feel like effective parents if we weren’t at least encouraging development in our children. We naturally want them to succeed. We want them to be the best, the tallest, fastest, strongest. Thankfully – or conveniently – a number of manufacturers have bent over backwards to ensure that there is a massive selection of products available to ensure you can help train your baby to do absolutely anything. But buy with caution.
As with all baby gadgets, some educational products are useful and some not so useful. The main problem with the apparatus designed to help your child ‘develop’ is that babies are all very different. Just because little Emily down the road spends four hours a day in her bouncer and loves it, does not necessarily mean that your baby will. Some kids like red toys and some like blue. Every time you consider buying your child an educational gadget be prepared for the chance that it will be used once for thirty seconds and then ignored until you eventually pass it on to another child or take it to the charity shop.
On the flip side, your baby’s world should be one of adventure and discovery. Her mind needs stimulation and something different to find, and find again and again, round about every fifteen minutes. Be sure yours is a house of variety, not a barren wasteland of mum-and-dad-stuff with which Baby is not allowed to play.