I was so excited to have the opportunity to try out three engaging and educational toys from VTech. We received the Lil’ Critters Play & Dream Musical Piano™, Roll & Surprise Animal Train™, and the Chomp & Count Dino™. My children are 7 years, 4 years, and 8 months in age, and I would have to say the toys were a huge hit with all three. I love how interactive the toys are, and they are all well designed to cater to a wide age range.
VTech has an Expert Panel composed of specialists in early childhood development. These experts are all trained to the doctorate level and have significant education and training in child development and psychology. The Expert Panel is compiled of six experts including Dr. Lise Eliot, Early Childhood Mental Development Expert. Dr. Lise Eliot is Associate Professor of Neuroscience at The Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science. In addition to more than 50 published peer-reviewed journal articles and magazine pieces on children’s brain and mental development, Dr. Eliot has authored two books. Dr. Eliot collaborated with VTech to develop the Milestones resource. A video of Dr. Eliot describing this resource can be found here, and a brief overview is below:
• The milestones are broken down by ages that range from newborn to nine years old.
• Each age range is broken down by three categories of learning:
o Language and Cognitive
o Social and Emotional Development
o Physical and Motor
• The categories explain different characteristics and developments that your child is faced with at a specified age and is then followed by recommended products that best cater to your child.
My youngest is 8 months old. He is very mobile, babbles constantly, and is extremely curious and interactive with his environment. And he’s teething. My older children are technically past the target age ranges for these toys, but they did not let that fact stop them from sharing in the fun with their brother (or, occasionally, without him!). My son has met the milestones for 6-9 month olds listed on the VTech Milestones page. I’ll copy them from the website here for easy reference. (My son has met all of these, to some degree, at this point.)
Language & Cognitive
- Understands family member’s names and familiar words such as “blankie” and “bottle”
- Responds appropriately to own name
- Babbling becomes more complex and may contain a recognizable “mama” or “dada”
- Explores their environment using all senses
- Holds a book and vocalizes or pats pictures while being read to
Physical & Motor
- Sits independently and may begin to crawl
- Stands while holding onto a low table or sturdy toy
- Begins holding objects between thumb and forefinger (pincer grasp)
Social & Emotional
- Follows your attention when you are looking at something
- Enjoys “peek-a-boo” and other surprise games
- Fusses when Mom or Dad leaves the room
Several interested parents were given the opportunity to submit questions to VTech Expert, Dr. Lise Eliot. Two questions that were relevant to my family and their answers are posted below here along with Dr. Eliot’s responses.
I have taught all three of my children signs for basic needs starting at an early age. In my experience, it has reduced frustration for my children, my husband and me, and their caregivers at their daycare. My son has recently picked up the sign for “milk.”
Q. What are some of the benefits of teaching children sign language at a young age to help improved their cognitive, motor and social skills? How can teaching sign language to my child help promote more than language development? How can sign language help stimulate a child’s brain in other ways?
A. The research on sign language is not terribly strong, but enough has been done to indicate that sign language may benefit your child's overall language development. The more words addressed to babies, whether spoken or gestured, the faster their own vocabulary growth. Sign language also has the advantage that it is easier for babies to communicate using simple gestures, compared to oral articulation. So especially in the first year of life, some babies find it easier to communicate their needs when taught simple signs, and may express less frustration than infants who were not exposed to baby signing.
As I mentioned, I have two older children, as well as my infant son. While I do not think of the older two’s accomplishments in terms of milestones anymore, it makes perfect sense that they are still reaching milestones at their ages (7 and 4).
Q. How do doctors come up with specific milestones for each age group? What are some milestones for older age groups (up to age 9)?
A. Infant developmental milestones have been cataloged by studying thousands of babies from all walks of life. In healthy children, the various milestones emerge in a predictable sequence and time, give or take a few weeks or months. This predictable pattern is due to the maturation sequence of the developing brain, along with the typical sequence of practice most babies engage in, given their gradually growing strength and coordination. Some milestones you can look for as your child gets older include: able to draw a circle at age 3, asking lots of "Why" questions at age 4, knowing his or her letters at age 5, tying shoes at age 6, reading aloud fluently at age 7, and a big spurt of social independence beginning at 8-9.
Lil’ Critters Play & Dream Musical Piano™
(Ages 0-12 months; MSRP $24.99)
• Learn and play music with animal friends! The Lil’ Critters Play & Dream Musical Piano by VTech has a variety of fun musical activities that engage your child on the floor or attached to the crib.
• This soft piano features five animal piano keys that introduce music, instruments and animals.
• The piano also includes a light-up sun that shines and flashes to the music to attract your baby’s attention.
• Choose from two modes of play for fun learning and music activities.
|He loves to watch the sun and music notes light up while music was playing. He crawls over the "keys" to play the piano, and he pats the critters to make music.|
|This is his favorite toy configuration: something to hold himself up with while he "walks" all over the Lil’ Critters Play & Dream Musical Piano making his own music!|
Roll & Surprise Animal Train™
(Ages 6-36 months; MSRP: $15.99)
• Your little one will enjoy peek-a-boo fun and develop fine motor skills through turn, slide and press activities with the Roll & Surprise Animal Train.
• Animal friends introduce animal names, animal sounds and colors.
• This educational toy also rewards curiosity and teaches cause and effect with pop-up surprises and 55 songs, melodies, sounds, and phrases.
|The train sings songs and lights up, and each animal describes itself when it pops up. My little guy likes to explore the pull-string with his mouth while listening to the music.|
Chomp & Count Dino™
(Ages 12-36 months; MSRP: $19.99)
• Simply place one of the eight brightly-colored play pieces in Chomp & Count Dino’s mouth and watch as he eats and recognizes each piece.
• Play in either food or counting mode and the dino responds with rewarding sounds and phrases all while introducing colors, numbers, shapes and more.
• Press the question button and kids can answer the dino’s questions to show what they’ve learned.
• Five shape buttons help kids learn shapes and numbers, while spinning the disc on the dino’s back will play sing-along songs.
• The dino can also be pushed or pulled by a string for even more fun melodies.
|He loves the light on top of Chomp & Count Dino's head. He "talks" back to Dino while patting him.|
|He is either kissing Dino or trying to eat him. Could really go either way.|
|Notice, no baby in sight...|
|On the go!!|
The VTech toys we tried out are tailored to give children opportunities to develop skills that could help them meet their developmental milestones. The resources available to parents on the VTech website give parents access to important information to help them understand infants' and children's development. We found all of the toys to be very engaging and entertaining, and I enjoy watching my children play and learn at their developmentally appropriate level while interacting with the toys.
Win ItOne of my readers will receive all three of the Vtech toys mentioned in this post!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Contest ends at 11:59pm EST on December 10th when I will draw a winner at random. Please leave your email address if it is not visible on your profile. I will notify the winner and they will have 24 hours to respond!
Open to US Only.
Thank you to the company and/or PR who provided the products for review and giveaway. The opinions are solely my own and may vary from others.