Baby Box Swop UAE

What is it? Aimed at little ones from birth to three years old, a large mystery box is delivered to your door monthly packed full of different age-appropriate activities designed to help with your little one’s sensory processing and milestone development. It’s great for stay-at-home mummies who would like some structured activities, new toys or different ways to interact with their children. It’s also absolutely perfect for nannies looking after children as everything you need is included in the box.

The company representatives are brilliant at offering support and guidance and will make sure you or your nanny are happy before delivering any of the sessions.

In our box: Melissa and Doug puzzles, hand and finger puppets, bubbles, books, baby massage oil from Neal’s Yard Remedies, song words and a very detailed daily activity sheet. The length of time spent on the activities varied, but would average about 20 minutes.

On day 10, for example, the instructions were to place your baby on the floor, put the finger puppet on and tickle baby on his neck, toes, ears and cheeks. Then use the massage oil to gently rub baby’s feet and toes while singing ‘This little Donkey’ and at the end when singing one ‘wee wee wee all the way home’, run your fingers up baby’s leg and tickle his tummy. This activity promotes emotional bonding, massage and tactile stimulation.

The experience: Having an activity to carry out each day focuses your attention on your child’s development. If it’s a tactile experience, you find yourself applying the same techniques each day, questioning their progress after the session has finished. Each time the box made its appearance, broad grins would appear on one of the twin’s faces (Baby Box recommends that the sessions are all individual, even when there are siblings involved, and I found that it allowed me to focus on just one child at a time and give them 100 per cent of my attention). They loved the puzzles, hand puppets and baby massage – something I had stopped a while ago, but which has been quickly reintroduced. I enjoyed trying something new with them each day that was not only fun but supporting their development.

The verdict: The twins engaged and interacted with all the tasks, it was easy and enjoyable to deliver and interesting to watch their reactions and responses. We are looking forward to our next box being delivered.

Details: Boxes start from Dh350 per month. For more information see www.babyboxswopuae.com or contact the company at 050 451 3153 or info@babyboxswopuae.com.

Five free ways to develop your child’s key skills

Kirsty shares her favourite activities for focusing on essential areas of development

Speaking and listening Reading books to your child from a young age is a great way for them to learn about the patterns of speech as well as a love of books. Listening to you having conversations around the dinner table, and with family and friends will model speaking skills and inspire them to starting chattering. It’s important to pause when talking to encourage them to answer, to point and name objects in a book or around the house and talk to your child about what you are doing to widen their vocabulary. Also sing songs and add actions to words, for example waving your hand when saying goodbye.

Gross motor skills Physical play, whether it’s running, jumping, swimming, throwing or kicking balls of different sizes, helping with sweeping the floor or the vacuum cleaner all help to develop the big muscles. One of my favourites is letting children help to empty the washing machine – pulling and heaving out the wet clothes then helping to hang them up. All this exercise is a great way to tire them out too!

Fine motor skills Whether it’s picking up a spoon, turning the pages of a book, holding and scribbling with a chubby wax crayon, using safe scissors or a paint brush, or stacking boxes, these precise finger, thumb, hand and wrist movements are vital in their development. Encourage them to spread butter on toast, undo the Velcro on their shoes and get dressed and undressed. You could also get them manipulating sand with a bucket and spade. Or you could simply try letting them pinch, squeeze and punch play dough. For inspiration and play recipes see Kidsactivitiesblog.com/49815/best-play-recipes

Thinking and cognitive development These skills can be encouraged by looking at pictures in a book, pointing to objects and to body parts. Solving puzzles, beginning to count, building towers, lining up toys and sorting them into different colours are all developing thinking skills. Also ask your child to listen for specific noises such as a dog barking or the birds singing, encourage them to make a choice – “Would you like to wear a red or blue tee shirt?”, count everything from the number of steps to the books on the shelves, and sing familiar nursery rhymes with actions.

Social skills The chances are that your little one has more play dates, soft play invites and birthday parties on the calendar than you, but these are so important. Learning how to take turns, sharing toys and games, how to be helpful and caring and how to treat people with courtesy and politeness are all essential skills to develop. Dubai is such a young city with lots of mummies and there are so many playgroup options available.

3 more boxes for mums and bubs

Marhababy

This free box for pregnant women is packed full of maternity-friendly samples and gifts, and baby products so you can try before you buy, as well as special offers and discount vouchers for relevant stores and services around town. All you do is sign up online at Marhababy.com, and then you’ll be sent a personal voucher by email, which you can redeem at the Babyshop store of your choice.

Mama’s Box

These feature a range of full-size products tailored to your stage of pregnancy or the age of your little one. With everything from clothing and accessories to toiletries, books, toys and weaning aids, the boxes can be ordered as a one-off or as part of a monthly subscription. From Dh220 per box, www.mamas-box.com.

Happy Box

Geared up for little ones aged two to 11, these monthly boxes are delivered straight to your home and come packed full of fun activities that kids can do with a parent or guardian, with step-by-step instructions included. Every month has a different theme, and boxes are customised to your child’s age and sex. Dh250 per box if you buy one, or Dh200 per box when you get a year’s subscription, www.thehappybox.ae.