Babies with Down Syndrome (DS) need the same things every other baby needs. They are babies! But parents with DS children may want to be more selective in the types of toys that they buy, to ensure that they are suitable for their baby's development and because it is playing through which kids learn.

While picking toys for your infant with Down syndrome, it's critical to remember a few things. First off, your infant's low muscle tone can make reaching, grasping, and handling certain toys challenging. And, you can't generally depend on an item's suggested age suitability because your infant may achieve developmental milestones somewhat later than their equivalent age peers do. A toy is fitting if your child's interest is stimulated and she/he can draw in with it. Toys that provide multiple sensory inputs are great for kids with Down Syndrome. 

Dr Ladimari Toledo Hoeppler, PhD Managing Director, Social Skills Development / Independent Living skills at Dubai Down Syndrome Centre, shares some of the toys and tools that work well for DS babies...

1. Sensory Play Mat

Playgro Play in the Park Activity Gym, available at Babyshop for Dh145

This play mat stimulates vision and color recognition with its rich hues; enhances fine motor skills with its push-button music player and puzzles; and promotes exploration and awareness with a peekaboo mirror.

2. Floor mirror

Crib and Floor Mirror, available at Souq.com for Dh258

This crib and floor mirror should help encourage your baby to lift her/his head and chest and improve muscle tone. The textured ladybug, caterpillar, and ball around the mirror promote the use of fine motor skills, including reaching, touching, and grasping.

3. Textured rattle

Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Starry Rattle, available at Just Kidding for Dh30

 The various textures on this rattle's handle, along with the rubber balls and teething ring encourage touching, grasping and mouthing. Multicolored rings clack when shaken and stimulate hearing and vision.

4. Soft activity book

Fisher-Price Baby's First Activity Book, available at Babyshop for Dh89

The tough, sturdy construction of this audio-enhanced book makes it a great first read for little ones. Your baby can practice the fine motor skill of pointing and pushing the button sound bar to connect words with pictures. The audio boosts language development and speech (simple books with big pictures are great as well).

5. Push toy

Toby Push 'N Go Crawling Dog, available at Souq.com for Dh51

 Just a small push or swipe of the hands will set this toy into motion, encouraging your baby to crawl after it. The fun rattling sounds stimulate hearing.

6. Play blocks

Shape sorter, available at IKEA for Dh39

Peek-a-blocks shapes: Your baby's hand-eye coordination gets a boost as she tries to place shapes into the correct places with this toy. Better yet, when your child succeeds, she/he is rewarded with sounds and music. The rattling blocks feature vivid pictures, adding to your baby's sensory development.

7. Puppy ride

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy, available at Desertcart for Dh754

Laugh and Learn to stride to ride Puppy:  Watch your baby's balance and coordination improve as he progresses from sitting on the puppy to pushing it as a walker to riding it as his little legs make it go. This "talking" pup also provides lessons in letters, numbers, colors, and shapes

8. Musical baby gym

Fisher Price Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym, for Dh719.50

This sensory play mat and gym encourages babies to stretch their muscles and improve strength and co-ordination, as well as stimulating hearing and fine motor skills with the many sounds and textures.

9. Squidgie ball

Aerobie Squidgie Ball, unavailable in the UAE currently

The soft moulded rubber fins on the Squidgie Ball make it easy for little hands to pick up, hold on to, throw, and catch. They're excellent for improving fine motor skills.

10. Baby piano

Music And Lights Piano Kick Pad, available at noon.com for Dh124.95

Little fingers can use musical sounds to learn about numbers, colours, and songs. The singsong piano tunes foster language development while the vibrantly coloured piano keys make the corresponding coloured balls pop, teaching the concept of cause and effect.

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