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Benefits of a rocking horse for your baby and toddler
A baby rocking horse toy is something our western societies have adopted in our nurseries for centuries. Why should you buy one? And is a rocking horse good for babies and toddlers? Here, we are giving you some tips on what benefits a rocking horse can bring to children’s early childhood development journey as sensory toys and toys to develop gross motor skills.
In this article, we will look at the benefits in three different aspects: Physical and Sensory Benefits; Special Needs Benefits; and Emotional and Mental Benefits
Physical and Sensory Benefits
Develop mobility and motor skills
As part of an essential phase of early childhood development and baby growth, motor skills development is proven to be crucial for your baby and toddler. Probably most of us will be able to recognise the physical benefit of a rocking toy on promoting GROSS and FINE motor skills. Baby and toddler rocking horses help build the GROSS MOTOR SKILL by training the use of their larger muscle groups particularly their upper body strength to keep them upright on the rocking toy.
Don’t underestimate the potential of a baby rocking animal developing their FINE MOTOR SKILL. Manipulating the handlebars, placing their body parts (like legs and arms) at the right place of the rocking horse all encourage the coordination between the hands, arms, legs, and feet.
Improve their balancing ability
By improving their fine motor skills, the smaller muscles of your little one will start helping their body to fine-tune the balancing act required to play on a rocking horse or animal.
Rocking movements actually help stimulate the vestibular (inner ear) system, which is another crucial part of our body to create our balance. In the beginning, we would recommend parents to help your baby and toddler to learn how to use the rocking horse. Guide them through the movement required to make the rocker move. Help them practise while their body starts to remember how their body is balancing itself until they can fully handle the toy on their own.
An introduction to rhythm
Fine motor skills can work with the brain to create a sense of rhythm. When they are using a rocking horse, whether they are rocking, or sitting on it, their brains are sensing the rhythm during their slow and fast movements. Combining with what their body muscles are doing at the time, they will start to remember how to move their body to create a certain way of rhythm. How they can rock it faster, or slower, are all down to the sense of rhythm along with the physical development they can benefit from having a lovely rocking horse.
Develop visual perception
Just as the sense of rhythm, their visual sensations are stimulated while they are playing with a rocking toy. Rocking horses for toddlers will offer excellent visual exercise. But more so from a younger baby point of view, they may be 6 months old and they are guided by you when sitting on the rocking horse. They probably won’t know what they are doing, but they enjoy the different viewpoints they are offered via the movement of the rockers. Visual perception is also part of the ingredients for them to learn how to move around in the space, hence it helps develop their balancing skills, and motor skills in the end.
Special Needs Benefits
Benefits for sensory processing disorder and autism
Our customers have certainly expressed to us that rocking horses are great sensory toys for autism and autistic children. These kids rocking horses are perfect autism toys for some autistic children, who sometimes have an innate tendency to rock back and forth. Autistic children also enjoy toys that they can easily play alone without having to socially interact. A good rocking horse could give them that refuge to go to when they are overstimulated and stressed.
For example, we carry a range of wooden old-fashioned styled handmade rocking horses, that can cater to children from 3 years old to up to 12 years old, even an average size adult can find themselves sitting on them solidly! These horses allow autistic children to use for as long as possible without parents having to worry how long the rocking horse may last.
We mentioned before that a rocking horse can be a good sensory toy for rhythms and balancing. It certainly seems to be proven by parents of children with a sensory processing disorder that a rocking horse toy can last for years because it is such a toy that can benefit the development of their sensory systems! (Referred to this blog post)
Emotional and Mental Benefits
Rocking horses create a soothing effect
It’s in our innate preference that babies prefer to be rocked back and forth by their parents when they are newborn which you probably have experienced as a parent. Babies often manage to fall asleep easily in our arms or in a swinging basket after some rocking movement has been applied. A soothing effect is somehow generated to calm down your little one in the process.
Encourage creativity and independent play
Our philosophy is always to encourage creativity and independent play via our toys. Rocking horses and animals allow your little one to imagine their world of cowboys or princess stories. A good plush fluffy and quality rocking horse can simply be the best bedroom buddy and companion for your baby and toddler. These all promote the idea of independent play. Their rocking toy can be part of their bigger stage in their own world of imagination. They can decide how they want to play with the rocking toys.
Encourage sharing and cooperation
On the other hand, when your child is playing with their siblings or other children, a lovely bigger toy like this, it can teach them the magic of sharing and cooperation. These don’t come naturally and their willingness to listen, share, and cooperate can be developed by sharing their lovely rocking animal with their siblings and friends. Building this level of thinking as early as possible can truly prevent a lack of social skills when they grow older.
We have established the many benefits of rocking horses for your baby and toddler, in terms of physical and sensory benefits, special needs benefits, and emotional and mental benefits.
You would realise some of these benefits may not give you a definite answer to questions like, what age is good for a rocking horse, or how long will a rocking horse last for. The best rocking horses for your baby or toddler or even young child may last for longer than you expect as they can continuously provide the benefits for your children!
The next question is, how to pick the best rocking horse for your little one?
We have a great blog post to help you learn how you can find and choose the best rocking horse for different ages of babies, toddlers and children. You will learn how to decide via longevity, quality and safety, and many other factors to find the right rocking toy for your family.
(You can click on the image to access to the blog post)
Here is our full range of rocking horses and animals our shop carries. We specialise in quality made traditional styled and modern looking rocking horses and animals. Many of them are UK designed and can be personalised with your baby’s name on. Take a look now!