At birth a baby’s eyesight is very limited; it is hard for them to focus, and they cannot see very far from their own face (about 30cm). Black and white images with sharp outlines are therefore much easier for baby to see in these first few months of life.
‘Black and white contrasting pictures maximise visual stimulation and appear to encourage infant development in the early months’. – Jennifer Gregor, Paediatric doctor, Melbourne, Australia.
Research has proven that black and white contrasts register powerfully on baby’s retina and send the strongest visual signals to baby’s brain. Stronger signals mean more brain growth and faster visual development. Surround a baby with soft pastel colours, and you might as well be blindfolding him. Surround your baby with black and white or light and dark pictures, and watch your baby’s eyes light up.
With this in mind, two friends with a great set of skills between them and a passion for bringing new ideas to life, got together to launch the Little + Sleepy newborn kit.
Kat Merewether is a New Zealand illustrator and author, currently achieving massive success with her own range of books about a little kiwi called Kuwi. Anneliese works with NZ artists developing ranges of products for the NZ gift market through her company Tikitibu
The gift set is a combination of products created to assist newborns with sleep and settling routines, the board book, soft pillow, and parents sleep journal come in a lovely canvas bag. The Little + Sleepy Board Books are designed to engage babies right from birth, with bold black and white graphics that babies can actually see. Designed to help mum and dad establish really healthy sleep time routines by reading to them from day one, and because the babies can actually see the books they respond to it, so its great feedback for new parents.
Further down the track, the book is a great first reader particularly for children suffering from dyslexia. The rationale for this is that the author is dyslexic herself, so she has designed the book in a dyslexic-friendly format, from the fonts to the non-use of any glyphs or serifs that can present reading obstacles. The sentence structure is also designed to be easy to read, using repetition and onomatopoeia rather than forced rhyme, so it is more natural to read aloud and encourage a relaxed transition to sleep.
As babies grow and the story is understood the soft Pillow Toy becomes a tool for getting little ones to sleep, “Now you have to go to sleep so Sleepy Koala can wake up and look over you,” when the book and toy are combined they can be used as a special bedtime trick.
The Sleepy Journal is an amazing tool for mums and dads. Right from birth mums and dads are encouraged to record all the up and down times of babies so they can track where they are at with sleep times and feed times. This journal helps parents continue this on until they have found their feet. And once baby has grown it makes a lovely keepsake journal to look back on.
Tips on Reading to Your Baby
Prenatal – From 24 weeks
Studies show that unborn babies respond to the rhythm of being read to. They will move about and kick. Studies by DeCasper and Fifer (1980) and Kolata (1984) found that infants who were read ‘A Cat in a Hat’ twice a day 6.5 weeks before birth would suck more if they heard ‘A Cat in a Hat’ read by their mother rather than an unfamiliar children’s poem ‘The King, the Mice, and the Cheese’, also read by the infants’ mothers. The parents of the unborn child can stimulate their infant and develop early communication skills by introducing their child to music and reading right from the start. The development of listening before birth is vital to the progression of listening and attention skills after birth.
0 to six months
Since a babies eyesight is still developing, choose books with little or no text and big, high-contrast pictures. Monochrome works best. Comprehending the words isn’t really the point with babies this young. For infants, reading is about the tone of your voice and cuddling up to you.
7 to 12 months
Halfway through their first year, babies may begin to grasp some of the words read to them. The most meaningful words are the names and things from their everyday life — words like “dog,” “mummy,” “daddy,” “ball”. Books with just one object or person per age are best. Point to the pictures they show interest in. And act out what you read with your face, hands, and voice. Let the baby babble back to you in return. This “conversation” helps them learn to take turns and teaches them about focusing on the same thing as someone else.
13 to 18 months
Begin to introduce books with a sentence or two per page. Act the stories out and bring them to life for children, here they will start to mimic you. For instance, if you’re reading about animals, make animal noises. Sooner or later, they will “moo” or “baa” back to you and you’ll be ready to fall off the couch laughing.
19 to 24 months
Many toddlers find the familiar routine of reading reassuring and calming. The same goes for familiar books. This helps explain why, starting at about 18 months, children may ask for the same book over and over and over — and why they won’t let you change your reading performance by a single “meow” or “vroom.” This continued repetition is how they learn new words.
When you think about it, books really do make the perfect newborn and baby gifts. Happy reading!
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About Axis Toys
Since 2004, Axis Toys has specialised in distributing quality imports for Australia and New Zealand within the toy, gift and lifestyle markets sourced locally and from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Poland Spain and China. Our quality product range is primarily niche oriented – each product bringing a very strong point of difference to its category. All our suppliers’ products conform to the latest safety standards and we are able to supply disclaimers for each supplier to verify this fact.
Axis Toys is the exclusive distributor in Australia and New Zealand for DoodleArt, Goetz, Lundby Dollhouses, Micki, Miniland Educational, PlayBox, Plasto, Sassi Junior, Chic Bayer 2000, Skrallen, Leolandia, Kiddus, Cayro, Wooden Story, Little + Sleepy and Goldfish Gifts. They are also the developers of the ColourAway and Scribbla brands. They are the exclusive distributor for WWF in Australia and the agent for Steiff Bears in Australia and New Zealand. Axis Toys is a member of the Australian Toy Association.