Cyber Monday has us thinking about shopping so we thought we’d share some favorite holiday gift ideas for adoptive families. Here is the “top 10 list” that Katie and I generated this morning. It’s not comprehensive but we think these are all worthy and purposeful gifts. And hey, these are not only great ideas for the family parenting the child who waited, but also for all families interested in promoting attachment and optimizing brain development.
#1: Double Sized Blanket for Cuddling– Cuddling is not just good for your baby but also your toddler, preschooler and big kid too. So much is happening during snuggle time, including sensory work, attachment work, brain development and more. And in terms of attachment, we parents need those snuggles too! A giant cuddle blanket makes an excellent gift. Here’s a link to the popular brand of oversized snuggly blankets seen in our picture. However, if your budget doesn’t allow for this particular blanket, cheaper versions can be found in almost any discount retail store. Remember, the blanket is the invitation, but you (the parent) are the key to a brain building and attachment promoting experience.
#2 : Baby Carriers, Slings, Backpacks– We personally like the ERGO carriers because they allow for front, hip, and back carrying and therefore work for multiple ages and stages of kiddos. Those of you who know me know that I swear by backpacks especially for families that want to practice attachment style parenting but have multiple kids with varying needs and only one or two parents with only two hands each! Just look at the various ages and stages represented in the following pictures. What a great way to practice close proximity parenting.
#3: Gymboree, Kinder Music (or other parent inclusive activity classes)- These organized classes offer an opportunity to work on sensory play with the direction of someone else! You don’t have to come up with the ideas yourself, but you are there to offer your child that all important emotional connection! A gift certificate to a class like this is a great suggestion when grandparents or others ask what they can get you for a holiday gift.
#4: Idea Resources for Mom and Dad: Even after we’ve been educated about the importance of a sensory diet and brain building and attachment promoting activities, sometimes it’s hard to come up with everyday ideas ourselves. And yet, it’s so vital that we keep our interactions with our child fresh and purposeful. Two resources we love for this are Carol Stock Kranowitz’s book The Out of Sync Child has Fun and Deborah McNelis’ Brain Insight Activity Packets. McNelis’ company Braininsights is dedicated to making brain development concepts apply to real life. Although her materials are targeted to mainstream parents they are even more perfect for those of us parenting kiddos that had a less than optimal start. This flip card series offers activities for optimizing brain development at different ages and stages. Be sure to buy the packet that fits not only your child’s chronological age but also the one that more closely matches their “real” or developmental age as well. For Cyber Monday Braininsights is offering free shipping!
#5 Children’s Books: As a teacher I recommend books as a great holiday gift for any child. But for those of us parenting children who waited there is even more motivation to hit the book store this holiday season. Children that have had weak or lacking brain building experiences early in life often need more work on auditory processing than even your typical child. Books that offer rhythm , rhyme, and predictability are great for this need. And don’t forget your older child when thinking in this category of books.
Read aloud books are also important for the development of auditory processing. And don’t forget that cuddling up to read a good book is an attachment promoting activity as well. Check out your local library or book store for great read aloud titles for various ages. All of my children (ages 11-22) still enjoy a good read aloud. It is an important part of our family culture.
When looking for books you also want to consider books that work on visual perception as well. Look at a range of possibilities from simple picture books to complex visual workouts like the Eye Spy series. Find visual workouts for your child that are challenging but not over stimulating and then work up to the more complex books.
And finally, books offer us a chance for a warm fuzzy connection and the promotion of unconditional love . Two of my favorite titles for this kind of book experience are Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse.
#6: Experience Gifts– Give a gift that keeps on going by choosing an experience gift. Examples include bird feeders, ant farms, gardening kits, bug catching tools, science kits, scrapbooking kits, butterfly hatching kits, fish tanks, dramatic play items, and more. These kinds of gifts allow us an ongoing experience with our child that will promote relationship and attachment as well as improve vocabulary and other skills.
#7 Bath Toys: Sounds simple I know. But these are excellent toys to invest in for your baby, toddler, or even preschooler and sometimes even older child. Bath time is a natural interaction time and these toys make interaction easy and fun while also working on sensory needs. This picture reminds us that sometimes our older child (with a younger developmental age) can benefit from the permission that a younger sibling gives them to play with developmentally younger toys.
#8 Heavy Work Toys: Not all of our children will need extra sensory work in the proprioceptive or vestibular areas, but many will. And most children do enjoy riding toys and bikes. So here are a few suggestions for heavy work and moving through space toys that any child will enjoy. Think little red wagon. This is a timeless toy great for pulling and pushing and riding and hauling (all great activities for our kids.) And for those who are needing some work on balance and movement, but are too big for a tricycle (and yet not able to navigate a bike) one of these other more stable riding toys might be just the ticket!
#9 Stress Busters and Motivators: Let’s face it! The intense parenting necessary to combat a child’s less than optimal start in life can be exhausting! If you are looking for the perfect gift for an adoptive parent in your life, or for your spouse or partner, consider a pampering and stress reducing gift. It might be as elaborate as a day at a fancy spa or as simple as a coupon for a 30 minute escape to Starbucks but acknowledge the hard work that the adoptive parent in your life is doing and find a way to make it a little easier. Whatever you choose for the tangible part of this gift make sure it comes along with a note from you telling this parent exactly how important they are.
#10 Heart of the Matter Seminars Gift Certificate: At Heart of the Matter we’ve always believed that getting information into the hands of adoptive parents is the key to successful adoptive families. Consider giving the adoptive parent (or grandparent) in your life a gift certificate redeemable towards the purchase of the Because They Waited education system or any of our other recorded courses. As our gift you can input the promotional code CYBERSALE at checkout and receive $5 off a gift certificate or any other purchase through December 6, 2010.
What are your best gift ideas for adoptive families? We’d love to hear your suggestions!