Rocking horses – and other rocker toys – have long been a staple of childhood, being a traditional toy that has plenty to offer for fun, education, and exercise for young children.
It isn’t easy to think of a toy more iconic than the rocking horse, having been a feature of nurseries and playrooms for well over a hundred years – and there’s good reason this toy has stood the test of time, given the vast array of benefits these toys offer.
Our kid’s attention is drawn to light-up, electronic toys, and worse still – smartphones and tablets in the technology age. The humble rocking toy remains a stand-out for both its simplicity and its ability to grab attention, pulling kids away from YouTube and their iPads.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the lesser-known developmental benefits of rocking toys. Some will be obvious, while others aren’t – giving you plenty of reasons to think about investing in a rocker for your little one if you haven’t done so already.
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5 child development benefits of rocking toys
So, without further ado – here are our picks of the top five benefits that rocking toys offer when it comes to early childhood development and why you – if you haven’t already – should think about investing in one for your little one’s bedroom or playroom.
1. They improve balance, mobility, and motor skills
The development of motor skills is a significant part of growing up and are essential for young children to discover and interact with the world around them. We all know this is something that we all know; however, what you might not know are the benefits a rocking toy can have when it comes to motor skill development.
You mustn’t underestimate the value of rockers and other dinosaur ride-on toys when it comes to the development of motor skills. When your child uses a rocker, they aren’t just rocking back and forth – they’re also manipulating handlebars, moving and placing their limbs, and moving these limbs together to create motion. There’s a lot more going on when a child rides on a rocking toy than you might first think.
Using a rocker, particularly the movements and motions experienced when using one, can help stimulate the vestibular system inside the inner ear. This system is critical for balance, and when stimulated, this system will improve your little one’s balance.
2. They have a soothing effect, helping to calm and relax children
If you’ve got children who often become over-excited, hyperactive, or restless, rocking toys can be a godsend, offering an easy way to help them work off steam, calming and relaxing them in the process.
Rocking back and forth is calming, offering a great option to help relax hyperactive children, giving them an easy way to settle down. This is no different from when they were babies when you held them and used a rocking mothing to gently soothe and calm them to get them off to sleep.
This is especially true for children with sensory disorders or autism. The soothing action of rocking toys can be incredibly effective at calming them down, helping them organize the input from their day, and relax.
3. They help encourage creative, independent play
While a good rocking toy can be a focal point of any kid’s bedroom or nursery, being a large, stand-out piece of room décor – they’re also a toy that can transport them to the world of their imagination more so than most other toys.
Rocking toys are all about creative play! They enable your little one to live out their imagination, whether they’re cowboys riding horses or cavemen riding a rocking dinosaur – these toys offer plenty of possibilities.
All this pretend play can hugely benefit not just creativity but also various essential development skills. The range of child development benefits is broad from language development and critical thinking to emotional and social skills.
4. They help your child to develop a sense of rhythm
When children use a rocking toy, like a rocking horse or dinosaur rocker, their fine motor skills collaborate with their brains, creating a sense of rhythm as they work together to create motion.
Learning to combine and coordinate muscle movement throughout the body simultaneously to perform actions is a crucial skill and one that developing a sense of rhythm can help with. Over time, your little one will learn how their movement impacts the motion of the rocker, with them being able to control how fast or how slow it moves, using the rhythm of their bodies.
This is an essential skill to develop, as understanding and coordinating the various parts of their body is an incredibly useful skill, being applicable to balance, sports, dance, and indeed, almost all areas of life.
5. They improve social skills, through cooperative, sharing, and turn-based play
Social skills are fundamental, being one of the single most significant indicators of success, both at school and later in life. Rocking toys can help develop these, actively helping to promote play that is cooperative and turn-based, teaching children about sharing and waiting their turn.
These skills – listening, co-operating, and most of all, sharing – don’t come naturally; they take time and encouragement to develop in young children. This is only done by actively putting your little one into situations with their peers that require these skills again and again until they pick them up and get with the program.
It’s essential to develop this way of thinking as early as possible, as failure to do so can result in problems as they enter daycare or pre-school. Sharing is essential for social interaction and play; without this ability, it will be much more difficult for your child to interact with and befriend other children.
Well, there you have it, our picks of five of the main developmental benefits that rocking toys can offer young children.
I think you’ll agree that we’ve done a pretty good job at establishing a wide range of benefits that these toys bring to the table – many of which are arguably lesser-known than some of the more obvious ones, like balance.
If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and pick one up. There’s a reason these toys have stood the test of time – kids love them! They’re also not bad as room decoration, as a stand-out addition that finishes off the theme of any kid’s bedroom or playroom.