A texture book for infants and toddlers makes a great baby shower, newborn or first birthday gift. With only a handful of thick fabric pages, a texture book should be durable, washable and full of sensations. The fabric pages can have pockets, windows with family photo inserts, glued-on features such as bushy eyebrows or googly eyes, or simple, sewn images, such as a pink felt pig. The pages can be securely attached by tying them with tightly knotted ribbons or by sewing them together.
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Themed book ideas include simple shapes made of different textures, a literary "petting zoo," car parts --- such as a shiny hubcap made of aluminium foil and a rubber tire --- or particular holidays that showcase characters. Rudolph's nose can be made of a bright-red pom; nylon guitar strings can make a Halloween cat's whiskers; and soft, fake fur and a cotton ball-like tail can adorn the Easter bunny. You also can encourage learning basic skills by sewing a felt letter that represents the child's name onto the book cover, or sewing on a button and button hole that the child can practice buttoning.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, until they are about 4 months old, babies prefer sharp, contrasting colours because their vision is so limited, so a black-and-white motif is a good choice for part of the book. But don't be shy about colour because after that age, babies respond to many different colours, especially bright ones. Pepper the book with animal images, such as a yellow duck or a hot-pink flamingo, or an image of a toy, such as a striped ball. Keep the images simple; babies and toddlers are just learning to recognise and point to familiar images or say their corresponding names.
Use differently textured fabrics. Corduroy, velvet, fleece, denim, silk, satin, vinyl and felt are good choices. You can alternate some of them on one page, so when the child runs a finger along it, he or she will feel multiple textures. Using special craft glue, you can adhere feathers, a small chunk of shag carpeting and other pieces of distinctive material. Just make sure you don't use anything that can fall off and become a choking hazard.
A tiny squeaker purchased at a craft store that can be sealed inside a flap, a toy that makes an animal sound when squeezed and a music chip specifically for toys all make nice additions to texture books. Another option: take a piece of loud, crinkly material -- tissue paper, a sheet protector or a flat mylar balloon work well -- and secure it between pages so it makes a rustling sound when handled. All additions to the book must be secured well so there's no risk of them being torn or chewed out.
Infants and toddlers enjoy playing with tags on clothes, blankets and toys, and you can make your own by sewing pieces of fabric around the edges of the book. Just cut material pieces to twice the length of a typical clothing tag and fold it in half before sewing it to a page. The tags can be different textures, too; thick ribbons work well. You also can reuse tags from old shirts or stuffed animals.
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