With so many toys available, it can be difficult to choose one that will engage your child and help them develop at the same time.
It can be tempting to use the TV or iPad as a babysitter, particularly if you are busy, but both you and your child lose out by doing this. You don't get to bond with your little one, and they won't develop the necessary skills to help them succeed in later life.
Puzzles help build skills
Although they are often overlooked in favour of electronic or noisier toys, puzzles make great presents and can keep your little one engaged for hours.
You may have to encourage your child to begin with by getting them to put the pieces together, but once they get the hang of it, there will be no stopping them.
Puzzles are an invaluable tool for helping to teach youngsters to solve problems in a logical manner. They can try different pieces until the right one fits, but they will soon recognise that, for instance, the outermost parts of a puzzle must have straight edges. They will also learn to understand that the pieces make up a picture and so they will use this to help them understand how the parts make a whole.
There are also no half-way measures with puzzles, as much as they try, your child won't be able to fit a piece of a puzzle into a space it is not meant for.
Developing fine and gross motor skills
Basic puzzles can help babies and very young children develop their gross motor skills and as they grow, more complex versions can help strengthen their fine motor skills, essential for writing and dressing.
Putting the pieces of a puzzle together requires you to use your hands, eyes and brain to manipulate the parts and work out where they need to go. This is a vital skill for many sports and for developing the brain in general.
Although there are games aimed specifically at improving memory, jigsaws are a great way of developing this vital skill. When a piece of a puzzle doesn't fit, your child will set it aside and then work out how and where to use it later.
Breaking problems down
A key skill when you need to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem is being able to break a task down into achievable goals. Putting together a jigsaw puzzle allows you to do this by sorting pieces by shape, colour, or where they sit in a picture.
Although they may not realise it at first, this is a vital skill which will help them in later life when they will undoubtedly be faced with multiple challenges which require patience and a logical thought process.
The bigger picture
Although it may be hard to believe that the humble puzzle, produced by brands such as Djeco, can help children's brains develop, it does so by teaching them how to manipulate objects in the world around them. This has been proved by psychologists to significantly boost brain development.