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Introduce your baby or toddler to farm animals at an open farm or petting zoo. It's great to see animals like cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens and pigs up close. The animals will usually be in pens and enclosures to make sure your child doesn't get too close. Listen to the sounds the animals make and get to know what they like to eat and how they move. Knowing what the animals are like and how big they are will make story books with pictures of animals come alive for your child.
Go in spring and early summer and you will see baby animals like calves, lambs and foals.
Most open farms have a section where you can let your child safely handle small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs. If your child is scared at first, hold an animal yourself and let them stroke the fur or feed the animal a bit of straw.
Here's a list of Irish pet farms from Family Fun.
Play is one of the main ways that babies and toddlers learn about the world – it’s also one of the most effective ways they learn. When a child plays they refine learning skills that continue to develop during childhood and beyond.
As a parent, you are your child’s best playmate so try to spend time every day playing together. As your baby gets older, don’t try to teach them anything during play. They will learn best if they choose what to play and you follow their lead.
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