While our play objects for infants at first glance, seem quite simple- an astute observer soon discovers the magic and discovery passive toys make for active babies.
“Aren’t the babies bored?” one prospective parent innocently asked during an Open House. Glancing at the Infant Solarium, I could see how RIE play objects might look inanimate when not in a child’s hands. I assured him that when adults trust a child to be an initiator, explorer and constructor of her own knowledge- the baby is not bored. A bored child, rather, has inadvertently become dependent on toys designed to entertain or on adults to shake, rattle and roll for her. Both can rob a child of her own discovery.
An active baby engaged in simple infant toys makes things happen. The link below affords a few minute observation of a not yet mobile child at play with simple objects.
How important is a child’s experimentation on these open-ended play objects?
A baby’s intimate understanding of simple toys and his continually developing ability to manipulate these objects in increasingly complex ways means, “…his actions look much less magical and are much more effective. This allows (the child) to really plan and scheme and use physical objects as tools. By the time babies are eighteen months old, they understand quite complicated things about how objects affect each other.” (Gopnik, Meltzoff, Kuly; The Scientist in the Crib, p77).
School founder and author of Being with Babies, Beverly Kovach, concurs, “You may be wooed by marketing strategies to buy too many complex playthings for babies. However, babies’ brains develop by relating to objects in ways that develop their interest, curiosity, problem-solving skills, and sensory experiences.” (p 31)
It appears that when it comes to infant toys and infant learning, the experts agree- Less is More.
Here are some ideas for simple, open-ended play objects which are also highly affordable yet rich in opportunities for infants to explore, experiment and discover their unique characteristics:
An increase in quantity keeps things interesting
“The toy in the child’s hand is alive.” -Magda Gerber