|The best moments in your baby’s life are often not caught on camera.
When you recognize it, you know – leaving to get the camera will miss the event. Or disrupt it from happening at all.
The frustration of not being able to get to your camera quickly evaporates and after a deep breath, you are free to be the sole witness, etching the moment in your long-term memory bank. As a bonus, that fully aware sensitive observation also effortlessly provides you with the necessary information to meet your child’s needs.
Trapped as an observer without a camera, the adult notices even at play, a baby will need a preferred adult’s guidance to check in with to see that where they are is a good place to be; to share in an accomplishment; to hold onto an assortment of gathered objects; to know when they have reached their physical limits cognitively, emotionally, socially, and physically.
And to provide the necessary support -not to rescue her- but to build the confidence in her own capabilities to keep moving forward.
While the best moments in your baby’s life are often caught off tape- sometimes you do get lucky.
Here during a demonstration of what might be a five minute sensitive observation by a caregiver, we almost overlook the baby in the back at play with his bowls as little girl in the foreground connects with her primary teacher. But then, as she moves off screen, something special happens- a child’s new discovery of the properties of nature.
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