Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Infant Play

I've been doing a lot of research lately about the art of infant play. 

As I've said before, I want Cole to be able to entertain himself, without the assistance of noisy electronic plastic toys or video games or TV.  I want him to create, learn, and play.  So we are starting now on allowing Cole to play by himself.

Now, Mandy, you say.  How on earth can a 7 month old entertain him/herself?

It's simple.  To an adult, being a baby is very boring.  We automatically assume that babies need stimulation and entertainment, because, frankly, WE need entertainment and stimulation.  We are wired to be busy, multi-tasking, with the TV on and computers on and DOING DOING DOING at all times.

But babies are not.

Babies are fascinated by the movement of their hands.  By opening and closing their fists.  By dust particles floating through the sunlight.  By the scent of a flower.  By the feel of a breeze on their face.

Or a water bottle:

Babies explore and discover every waking second of their day.  Our job as parents is to simply ALLOW this to happen.  By not interrupting a baby's quiet interest and attention in something around him/her, we are playing.  By not forcing our own agenda upon a baby, we are encouraging self reliance.

For the past month, I've been working with Cole on entertaining himself.  And when I say "working", I mean "not doing anything".  I simply stand back and observe.  I place him down on the floor and just let him DO what he wants, what interests him.  Sometimes, I don't even give him toys - who needs toys when the world is so fascinating?  We have no schedule or agenda during play time.  Sometimes, I catch myself trying to direct his play, to give him a toy or book I think he would want - but then I stop myself, and wait and watch for his cues.  Diaper changes and meal times are prime times for this infant-directed play time, when I let go of my own expectations and wants and simply allow Cole to take charge.

And it has been fascinating. 

I LOVE watching Cole play by himself.  He is curious about everything.  He makes toys out of the most interesting objects.  He is happy and learning and having fun.  And he can entertain himself for almost an hour at a time.

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