Babies are sponges for learning new things. My son soaks up everything new - new people, new sounds, new colors or shapes, things that sparkle and things that feel different to him. His latest thing of interest is moving off his playmat onto the floor and slapping his hands down hard. I believe he loves the new sound and the different feeling of the floor when compared to his mat. His new toys are of great interest to him. However, a lot of them are a little beyond his capability just yet so I spend a large part of my day pushing buttons, turning cranks, driving trains and zipping around the living room trying to catch balls before they get trapped under the couch. Some of those toys are too heavy and he wants to grab them and pull them on top of him, and therefore he requries constant supervision while playing with them. I love to help him learn new skills, one that he has just picked up is how to roll a ball back and forth with another person. He also likes catching balls from his many ball - popper gadgets that he got. I read his new books to him and encourage him to feel the sensory pages and keep him from putting the pages in his mouth. We are busy exploring his new things together and I think this is essential to his development.
That being said, I believe it is just as important to allow him to play on his own. He needs to learn how to figure things out and move around unrestricted. I have noticed that when I play with him, he moves around less than he does on his own. He goes from one end of the room to the other very quickly when he is alone, it's like he knows he has more room. I love watching him from the next room while he is unaware of my presence. The expressions on his face as he is having these raw learning moments are exciting and hilarious. My son is very adept at playing on his own and there are times when I know it would be his preference.
This can be a touchy subject in what's "best" for kids nowadays. Some say that children require structured play to acquire the skills necessary for "normal" development. I know this is true for somethings, but I think it is just as important for him to learn independently. That is one of my main goals as a parent for my son to be as independent as he can be. I will do whatever I can to help him, but I do not want to hover over him all the time for everything. I have some opinions on being a helicopter parent that will undoubtedly come out in my future posts. The only thing I will say for now that I am very determined not to be one.
- Help out. If your baby's toys are too much just yet, figure out a way that he or she can enjoy them with your assistance.
- Read to baby. Let them experience their new books and stories fully.
- Step back. Allow your child to experience independent, unrestricted play. They need this too very much!