As a scientist, I know one thing for sure. You need tenacity. You need to be able to solve complex problems. And how do us scientists do that? We look at a problem and we grapple with it. We investigate it, turn it upside down and deconstruct it into small parts. We find the tiny tangled up part, unravel it and put all the pieces back together again. If everything fits, the problem is solved. Sounds a lot like playing doesn’t it?
For babies and small children play is a lot more than the word suggests. When babies play, they explore and they learn.
Allowing babies to explore their world is fundamentally important to their brain development. It is ever so tempting to intervene when babies play and pass them the toy they are reaching for or taking the lid of the box when we see the baby struggle. Often our best intentions are met with an angry response.
This isn’t really surprising. Imagine you are just about to tackle the most perfect ski slope and some invisible hand picks you up and puts you at the bottom of the mountain. You’d be a bit annoyed too.
I see many websites that suggest giving your baby jelly to feel. Or to give them rainbow spaghetti to play with.
Seriously, I don’t think any of this is necessary. To your baby everything is new. Things that you have long stopped thinking about can provide hours of fun and engagement for your baby. Putting together a sensory basket with safe items from your home is likely to provide a lot more entertainment for your baby than most shop bought toys. And playing with natural elements provides the richest experience of all. Lying or sitting next to your baby and simply observing what he does, can give you the necessary clues to tell you when there is no need to interfere.
Many child development experts believe you can never start the process of self-directed play too early.
Self-directed play allows babies to choose what they want to investigate. They can explore at their own pace. A baby which is allowed this freedom will often repeat a new activity over and over again until he decides that it is no longer fun and moves to the next thing.
Once your child starts school there will be few opportunities for him to be in control and make decisions over what he wants to learn. Giving your baby the freedom now means he will be on the path for imaginative creative thinking. And that is the prerequisite for being a scientist.
Magda Gerber used to say “Do less; observe more; enjoy most." The cosyplay mat allows you to do exactly that in great comfort.
When your baby is young and exploring his surrounding, don’t just leave him to get on with your own business. It is incredibly reassuring for your baby to know you are there. The time to watch your baby play happily will be gone before you know it. Enjoy it whilst it lasts.