Squirm is one curious baby. It’s been a personality trait we’ve noticed from very early – he often got distracted from feeds when he was trying to find out what else was going on around the room, and he spent large amounts of times staring at all the new faces he met.
This curiosity has grown and changed as he’s grown older, (though he still finds himself being distracted from feeds). Of course, curiosity is a quality which we want to nurture in our little boy, but how do you encourage curiosity in a baby?
I feel that it’s important not to be too focused on ‘teaching’ things like curiosity. Instead we focus on providing materials and opportunities for Squirm to enjoy and which allow him to be his normal curious self.
Seven Activities for a Curious Baby
1. Explore with different fabrics
We have a small box filled with different materials and Squirm loves it. At first he just tipped it over, but now he picks out one piece after another, spending significant time on some while moving onto another.
Additionally, my mother made a gorgeous fabric book for Squirm last Christmas. Each page has different fabrics on it, which he touches and inevitably puts in his mouth.
2. Treasure baskets
I’ve talked about treasure baskets before, but these are a brilliant way to satisfy the curious mind. Squirm had so much fun with a basket full of different sized balls – learning how they moved, how to pick them up and how to move them was a fantastic experience for him.
I also try to find the most interesting objects in our house for Squirm to explore – he’s a big fan of a whisk. Another favourite is a safe little torch which he’s worked out how to turn on – playing with light is another fun activity.
3. Exploration Tray
I got this idea from Laughing Kids Learn. It’s so very easy – simply grab a muffin or cupcake tray from your cupboard and put different items in the different cups. We’ve played with different coloured blocks, different shaped blacks and different objects all together, but all the different combinations keep Squirm occupied and studying the objects for ages.
4. Go out to the shops
It was a wet and miserable day yesterday, but we had our weekly shopping trip to get us out of the house. During the trip, Squirm was enthralled by the buttons on the ATM and the lights outside the shops. He engaged with the lovely staff at the cafe where we had lunch (he loves watching them polish cutlery) and some of the other patrons. We made a stop by the pet shop where all the kittens and puppies were asleep, but the birds and fish put on a fantastic show for him to watch. After a quick nap, he was fascinated by the guy at the register who even gave him the receipt. All these new experiences from a normal shopping trip.
5. Explore Your Food
We do Baby-Led Weaning, so the food is placed on a tray in front of Squirm. When he spots something unfamiliar he spends time looking at it, touching it, working out how to pick it up – all before it goes near his mouth. He’d exploring the world of food and how it works.
Even if you’re not doing Baby-Led Weaning, you can still spend time playing with food when your baby start solids. Before you start feeding, put a little puree or cereal on a plate or tray and let them explore it a bit. When they move to finger food they can continue this exploration similar to Baby-Led Weaning.
6. Establish a Safe Place to Roam
Once your curious baby gets mobile, they’ll want to go everywhere. Allow them to roam, but try to make it as safe as possible. Shops offer lots of different options for baby-proofing, or you can use the more interesting approach to child proofing (we’ve rigged up old chair pads to create a barrier in front of our DVD and CD racks . . .) I found it difficult at first to let Squirm head off on his own, but now – as long as he’s in sight – I let him explore his surroundings at length.
7. Everyday Objects Make the Best Play Items
While Squirm has a decent collection of toys, I’m sometimes amazed at what interests him the most. This week it’s the plastic container that usually holds his blocks. When the container was turned upside down, Squirm realised he could push it across the carpet to the lino. Once it was on the lino, he realised that he could stand up and push it around – cheapest walker ever!
Keeping safe, every day objects within reach of babies and letting them explore can come up with the most amazing experiences. Who knows what the next amazing play item will be . . .
How do you encourage curiosity in your children? How do you encourage your own curiosity?