These days babies receive toys from the day they are born. Additionally there exist 24/ 7 TV channels and apps exclusively for babies! But do babies need these to pass their time or develop their brain?
To understand what babies are naturally drawn to, I noted what my 9 month daughter plays with the most. She has some popular toys and books. We have not introduced her to screen time except video chat with family. We do take her outdoors and grocery shopping. She does not go to any day care.
[ For the photos in this post, the captions in black font show activities self-initiated by the baby and blue font shows parents’ initiative. ]
Within a week of her birth she had some soft toys, rattles, and cloth books. Around 2 months she started noticing rattle. Around 3 months the amount of time she spent holding the lid of her body lotion jar and looking at it was second to the amount of time she spent looking at her hands when awake. At 5 months she started to roll over and discovered a whole new horizon to be explored!
@5 months: “Now I can rollover and grab it!”
Around 7 months we introduced other toys like rubber duckie, board books, play gym and its dangling toy, etc. But she preferred to play with her sippy cup, look at the water shaking inside it, and feel the spout. She didn’t drink water from the sippy cup though 😦
@7 months: “Something new”
She pulled an empty jar of water from kitchen counter and started banging her hands on it and flashed a big smile.
@7 months: “This (spring water jar) makes great sounds”
Around 8 months her inquisitiveness to hold different things was growing. Whenever I would sort vegetables, she would be the ‘happy to help’! Though I find it boring to sort vegetables, she would be excited and energetic.
@8 months sorting vegetables: “I can help mom for sure 😉 “
@8 months: “Why don’t the bows come out?”
When she and I would be reading, I would invariably end up reading her book because she would snatch the National Geographic I had in hand.
@8 months: “Whose book is it any way?”
She became mobile and rather than toys, she would grab slippers, matchbox, hair on the floor, dried leaves, and anything else that came to her attention.
@8 months: “This seems a bit weird!”
One of the best activities for us was opening boxes from Amazon. First thing to grab – plastic bubble packing. In one of the boxes we received her books and some everyday items. She preferred to pick and play with a pack of brush heads while giving only a cursory stare to her new books. Whereas I looooooved the books by Matthew Van Fleet meant for her.
@9 months: “If only I had teeth to use all of these brush heads”
…And then one day I found her playing with her best buddies – diapers 😉
@9 months: “This thing seems familiar, but does not have THAT smell.”
Toy companies promote toys to develop motor skills. Thanks to her grandmother we found one of the best activities for her – She would pick puffed paddy rice (salichya lahya in Marathi) and obviously put it in her mouth — motor skills and nutrition!
@9 months rice puff: “hmm..why does she give me only a few (puffed paddy rice)?”
@9 months dishwasher spoon basket: “And unloading the dishwasher is boring?”
@9 Months : “This is how we PLAYMATe!”
Does this mean she never plays with her toys? Definitely not. She does play with her toys but toys are not the only things she plays with! She spends a good amount of time playing with her wooden blocks (putting them in mouth, making sounds with two blocks, and probably feeling different shapes), nesting cups, removing different objects from her basket (unfortunately she doesn’t keep them back so I have to do the clean up;)).
She is happy when she is outdoors. Sitting in the mud, watching birds, leaves fluttering in the wind, hearing different sounds, seeing vehicles on the road, and observing her surroundings. She loves parks – slides, swings, zip lines. She feels happy when she sees other kids/people play and indicates her desire to join them.
So far she has been happy playing in water in her tub as well as in the swimming pool.
She seems to like interacting with people as she greets them with a smile and tries her baby talk to strike a conversation.
So how do babies spend their time? It is simple. The baby (and if I may generalize it to all babies) likes to spend her time in exploring different things around her as long as she is surrounded by people she trusts and probably loves (in the case of this baby it is the person behind the camera;)) One gets the feeling that babies want to explore the whole world. Are we restricting them with overwhelming toys and screen time?