Baby University? Bah!
Last week I received an online ad that had me scowling indignantly at the computer. I usually don't even look
but it caught my eye because it said Baby University. Oh ick!!! So I looked at the page and it's a certain
manufacturer's toys that they think you need to buy your infant to make him or her smarter, more creative, and all
around more completely set for a brilliant life.
They have toys in each of these categories, all with bright colors and plastic parts you need to buy to give your
child the "best." (Insert rolled eyes) Oh yes, and you'll need batteries, since these all beep, flash & make lots
and lots of noise. No imagination required.
What follows is my take on much better ways to give your kids these opportunities....
Music Appreciation ~ Pots and pans, lullabies, clapping to music, nursery rhymes, being exposed to
lots of kind of music, making jingle bell anklets and dancing in them, making shakers out of plastic bottles
sealed tight with popcorn kernels or dried beans inside, dancing with mama to the oldies station, real
instruments like flutes, tambourines and daddy's old guitar, drums made of oatmeal boxes, making up songs,
attending cultural events and concerts (especially featuring music and dance from other countries), singing silly
songs in the car....
Sensory Stimulation ~ Taking the time with babies to touch, smell and talk about everything you
encounter, making smelling games with cotton balls soaked in scents like vanilla, stopping to touch brick walls
and dandelion fluff on a walk, involving baby in daily activities with you by carrying her in a sling or carrier, giving
him a pile of oatmeal to play with in the high chair, using scraps of ruined clothes to make up a book of textures
like courderoy and satin, encouraging kids to taste a wide variety of foods, playing with water, snow,
homemade dough, sand.....
Learning Fundamentals ~ Reading to your kids, talking to them, taking the time to answer the millions
of why's you hear all day, singing the abc's, using colors and shapes in conversation ("Can you bring me the
yellow box with the diamond on it honey? Ooh, look at the black and white kitty!"), pointing out letters & shapes
encountered on signs and on walks, counting everything for fun....
Physical achievement ~ Walking with them, rolling balls, getting down on the floor and playing with baby,
stacking blocks or boxes and knocking them over, tossing rolled up socks into a laundry basket....
Language development ~ Reading books, talking to your kids, describing what's going on to baby,
using lots of new and varied words in conversation and taking the time to explain what they mean if asked,
reading poetry, reciting nursery rhymes, life....
Architectural design ~ (It turns out this is their term for most of those toys with things to spin or
push and I'm not sure I see the design element in those at all, so I'm offering up more real ones)
Building with plastic or wooden blocks (get them by the ton at thrift shops), dropping poker chips into a slit cut in
a yogurt container, sculpting homemade clay and letting it dry, making snow creations, playing in the sand,
making mud pies and stone structures, using scraps of wood to sand and make your own building set, stacking
measuring cups, matching tupperware containers with the right size and shape of lids, building forts and tunnels
with empty boxes.....
Oceanography ~ (All right, I had to look here too and it turns out this is where they sell fake fish
bowls-- the answer to this one is obvious!) Real aquariums or fish bowls, a trip to an aquarium, reading
brightly colored books about underwater life, visiting the ocean and exploring tidepools, making sponge fish for
Creative Expression ~ Life! Drawing pictures, using homemade play dough, making shapes with
straws in a restaurant, playing dress up, making up songs and stories, making toys out of rocks & sticks &
found objects, and most importantly avoiding those annoying toys that blink and flash and gobble! :)
Here's to all those plastic things you never buy and the time you spent playing in the dirt with them
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All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
Don't take it - that would be rude.