Sunday, 27 April 2014

The use of mirrors with babies (accompanied)

Babies love mirrors.  Watch their reactions to how they see themselves in the mirror.  
If you have a large mirror on a wall, lift older babies up so that they can see themselves.

Playing with mirrors helps children to:

  • Try out different expressions and movements
  • Look at themselves very carefully
  • Explore their own body language
  • Try out different moods and feelings in a playful way
  • enjoy pretending
And that's just from an everyday mirror......which provides a whole lot of learning.

CHILDREN should not be left unattended with the mirror.  This activity is for children and parents to try together while interacting an communicating through play.

Visi bottles

Visi bottles are very similar to sensory bottles and are designed to stimulate a babies eye sight.  They help babies to:

  • Look and think about what they see and hear
  • See what happens when they shake, move and wiggle things
If you want to make one you will need:
  • An empty washed out small drinks bottle (which can either be held or rolled depending on the age)
  • Food colouring  - optional (depending on whether you want your water to be coloured)
  • Glitter, coconut or similar for movement
  • Glue gun (to make the lid stick tight to the bottle) or masking tape to seal around the top of the bottle
REMEMBER: Close the lid tightly.  Do not leave your baby alone with this bottle as small parts can cause a baby to choke. 

These ones are from 'you'll thank me one day'.  You will find more really great ideas here so pop on over to have a look:

What can babies hear?

Babies can hear from the moment they are born.  Even before birth they are aware of sound vibrations from both in side and outside their mother.  When we gently pat a baby on their back to soothe them, this can remind them of the thud of the heartbeat the baby used to hear when they were in the womb.

Babies can be startled by sudden sounds but sometimes like the background noise of a whirring washing machine or vacuum cleaner.

What babies really listen to is our voices.  Even in the early weeks when the baby can't turn their head towards you, they are still listening.  As they are dependent on you they learn to tune into your voice very quickly.

It is really important for your baby to have time with you everyday without the background noise of the television or radio to help them to do this.  As they get older, even as a young child this is important to help their listening skills develop and to help them to be able to tell the difference between the sounds that make up different words.

Image from

Babies and black and white images

Young babies see close up objects clearly when the ideal distance is about 20 - 25cm, which is about the distance from your face to your baby in your arms.  Babies are fascinated by faces and study them with great interest.

Young babies also prefer black and white, high contrast images to colour graphics.  You can now buy lots of black and white baby books, mobiles for the cot and other black and white contrasting play items.  

The following link is a great resource which I use lots within my baby groups when working with parents and babies together developing early language skills through play.  The pictures are so striking that I use them on home made building blocks.

Watch your little ones reactions while you talk to them : )

My building blocks are made from a dice template.  A3 versions make great dice for babies.  This one is from  Make sure you round the corners to make them safe.  Fill with shredded paper.

If you want to make a different variety when they get older try making a set with family members and pets, favourite characters etc.  

Water play at bath time with babies and young children

When babies have a bath they usually enjoy the freedom and the swirling of the water around them.


  • With a very young baby, while supporting their head with your lower arm, with the other hand squeeze drops of water from a flannel or sponge onto their tummy while talking to them.
  • Watch their reaction as they feel the trickling water on their tummy.
  • With older babies who can sit up in the bath, try a variety of containers and objects some of which float and sink.  Objects can include spoons, empty drinks bottles to fill and empty, colander or sieve or a clean plastic plant pot to watch the water trickle through while you fill and lift it.
You don't have to go out and buy lots of bath toys.  Look around your house, you'll be amazed at what you can find that's safe and free!
Water play helps babies to:
  • Get to know about themselves
  • Enjoy the freedom of being in the bath with no nappy on
  • Explore how water behaves as it surrounds and supports them while with you at all times
  • Have fun with you
It's a great time to sing with them too......5 little ducks when swimming one day.

Here's a selection of everyday items I found to have fun with:

  • Ice cream scoop - to scoop and pour
  • Set of measuring cups (large, medium and small)
  • Measuring spoon
  • plastic medicine syringe (never used) tickles toes with the short blasts of water
  • Rubber glove - these are brilliant with small pin pricks placed in the fingers.  Fill with water and then use as a water gun!  Great stress relievers too (tried and tested). PLEASE BE AWARE: Many children now have serious allergies to latex.  Check before hand!
  • Water proof pot to hold it all in.  The best bit is when your child gets a little fed up with the items, you can change them easily.  Add colanders, sieves, sponges, spoons, empty plastic bottles...the list is endless.

Have fun : )

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Treasure baskets...why no plastics?

Many plastic objects are similar in many ways.  They are often all smooth, have no smell and no taste.  In our manufactured world, adults and children use plastic objects everyday and a child gains experience of these objects from handling bottles, cups, toys and rattles.  by offering a whole range of objects which are not plastic, we increase the opportunities for a child to explore and learn.

You know your child best and can experiment with likes and dislikes.  It is sometimes best to start with a small number of items at first and to introduce new objects gradually.  This way your child can find their favourite objects and notice when new items have been added.  Popular items for treasure baskets include natural objects, natural materials, wooden objects, metal objects, textiles and paper / cardboard items:

  • Pumice stone / a lemon / natural loofah / wicker baskets / wooden nail brush
  • paint brush / wooden curtain rings / wooden clothes pegs / wooden egg cup
  • spoons / keys / leather purse / different textures materials / ribbon / lace
  • grease proof paper / boxes / kitchen rolls / hair scrunchies / nylon pan scourer
  • egg whisk / pine cone / powder puff / pastry brush / wooden spoon

The list is endless

Image from

What do children gain from treasure baskets?

Following on from the last post......

Children learn by exploration and experience.  A treasure basket brings many items within a child's reach that they may not have had the opportunity to handle before but can with you by their side.  A child may handle the items with their hands, feet, fingers or mouth.  By having this opportunity they can also start to discover weight, size and textures.  Does it smell?  Can you taste it?  Shake it....does it make a noise?  Drop it and what happens?  Can i put it inside another object?  Can I join two items together?  What happens when I bang one item against another?

This basket contains:
  • Pieces of animal pattern fabric
  • Ribbon
  • Clothes brush
  • Sponge
  • Set of three nesting boxes
  • Silky make up bag with zip
  • Fluffy pig finger puppet
  • Wicker heart
  • Blue bathroom pouffe
  • Draw fragrance sachet

This one was made up in less than ten minutes just by looking around the house for items.  Have a go you will be surprised at what treasures you will find : )

What is a treasure basket?

A treasure basket  is a shallow sturdy basket containing a collection of everyday items, none of which are plastic.  Most of the objects are in everyday use by adults and are made of natural materials.  The items in the basket vary in weight, size, texture, colour, taste and sound.  All the items are chosen to stimulate one or more of the five senses.  Babies and young children explore the treasure basket using their senses to discover what the objects are.

If you don't have a basket you could use an empty shoe box or something similar as long as your baby (when sitting upright) or young child can access it easily while you are with them.  When you use a treasure basket  / box you would normally put other toys away so that your little one can really explore the contents. 

Your baby will put thing to their mouth to explore.  This is their way of exploring and finding out about the world around them.  This is why its important that you choose safe items for them and never leave them unattended with the items but let them explore them with you by their side.

See the next post to find out more........

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The importance of talking with babies

Talking with our babies is something that happens naturally everyday, but do we ever stop to think about what we may be teaching them everyday?

Here are some examples:

Language development - talking to them, teaching them new words, listening to them.  They may only be babies but their brains are like sponges and they are taking everything on board.  That's why singing, reading and playing with them is so important from birth onwards. 

Social development - the interaction that takes place between you and your baby helps to develop realationships with other people. 

Listening skills - listening is important to be able to distingusih between sounds that make up the words that we use every day.  It is really important that babies and children have quiet time with no back ground noise daily in order to develop these skills.  Even ten minutes a day can help to make a difference.

Showing that we value what they have to say and by giving praise for achivements (even small ones), helps to develop their confidence, self esteem and their potential for further learning.