October 21, 2011
As parents, we want to do everything we can to help our children be happy, healthy, smart, and successful to give them the best chance at being happy, healthy, smart, successful adults. Especially with a first baby, we tend to listen to all sorts of sources, family, friends, and even marketing to find out what we should do and buy.
Retail stores will try to sell you tons of stuff and we often times will buy it because we don’t want to look like we don’t know what we’re doing. So, we buy the toys that have flashing lights with buttons that play Mozart, and the ones that teach infants higher math because we think we should. After you spend all the money and get the present back home, all your child wants to do is play with the box. How frustrating is that? The parents end up spending more time with the toy trying to entice the child to come play. Why do babies love playing in boxes?
This is what I call Baby Physics. They’re ‘real world’ items. They can crawl in and out. Toys can disappear only to reappear again. The sides and corners are planes and angles. Just like playing with a wooden spoon and a plastic mixing bowl. They’re what you use everyday and what’s teaching real world physics. That expensive toy with all the lights and buttons and music is just that. It doesn’t flip over and turn into something else. It’s just lights buttons and music.
Another Baby Physics Lesson is ‘The Dropsy Game’. The 'game' where babies and little kids drop things from their highchairs. They're learning about gravity. Yes, it can be totally annoying if you’re trying to get other things done, but just breathe and enjoy the moment. Eventually, you can draw the game to a close and move on to clean up. As they get older you’ll teach them how to behave at the table, but gravity is definitely something to learn about. In our house, ‘gravity storms’ happen when towers of blocks fall over or when someone stumbles. (This of course works with older kids who get the joke and it can lighten the mood.)
Babies don’t understand physics until you teach them. They don’t understand that they can fall down the stairs, which is why it is recommended to have gates at the tops and bottoms of stairwells. You’ve heard that babies are like sponges. They’re learning one or more languages. Their bodies are developing their gross and fine motor skills. They’re learning to love and trust. They’re also learning about the laws of physics. They won’t be able to name them, that’ll come later, but they’ll understand how the world functions through Baby Physics.