I am a nurse by profession. Not a teacher, not a daycare personnel, and not a nanny. Yes, I have had my fair share of baby sitting but that mostly presented itself as you drop your kids off I’ll make sure their fed and alive when you return. In short, I am in no way trained to enhance a child’s developmental stages.
When Tate was first born I could do the essentials. Wash, bathe, feed, cuddle (oh boy could I cuddle!) and the list goes on. Being a pediatric nurse those things came very easy to me. Between my precious stages of baby sitting and my current career, I was however trained in the art of caring for a child. As he got older, I realized how quickly I was getting out of my league. I mean yes, trust me to keep a kid alive but to make sure they’re developing intellectually ?! That surely couldn’t have been a job for me. Until, it was.
In discussion (and lots of persuasion) between Tate’s dad and I, it was decided that Tate would remain home from daycare until he was a little older and we both felt comfortable sending him into the care of a facility. That meant it was then on me to ensure that in his days home he was still getting the developmental challenges he would in a daycare setting. I knew I couldn’t do this alone and began to turn to articles and research as well as to products that I knew could make it a little easier on me in the learning department.
When TinyLove reached out to me about testing out their new Super Mat I knew it was one I had to jump on. The super sleek and compact design of the mat makes it so I can easily transport it to provide my busy baby boy with a constant place to sit and learn. Once we had the place to learn, it was easy to focus on other areas.
Here are my top 5 tips for creating an intentional play space for baby:
1. Understand what you’re trying to facilitate in each environment. Being as though Tate does not have one designated area of play in the house, that means every area of play that he goes into will have to be designed a specific way. For example, he knows when it’s time to read he sits in his rocking chair and focuses on reading at that moment. And if it’s time to free play, there is an entire basement filled with toys that he can walk around and explore. By putting these structured areas into place I am teaching him consistency and order. Like the saying goes, “there is a time and place for everything”.
2. Having the right equipment. As I spoke of before, Tiny Love mat is my go to for creating a space of developmental play. On this mat Tate is able to explore both his fine and gross motor skills. Playing with the wind chime or baby book while sitting up allows him to use his hands to learn how different toys work all while sitting in one designated area. This mat also focuses on language development, cognition, sense, emotional intelligence, imagination and creativity. And for my mamas with younger babies, this mat starts facilitating development in babies from day one and as they age. What’s better than a play toy that grows with your baby!
3. Be present. Oh trust me there is plenty of times that I let Tate play wild in that basement while I have the TV running watching my 4th episode of Law and Order SVU rerun. But I know that if I want to ensure he’s learning and benefiting from his play at all times, it is necessary to be present. Helping him with certain language toys or simply tossing a ball back and forth allows me to assist with any changes or alterations that need to be made so he can learn correctly. And hey it’s not all bad, free play allows him to use his imagination. While I also use mine to guess which criminal is guilty!
4. Do your research! As I said, I am not a school teacher and do not have all the answers on building my baby’s brain and motor skills. But I know I can research the heck out of things until I find answers! Being committed to my baby’s development makes it easy to stay on top of finding the right material to allow me to help him be the best he can be.
5. Have fun! This is almost always final on my lists. Learning doesn’t always have to be a super rigid process. Sometimes toys are meant to be fun and playful. You’d be surprised how much you teach your baby when you just play and have fun. Social skills especially!
Being a mom is so much more than growing and pushing out a baby. It is wiping them off when they fall, kissing boo-boos and ensuring you set them up the best way possible; both emotionally and physically. As a mom you won’t do everything right all the time. But hey we sure can try.
Take care of you too mama,