Creativity is our wonderful ability to combine things in a new way—to learn a fact, rule or a pattern—then to change things up and create something distinct! For example, we reshuffle musical notes to create a new song, body movements to create a new dance, or building blocks to create a new structure.

Fostering Creativity in Babies and Toddlers

Your baby’s creativity is “born” during the second half the first year, as he masters certain skills and starts experimenting with them. When he’s alone in his room, you might hear your little Mozart at work practicing a riot of sounds, from grunts and chortles to raspberries and squeals. These explorative sessions alone can set the tone for their creativity into toddlerhood and throughout their lives.

Creative Babies Love to Explore

His creative streak advances as he starts handling objects–holding, squeezing and teething are all opportunities to explore. He’ll shake a rattle to hear the noise, bang it to hear that noise and even imitate Isaac Newton, by dropping toys and teethers on the floor, to study the properties of gravity. Your little genius will perform all kinds of fascinating experiments and produce new creative ideas as the year goes on.

Researcher Andy Meltzoff, from the University of Washington, found that 10 month-olds watch us, then imitate what they see. Once that gets boring, babies start to tweak these imitations, creating new behaviors and sounds, and developing creative new skills. You might hear your little one testing out different cries to learn how loud and shrill a shriek will get us in the room fastest. Improvisation like this is the basis for jazz…in fact it’s the basis of all art and science!

How Parents Can Foster  Creativity (With a Hands-Off Role)

Babies delight in discovering novel uses for objects, and later on novel solutions to puzzles…and novel meanings of words. Trust that creativity will develop automatically in your child. But parents can encourage creativity to flourish.

Just as dough rises by adding yeast, creativity naturally rises in a rich and stimulating environment. In the first year, creativity is all about play and interaction. So, it shouldn’t be a shock that ingenuity thrives not by turning on the TV (“Baby Einstein”-like videos etc) but rather by offering your munchkin new ways to play and new “things” to touch and handle. 

Fostering creative thinking in your child doesn’t mean having a gazillion toys; it means cultivating variety for them. I am definitely a fan of keeping it simple. Introduce your baby to older kids to play with; bring her to new parks; put out containers to bang or turn cardboard boxes into tunnels; and give your crawling infant time outside to roll, climb, touch the grass, and even get a little dirty. All this builds her confidence to experiment, helping learning and creativity grow through toddlerhood and beyond!

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.