Help Your Baby’s Creativity Grow in the First Year
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.
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.
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 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. 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 Play a (Hands-Off) Role With Creativity
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.
This doesn’t mean having a gazillion toys; it means cultivating variety. 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, learn and create!