Baby Massage ends and I set up for a session on Treasure Baskets for the 5-7month old babies and their parents.
Treasure Baskets were the brainchild of Elinor Goldschmied, a child psychologist who researched what we have all known for years.The excitement and learning potential for toys has melted away with the advent of modern materials, rigid safety standards that require a toy to be safe for a baby to be left alone with, and a general fear about letting anything remotely unusual near a baby's mouth.
In the process we have lost sight of one very important detail; a 6 month old baby has gargantuan concentration skills all cleverly bound by the limitations of their development.Once they can sit, reach out, pick up and put things in their mouths and swap from one hand to the other, that is what they love to do to the exclusion of much else.They are not yet ready to explore their surroundings, what's in front of them is interesting enough.
Now here's an experiment for you, the next time you see a baby playing with a plastic toy, pull rank and take it off them.If they are only 6 months old they won't mind, now suck it and see...revolting eh? What does the plastic taste of ? What does it smell like ? Is it hot or cold or neither ? Is it heavy or light ? What does it tell your senses ? Does it make noises without needing a battery ? The chances are it cost a lot of money and a baby will tire of it quickly.Now act your age and give it back.
A Treasure Basket in contrast is a stable, low rimmed cornucopia of inexpensive delights and easily accumulated at virtually no cost from around the home. Brushes, silk scarves, large pebbles, fir cones, shells, sponges, lemons, an egg whisk, some bells, a ball, boxes that rattle, metal dishes, wooden spoons, heavy things, light things, cold things, smelly things, the list is endless and as long as I can't swallow it and it's not sharp or deadly poisonous, in it goes.
I give the parents the chance to take out anything that really would set their teeth on edge and we then seat 4 babies around each basket and sit back and watch them make the choices.
Everything happens in unreal,slow and ponderous time.Their grasp is not mature enough for speed nor are they strong enough to do damage. Better still, nor at this age have they acquired the warlike fighting skills of the toddler so they will happily allow another baby to reach out and take something off them.There is always a little hunter-gatherer in the mix who will accumulate and we just gently slide some things back in the basket but the chances are we will all still be sitting watching the completely engrossed babies 45 minutes later. Soon the world will be a much bigger place and they will be off , but for those few months between sitting and crawling there is much to discover and a little window of time too precious to waste.
Of course a baby must never be left alone with a Treasure Basket and actually the whole point is that you sit and watch them exploring and developing all their five senses, I know we all grew up beating nine bells out of saucepans with wooden spoons but that's a lost art these days.
Thinking about it, what a wonderful and unusual gift a Treasure Basket would make for a baby near you.Better still if you know someone with twins, triplets or quads I should think they would bless the day you walked in the door with it.