Growing a brain
I learned something interesting today. Babies sleep so much in the beginning because their brains are busy pruning all the synaptic connections that they’ve developed when awake, but don’t need.
When I told James this, he looked at me and commented, “So you’re saying that the brain eats itself?” I suppose if you want to think of it that way, then yes. The brain eats itself. Sometimes, I feel like my brain is eating itself, and I’m not even a baby. But I digress.
About two months ago, something changed. Baby’s schedule of eaaaat, sleeeeeep, pooooop, play evolved into eat, sleep, poop, plaaaaaaayyyy. She started growing bored faster than George Bush in a library. No sooner had we played Airplane than she wanted to play Superbaby (which is quite similar to Airplane, but requires singing the theme to Superman). Thus began my quest for more things to do with Baby.
Then I found this video on the Niggly Noo website. In it, Tarryn Poulton, an occupational therapist with an 8-month-old daughter, makes the observation that the best thing for your baby isn’t sitting in toys all day, even if the packaging says that it will stimulate all sorts of motor skills. Here’s the thing: the copywriters who make up the stuff on the package are trying to sell you something. I know. I used to be a copywriter in the pharmaceutical industry and sometimes we’d squeeze product benefits out of a study because people won’t buy it if it doesn’t do anything different from the competition. It’s called sales and marketing. And it’s alive and well in the world of babies.
After watching the video, I bought another thing for baby: a large Tiny Love playmat. She now spends a good part of her day on the mat with different toys scattered about that she has to commando crawl to grasp.
That being said, I’ve never seen such joy as when Baby is jumping in her Jumperoo. Watching her fling herself about and laughing her head off is the best entertainment I’ve ever had. Surely something that feels so good can’t be wrong?
My dad used to say two things to me: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” (usually in reference to some opportunity he had given me that I’d failed to appreciate) and “Everything in moderation” (usually when I was eating too much of something). Well, I think the latter is definitely true here, although I know one day I’m going to use the horse metaphor for Baby and I’ll think, “I sound like my father.” As long as I rotate Baby through her toy catalogue and don’t let her have too much of a good thing, then we’ll be okay and her brain will thrive.
Pursuing some of my own brain development, I contacted Tarryn, who is going to be doing some guest blogging for I Carried A Watermelon, giving us helpful ideas about games to play with babies at different developmental stages. I also highly recommend her workshops, one of which I attended today. She went through all the developmental milestones in the first year and which toys are good for what stages. When she brought out the Jumperoo, you should have seen Baby’s excited waggling. She really loves that thing.
I do suffer slightly from baby-toy-buying addiction. Just today a box arrived from America with a selection of fantastic Zolo toys inside. There is something about a well-designed toy that makes my heart go a-flutter. I don’t know who is more excited to play with them: Baby or me. However, that brings me onto something else Tarryn suggested we do: trawl charity shops for old toys. But that’s another blog post for another day. In the meantime, I’m off to let my brain eat itself.