My niece Macie turns one year in a month. Right now, she’s at that annoying stage where she sits in her high chair, looks you straight in the eye, gives a cheeky grin, and drops her cup onto the floor.
My sister finds it annoying. I find it hilarious. Of course, I’ve been-there done-that three times, and it’s been five years since one of mine played that game. Because I’m the auntie, I can call it cute and be glad I’m no longer scraping food off the walls.
What this all means is that 11 month old Macie has moved from the this-is-all-about-picking-things-up stage, to the what-will-happen-if-I, what-does-it-feel-like, what-noise-does-it-make stage.
But let’s back up a moment. I’ve got to get you caught up. These fine motor skills began at about 2 to 4 months of age, when she inaccurately swiped at objects. Sometime after 3 months, she could hold small objects in her hand, and within a couple of months, could transfer those objects between her hands. Between 5 and 9 months Macie could first rake at objects with her whole hand to pick them up, and then moved on to picking up small objects using her thumb and index finger. We call this a pincer grasp.
She’ll use this grasp to string beads, close a Ziploc bag, color, hold her glockenspiel mallets in Kindermusik Young Child, build Lego creations, and cut with scissors.
As Macie’s grasp became more precise, she explored objects by moving, twisting, turning and shaking them. Now at almost a year, she’s just about ready for my favorite classic of baby toys – the Tupperware shape sorter, which combines the rotating, moving and flipping skills she learned earlier, which a little cognitive thinking.
When she first learned to sit, Macie would prop herself up on one arm, and explore her playthings with one hand and her mouth. As she learned sit without help, both hands became free to be used to answer her questions about the shape, texture, size, hardness, and weight of objects. She’s using her mouth less (though a lot of children remain really oral for a couple of years, and that’s perfectly okay).
Which brings us back to the cup throwing. And the banging, shaking, squeezing, tapping, twisting and flinging. Is my sister annoyed? You betcha. Her living room floor currently looks like a tornado hit it. So does Macie’s room. And the dining room. And sometimes even the bathroom. (And even the hallway, which occasionally gets mummified by an unwound roll of toilet paper.
But rather than get angry when our babes make a mess, keep this in mind: You already know what a balloon does when you kick it, what noise a cup makes when you throw it, just how fast you can unwind toilet paper (and how long it is!), how scratchy brush bristles feel on your skin – but your little one doesn’t. Someone, long ago, let you taste, touch, feel and manipulate objects. And then helped you learn how to pick up your tornado.
-posted by Miss Analiisa, who suggests you make an ever-changing sensory box filled with varied objects like a sponge, a wooden spoon, a rock, a piece of sandpaper, a feather duster, and egg shaker, a pan lid, a real flower, a jingle bell stick and a stuffed animal for you to explore together.