Like most new moms, I was a crazy worrier about Baby Bear. Was she developing properly? Learning everything "on time". What was she supposed to learn next? How could I help her learn? Honestly, I was obsessed (click here to read a letter to all mamas who think they don't do enough).
And while I still do this sometimes in the back of my head, gradually I have let go of all expectations and just let her do her thing.
Funny story: Baby bear hates having her hands moved. Feet yes, hands no. So it took her FOREVER to learn to clap, like until she was 13 months. By then I was convinced that something must be wrong and brought it up to my dad who led with "don't worry, I promise by age 12 she'll know how to clap". So basically, calm the eff down haha
Because Baby Bear is currently an only child, the truth is that she plays by herself a lot. Not that I'm not there with her but I can't very well sit on the floor for twelve hours each day. Things have to be done (for my sanity!). However because of this, baby bear has become quite good at self entertaining, something I hope she continues with all through her childhood.
Also because of this, I have learned the best lesson:
[clickToTweet tweet="The Best Easiest Way For Babies To Learn Is To Let Them Explore" quote="The Best Easiest Way For Babies To Learn Is To Let Them Explore" theme="style1"]
I'm not kidding. Baby Bear has learned more about day to day stuff by being allowed to explore at her leisure than I could ever have taught her. Instead of me hovering behind her trying to "show" her all the time, she was left to try fail and try again.
By allowing her to explore the rooms in the house on her own (obviously with me close!) she has learned all sorts of everyday tasks. She knows all about taps (even sensor ones), lights, putting clothes on and taking them off. Zippers. Shoes (she freaking loves shoes). Where the garbage is as well as the hamper (so I can say go put this in the hamper and she knows). She knows how to open doors (this actually sucks haha) turn the stereo on and off, open the fridge and how to match her animal puzzle. She knows where the cat food is and how to feed them. Where in her dresser her clothes go (like specifically which drawer is shirts!) and how to help put away dishes. All by the age of 16m.
My mind was blown. I never wanted to be the hover parent but it's definitely easier said than done (like baby gating! Check out why I don't gate here). But by letting her explore on her own and touch things, play with objects and experiment, she has learned so much. Much more than I could have taught her.
While baby groups, scheduled play and planned activities are awesome I urge you to do this one thing: let your baby explore. And let them do it without your hawk eye. Let them experiment and fail and try all over again. The more they do this the more they'll learn. And it's never a bad thing to learn day to day tasks (something we rarely spend time actually teaching!).