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When do children start using their imaginations to play?

(23 Posts)
base Sat 27-Dec-08 11:59:48

DD is 14 months.

I've brought her a teaset and mini kitchen, I play with her and show her what to do. I just wondered when they start using their imagination when playing.

I have a mini shop thing with pretend food which I havent given her yet, I'm wondering when would be the best time. If I give it to her now, will it confuse her? Will she tink its real food?

pantomimEDAMe Sat 27-Dec-08 12:10:50

No, of course she won't think it's real food, give her some credit!

I wouldn't worry too much about showing her what to do - let her explore it and do her own thing if she's interested. Just follow her lead, don't force her into your tramlines.

Suspect she might be a bit little for teasets and shops although they are all different, of course. Think ds's toy kitchen was a favourite when he was 2ish to 3ish.

Anna8888 Sat 27-Dec-08 12:20:06

The important thing is to have the kind of toys you mentioned in your OP around and about, ready for your DD to pick up on when she feels ready. And to read her lots of good stories with lovely pictures to feed her imagination. My DD loved Angelina Ballerina from about 2.6 and that was great for feeding her imagination - she started dancing around thinking she was a princess, having picnics etc.

At just over 1 your DD is quite little but she might like mini versions of your toys eg a little battery operated hoover and washing machine.

AMIStletoekiss Sat 27-Dec-08 12:20:11

At 14 months she may copy things she's seen you do, but won't really be "pretending" yet. Don't worry about confusing her - as long as the things you give her aren't small enough to be a choking hazard (so long as they're labelled OK for under 3's they're safe, if not just keep any small bits back till she's older). She will spot that it's not real food because of the smell and texture being wrong - TBH the fact that it looks like food to you won't probably even occur to her, and she'll be just as happy to put other things into the pans and on the plates. Just let her do whatever she likes with it - in another year or so she'll probably play pretend teaparties but she's not old enough yet to really "get" that side of it.

IAmTheNewQueenOfMN Sat 27-Dec-08 12:22:39

dont teach her how to play with it
and of course she will know its not real food

were you really worried about that?

just allow her top explore it

it doesn[t mater if she cooks pooh bear and serves up lego for tea

and she will be using her imagination now

PavlovtheRedNosedReindeer Sat 27-Dec-08 12:27:17

She will be using her imagination now, and any time now she will start actively displaying it, she wont think it is real food, but she might try to eat it any way!!!

base Sat 27-Dec-08 12:38:18

My dd has an obession with bananas, she would eat nothing but bananas all day long if I let her. I even have to cover the fruit bowl with a tea towel because if shes them she will point at them and keep saying 'rana repeatadly. I'm worried that if I give her fake food, like a banana, she will think its real abd be upset when she realises its not.

I dont think that is too crazy a notion

base Sat 27-Dec-08 12:41:26

And yes IamthenewqueenofMN I realise its PLAYING I just wondered when she would start to pretend to serve tea or have a pretend picnic.

pantomimEDAMe Sat 27-Dec-08 12:44:01

Well, you have lots of mothers who have experience of small children suggesting it is a bit of a stretch... I really wouldn't worry about it!

TheTwelveDAISYofChristmas Sat 27-Dec-08 12:50:58

I wouldn't worry about the banana thing.

We have similar issues with satsumas at the minute with our 19mo old DD, but she will quite happily play with a pretend orange without wanting a real one.

IME she will play with things now, exploring them, putting things in and out of baskets, drinking from the cups etc, but won't do pretend scenarios until she is about two.

EachPeachPearMum Sat 27-Dec-08 12:59:22

They're all different! DD understood when I pretended to eat off a wooden spoon, and she found it hilarious- she just took it from there- think she was around 13 mo.

EachPeachPearMum Sat 27-Dec-08 13:00:05

Meant to say a lot of 'pretending' is copying mummy and daddy, and acting out what they do- she will start this with relish, as babies love being like mummy and daddy.

ghosty Sat 27-Dec-08 13:06:06

DS used to look at me like I was a nutter when I tried to pretend with him. TBH at the age of 9 he still has the imagination of a lettuce leaf. He just isn't that kind of child - never did role play or any kind of 'pretend' games easily.
One funny time my friend and I heard him gently tell my friend's little boy that 'It isn't a REAL chicken you know' when they were playing shops grin
DD, on the other hand, who is nearly 5, has been 'pretending' since she was really young - possibly 12/14 months ... dressing up, pretending to 'cook', pretending to mow the lawn' etc etc.

SnowOfHands Sat 27-Dec-08 13:12:44

I think at that age dd was much better at copying than pretending ie hoovering, pushing a box round like a pushchair etc Now at 19 months she has picnics/feed all of her toys/pours tea/cooks with all sorts of improvised implements and paraphernalia. The thing is, when they play imaginatively the props don't really matter. It's nice to have them of course but dd's happy with a cardboard box, some stolen cutlery, a biro and a pillocase. The possibilities are endless.

base Sat 27-Dec-08 13:16:32

Ghosty my dd puts any item of clothing she comes across (normally pulled from the laundry basket) over her head and can spend ages walking around with it around her neck, I wondered if this was a form of 'dressing up'.

When she was really young, like my dd, did you give her special clothes to play dress up?

TheTwelveDAISYofChristmas Sat 27-Dec-08 13:55:47

base, DD does that as well, with anyone's clothes and has recently started it with shoes......but ignores any of her DBs dressing up clothes.

Like SOH says, it's more copying at this age than pretend play, and I totally agree about the props thing; when they do start pretend play a coat will become a wonderful ball gown, or whatever......but at the minute, it's just a coat.

Reallytired Sat 27-Dec-08 14:05:20

I think my son was about 14 months when he started imaginary play. He picked up a spoon and pretended to feed a doll at mother and toddlers group. However I think he was copying another child he had seen earlier in the day.

It really is just exploration and its quite unpredictable what your child will first choose to do. In many ways its part of the fun of it. If you controlled the immaginary play it would not be immaginary play.

Hulababy Sat 27-Dec-08 14:08:50

DD played at feeding her dolls (had a mini kitchen), chatting to them and taking them for a walk in a pram at 12 months. Obviously at this age she was just being a mini me, copying all the things she saw me do with her. But she loved her babies and her imaginative play really took over the following few months. Btween 18m-2y she started to really get into Happyland too.

base Sat 27-Dec-08 17:33:27

I've got happyland stuff upstairs that I brought off of a friend. She said dd would be into it now but I'm holding it back as I think she's too young to 'get' it.

Reallytired Sat 27-Dec-08 18:17:22

She will be into happyland very soon, but its like walking. Some children walk at nine months and other children walk at 18 months.

Child development is not a competition, its a journey. My little boy might have discovered imaginary play at 14 months, but he took his first steps at 20 months old.

lou031205 Sat 27-Dec-08 18:50:41

base, she might surprise you if you just let her take the lead a bit! Try not to worry if she is playing with it in the 'right' way.

DD1 (3) has some developmental delays which were only picked up in September. She never played imaginatively, until about 3 weeks ago, when she gave my husband a saucepan lid and said "cake". The next day she picked up the same lid, and said "broom, broom", steering like a wheel.

So I was amazed when DD2 (16mo) has been passing me 'food' and feeding dolly with her bottle. I have been shocked that she instinctively 'knows' what to do.

We have bought them a play kitchen as a joint present for Christmas as they seem to be at the same stage developmentally, and DD2 has been putting bits of food in the oven, using the spatulas in frying pans and so on.

I really, honestly think that if you just allow her to explore, she will instinctively develop imaginative play for herself. However, if you teach her 'how' to do it, she may look to you to guide her for every step because she will think there is a 'right' way to do it.

Hulababy Sat 27-Dec-08 22:17:02

My current fave toy to buy for little ones to encourage imaginative and creative play is a Bilabo - basically a plastic bowl with a couple of holes in. Fab. Bought one for my 2y niece and my 14m old godson. They have no purpose but children just seem to "get" it - and just play in their own way with it.

ghosty Sun 28-Dec-08 01:00:52

Hi base

I am a very lazy parent. I didn't give DD dress ups at all - any dress ups she has got are gifts ... she has two fairy dresses that she doesn't wear because they are itchy. DS had dress ups but he never wore them. DD regularly wears DS's cowboy outfit and postman pat outfit ...
What she does do now is tie a dressing gown belt around her waist and puts socks on her hands and goes around miauing like a cat hmm.
I wouldn't worry about your little girl and her imagination - she will be happy to do pretend mixing with plastic bowls and wooden spoons for ages ...
DD's kindergarten had a 'child led' policy based around the NZ kindergarten system (google it, very interesting). Teachers do not teach ... they do not direct the children in any role play. They have the equipment out for everything (active play, water play, role play, writing, painting etc) but they never say, "Let's draw a cat" or "Let's build a sandcastle" as that is 'directing' a child and a child should lead his or her own play.
So DS went throught the NZ kindergarten system and never 'got' any imaginative stuff without direction - he hated kindergarten and was bored with it. When school started we realised that DS was a very bright boy who thrived on the 'sit down and learn this' type thing.
DD has had that same kind of kindergarten philosophy (in Australia though) and she has thrived on Kindy ... her imagination has gone wild with no direction at all ...
It will be interesting how she copes with school (starts in Feb) as she doesn't like to be directed at all .... hmm
What I am saying is that every child is different. If you have the toys and she watches you a lot she will start pretending and playing ... don't all toddlers these days spend a lot of time 'on the phone'? grin

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