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How do I play with my child?

(23 Posts)
Lisa Wed 30-May-01 20:29:41

I am a first-time mother with almost no experience of children, and I think I am still in shock at the situation! My daughter is 10 months old and I really don't know how to play with her or if what I am doing is right.

She is not mobile yet so gets very frustrated. I get out her usual toys and do try to play with her for periods, and then leave her alone to play, yet as soon as I retreat she screams! She didn't used to be like this, she used to play on her own just fine. I know she gets bored of her toys and I have tried to be imaginative but I don't know where to start. I try playing in different rooms with her, keeping different toys in each room, and this works for about 10 minutes. I give her household objects to play with but she gets bored of these too.

What am I doing wrong? Does anyone have any other suggestions for playing with my child? Should I insist that she play alone for a while, or give in to her demands? She does get to socialise, but 3 days out of 5 we are alone together. Any ideas anyone?

Janh Wed 30-May-01 21:23:35

not being mobile must be very frustrating for her at this age; my second daughter didn't crawl till she was 1 and she used to get fed up too...

it could also be that she is ready for more challenging toys - and even just different ones - do you know anybody you could swap toys with?

i think you are going to have to take her with you around the house, rather than leave her alone, until she is able to move by herself - she is old enough now to mind being left, and she doesn't actually know where you've gone. while she can't move she should be quite safe in the middle of the floor in any room...get a stairgate though!

did she ever go in a doorway bouncer? i don't know what the upper weight limit is for those but if she ever liked it you could try that...although my late crawler was the only one of mine who didn't like it!

Bloss Wed 30-May-01 21:48:35

Message withdrawn

Candy Wed 30-May-01 21:52:13

One nice idea is to have a low drawer in the kitchen full of safe household items like wooden spoons, box of lentils to shake etc: she can then play in "her" area, whilst you work around her - even better if you can change the contents every now and then!
Also, you could try letting her look at any photographs you've got that aren't good enough to go in the album - young children love looking at faces and it won't matter about her chewing on them if they'd otherwise just be stuck in a box.
Also have you tried letting her listen to a music tape in her chair whilst you work - or relax (even better!)

Chairmum Thu 31-May-01 00:34:40

Your baby is just at the age when she won't like being left on her own, because she has no concept of time, and also because *you* are her favourite toy!

All the ideas here for taking her with you as you do the chores are great. The kitchen can be a wonderful place to play, (so long as she can reach nothing dangerous, of course). Saucepans, cake tins, tupperware-type boxes, wooden spoons, sieves, empty packets, inners from paper kitchen towel can all be utilised. She could even play with some veggies, such as potatoes or carrots.

It would be worth checking at your local library or with the council to see whether they run a Toy Library. They're run as a conventional library but you borrow toys instead of books. There is usually a small charge. It's also a good way of finding out whether your child likes a particular toy before you spend money on buying it, especially for expensive items.

Janh Thu 31-May-01 10:08:46

the low drawer in the kitchen is brilliant for them, even after they can move - one of my sons had one for a long time and when he got bigger he used to chuck all the things out of it and sit in it himself (you need strong runners for that though!). if you have space you could let her have a drawer in other rooms too...she's young enough to forget what is in there and to be delighted each time she rediscovers something!

putting things in things and taking things out of things is one of the activities they go on enjoying for a long time so tupperware and ice cream boxes are great, with lots of smaller things like cotton reels (you can buy a tub of them from ELC i think) to put in them - but be very careful with shapes and sizes, small round things are a very bad idea - they want to be too big to even go in her mouth. my mind has gone blank as to the other small things we used to put in bogger things but i'm sure lots of people still at that stage will have ideas.

have you got any child development books? i had a set called "your one year old" etc by some americans - one was called frances ing or something like that - they tell you what to expect at each stage and are very helpful, AND reassuring when your child is doing something you think is awful but is actually completely normal!

Batters Thu 31-May-01 12:29:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lisa Thu 31-May-01 14:29:11

Thanks for all the advice you've given me! Now I have some ideas to go on!

Re Batters idea, I actually live in Preston, although your clubs sound great, does anyone know of one near to where I live?

I am hassling my husband for a sand-pit for her to play in, but we get so few fine days in the North! Still, it's nice to know that everyone else's kids acted the same way mine does, I don't know many people with kids the same age as mine so I never know if what she is doing is normal. I think the biggest question I had was, it is ok to leave them to play by themselves for stretches, or are you abandoning them? And when does your attention become too much attention? I don't want to spoil her.

Who ever said that this was easy!!!

Joe Thu 31-May-01 14:48:50

I go to a toy library with my son, which he loves and I meet different mums (he is 8.5 months). He also comes all over the house with me, in the garden when hanging washing etc, be it in his high chair, sat on the settee surrounded by cushions and toys, middle of the room, on the bed surrounded with pillows, laid on the floor (he loves to have a kick around with no toys), his door bouncy thing and his little push around car. Sometimes he will play happily on his own sometimes he wont depends on what mood he is in. I always take each day as it comes. Have you tried swimming, we go to different pools at least once a week, this always wears him out. My son also prefers to be outside than indoors so I take him out as much as possible, like already mentioned to the park, round the block, nice fresh air for both of us. Try not to fret as your child will pick up on this, just enjoy, they are only this age once, so dont worry about spoiling her.

Chairmum Thu 31-May-01 18:00:07

I don't really think you can spoil a baby by giving them too much attention. They learn so much from you and the interaction helps them learn new things.

I never really left mine all alone to play because I didn't feel it was safe. I once had my eldest in a highchair, while I vacummed, but when I finished I found he had slipped out and was hanging down by the harness. There was no damage done, apart from a very upset baby and mummy, but it taught me a lesson.

But if a baby is happy to sit on the floor and play beside you, that's great. One of mine hated anyone joining in his games and much preferred me to just be there, without 'interfering' with his games!

Janh Thu 31-May-01 18:43:09

lisa, do get a sandbox - i live in lancs too, it's not THAT bad, doesn't rain EVERY day!
if you get a big plastic sandbox with a lid (eg from ELC) the lid usually has a roadway for cars and a shallow recess for water, and you can keep the sand dry and free from cats...we only have a backyard so the sand went everywhere but was v popular for a long time (they still have sand in reception classes.)
on the odd occasion it is hot, stick her in her baby bath (i assume you still have it) with some toys. or get a paddling pool, they're very good value too but you must stay with her while she's in it....
it is absolutely fine to leave them alone for a bit, as long as they don't mind - it gives them inner resources (!!!). but while she minds, keep her with you.
and nobody ever said it was easy!!! (it gets differently difficult as they get older...)

Lisa Thu 31-May-01 20:36:18

You're right Janh, it's not that bad really! I appreciate what you are all saying about keeping her with me at all times, I do try to do this, but she never seems very happy wherever I take her. I feel as though I should be doing something creative with her, but my lack of imagination lets me down.

I guess until she starts moving she is going to be quite frustrated. I do try to encourage her to crawl and move about more, she can bottom shuffle a little, but she gives up so easily and just screams at me. It is a frustrating time for both of us!

I also appreciate what Chairmum said about the dangers of leaving her alone, I too had an accident with a high chair, I sat her in it whilst I did some cooking and looked back just in time to see her slip under her harness and onto the floor - no harm done but a lesson learnt in getting second-hand high chairs. I wish I was one of those mums who spends hours with their child finger-painting or stringing beads. Trouble is she still eats everything and I'm afraid of her painted fingers going in her mouth, same with most things really.

Still I have a few ideas to go on now, and I'm sure it will get better when she's able to explore for herself. I just can't wait until she's old enough to bake with me, or draw pictures, or garden! Am I wishing her life away already? It's such a niggly age for her, and it doesn't help that most of the babies she mixes with are around 16 months old; whilst their parents are off running around the garden with them, I have to sit with mine who cries after them.
Please tell me that in 6 weeks time she'll be mobile!

Joe Fri 01-Jun-01 09:12:35

Lisa - dont worry, we all think at some time, what can I do next to keep them happy. Perhaps your daughter is picking up on your anxiety abit?? When the 16 month old babies are running around perhaps run around after them too while carrying your daughter, you will be surprised how much you will both laugh (my son loves it). Have you got any mother a toddler groups near you, these are great places to swop ideas and support.

Tigermoth Fri 01-Jun-01 10:21:39

Lisa, please don't be too hard on yourself about not doing 'creative' things with your daughter.

My first son was never really into toys. As he and his little friends approached early toddlerhood, I began to see that other mothers were out collecting dry leaves to stick onto paper, making clay animals etc etc and thought I must give my son some creative stimulation too. So I decided we would make christmas cards together.

I bought some sponges cut out in festive shapes, and some nice paint and paper to do some printing. This activity was apparently well within his age ability. While my son was having a nap, I set out saucers of paint on the kitchen floor and put the paper and sponges within easy reach. It looked so artistic and I felt like a really good mother.

When my son woke up, I took off his T shirt to save it getting messy. I carried him into the kitchen, and explained how we were going to make some wonderful christmas cards. He understood what I was getting at and looked at the array of paint with delightful anticipation.

As I sat him down with him on the floor, he made a grab at a sponge, loaded paint on it and started daubing his legs with it. Every attempt to get him to print with the sponges failed. He had found a wonderful new game: getting paint on every inch of his body!

Anyway, to backtrack to his babyhood. At 10 months old, what he did enjoy far more than his toys was being taken out. He loved watching things and while we were out I would let him explore as much as possible: touching the bark on a tree, stroking a friendly cat, smelling a rose, pretending to read a leaflet. Little things like that seemed to keep him far more stimulated and happy than playing with toys. And sometimes we could take these things of interest back home to amuse him when we were inside. What's more, because he didn't need extra special entertaining, I could go where I wanted, so we were both happy. At least sometimes. Not saying our days were exactly idyllic!

Joe Fri 01-Jun-01 12:13:08

Tigermoth - I agree with the get them out doors my son is at his happiest being bundled in and of the car all day, going to see my ponies, beach, anywhere he can see lots really.

Lisa Sun 03-Jun-01 19:42:06

Just bought a sand-pit! Thanks for all your help everyone, I just needed to know I wasn't doing anything wrong!

Janh Mon 04-Jun-01 17:13:25

way to go, lisa! let's hope we now get some sun for your daughter to use it in!
btw make sure you get proper silver sandpit sand for it - anything else can stain. you can get it at garden centres, which makes it easier to get it into the car than from ELCs, which tend to be in town centres....

Lisa Tue 05-Jun-01 09:34:33

Oops! My hubbies just gone and put a load of builder's sand in it! He says sand is sand and it makes no difference! Are there really different types of sand? Will builder's sand be ok for her? I'm worried now!

Debsb Tue 05-Jun-01 10:04:04

Lisa, builders sand is ok, but you may find clothes & hands start turning pale orange! It does seem to wash out though. My kids actually prefer this to the silver sand, as it clumps together better when wet, much better for mud pies!

Bugsy Tue 05-Jun-01 11:24:31

You don't have to spend a fortune on toys to amuse your little girl. When our little boy was 10 months he used to love touching things and feeling them. We used to give him the lids from jars of babyfood, lots of containers and spoons. He liked feeling the different shapes of things like eggcups, whisks, colanders, saucepan lids. We also strung some beads for him. Huge great chunky beads on very strong thick string. We made sure it was safe. One of his favourite activities was putting the beads in and out of a plastic mixing bowl. We also gave him different bits of material - go to your local charity shop and buy old scarves made from silky material, wool etc and let her feel them. They also like watching them being swished around.
Also have you thought about a baby walker or bouncer? I'm sure if you search the mumsnet boards you will see the relative merits of these things discussed.
You may well find that as your little girl gets older she will want to spend more time with you. At 10 months they really don't have the ability to amuse themselves for long. Play is not something that comes automatically to children it is a skill that they have to learn.
Glad to hear the sand pit is a success. Have fun.

Lisa Wed 06-Jun-01 14:07:10

Tried the sandpit yesterday, she ate it! In fact she wouldn't stop eating it! Is this a problem? But now it's raining so I'll have to entertain her myself. I've started putting different toys in different rooms, so when she gets bored of one room, I'll take her in another and she has a whole new set of toys to play with - this seems to work!

Twinsmum Wed 06-Jun-01 14:16:59

Hi Lisa
I wouldn't worry too mcuh about your daughter eating things. Is the sand the special stuff intended for get it in places like the early Learning Centre? My two eat absolutely everything. Crayons/chalk/sand etc. Obviously I try and discourage them but sometimes you just can't get to them in time.
Most kiddies stuff is non toxic so shouldn't really cause any problems. (As long as it doesn't get stuck in throat)

Janh Wed 06-Jun-01 14:17:55

lisa - re eating sand - the only problem is gritty nappies, as far as i know...takes loads of wipes to get them clean!

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