Involve baby in cleaning up!
It feels good to sit down and blog, it’s been hard to find time lately! But, I’m back and I want you to encourage a baby to clean up after themselves. Having babies engage in clean up activities develops cognitive skills such as memory, attention, language and problem solving. It’s important to provide lots of role models of cleaning up to build a good understanding. Once babies are able to follow some simple directions, typically around eight to ten months of age, they are ready to begin interacting in clean up tasks.
Check out the video example. Please excuse my singing and videography, I did the best I could trying to rein my son in, gather the many items strewn across the kitchen and maintain his attention. In the video, my son had to remember the task we were doing. He also had to attend to it and you can see his attention is very short. Babies need lots of reminders, because their attention span is brief and they are easily distracted. He thought he was finished after putting one item away and then closing the door. I had to redirect him back to the task. When initially teaching clean up, after baby puts a single item away, make a big deal of it, providing lots of verbal reinforcement and then let baby go on about their business. My son has been working on clean up for a while now, so I decided to keep going with him until we were done putting all things away. You have to start small then grow. My son is using receptive and expressive language skills by understanding what I’m asking and following directions and singing/vocalizing along. I LOVE that he has started singing during clean up. The clean up song works wonders. I’ve had success with it across settings in the classroom, therapy and home. Pair the act of clean up with singing: “clean up, clean up everybody, everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.” You can also try: “toys away, toys away, time to put the toys away.” Singing helps to gain and maintain babies interests. My son is also using the problem solving skills of open/close, in/out, neat/messy and size/shape. Lots of good things going on here!
I realize this cannot be done every time you go to clean up or transition baby between tasks but attempt to do it at least once day. It takes practice to teach babies the understanding and routine of clean up. It also takes patience, a little extra time and lots of redirection to keep them from pulling back out what they just put away. I’ve worked with my son a lot to get to where we are. I’ve sung the clean up song and modeled cleaning up with him since he was very young, holding him as I sang and put toys away. Then I moved to guiding his hands to place items away during cleanup. At twelve months old, he has just now started to really engage with the task. Of course, littles definitions of clean up and the parents is much different, but it’s all about developing the concept, value and importance of cleaning up. So when mommy says, “time to clean up” that means we are putting things away. It also builds the foundation for responsibility. Having babies help with clean up supports their cognitive skill development, so why not give it a try?! I challenge you, let me know how it goes! Also, please share any clean up songs or tricks you have.
Peace & Love,