Darling Daughter turned 10 months old last week.
Although I do not often post specifics about her, our daughter is, of course, the most important part of our life, and especially now that we are self-quarantining, she and I have been pretty much together 24/7.
One of my favorite past times lately has been reading more and more about the Montessori approach to child education, both in school and at home. More on that in a future post, but suffice it to say, one of the main tenets, as I understand it, is OBSERVATION. Observing our children in order to help them meet their needs at a given moment. Maria Montessori noticed that young children are inclinedtowards learning, but we, as parents and caregivers, sometimes hinder that learning by projecting on our children what we think or are told they should be learning at a certain time. By observing a child, rather than leading her, one is better able to find toys and activities that can help her during whichever sensitive period she is in.
Since we are stuck inside for the most part, it’s been a great time for observation. And what DD seems to be most interested in currently is making noise! Montessori, along with most other child development philosophies, believes very strongly in the importance of music and rhythm, not just for the enjoyment, but also for the practical math and patterning skills it involves. DD has always been musically/rhythmically inclined; her first intentional smile was while I was singing to her, and she learned to clap just before turning 7 months.
Before we self-isolated, we were regularly going to our Familjcentrals (Family Center’s) Baby Cafe, where they had a sing-along twice a week for babies under 1. DD was just starting to love the songs with maracas, but since we’ve been stuck at home, we’ve been missing that music. Well-made baby maracas are out of our price range, so I’ve had to improvise.
I wanted something that was easy for her to hold, of course, but also preferably non-plastic, as she is also teething, and thus putting everything in her mouth. There are tons of blogposts and videos that recommend using empty spice bottles for maracas/rattles (My favorite is Hapa Family – click here for a great video of Montessori activities on a budget!), but the spice bottles we have available are either plastic, or of such a sturdy glass they were heavy for DD.
So I went looking for something else to use. I had a lot of metal jar lids laying around, and I noticed that I had several lids that were just ever so slightly differently sized, and if I pushed them together, the smaller one would “click” inside the lip of the larger one, making a hollow disc.
Bingo! I found three pairs that fit securely and sanitized them in the dishwasher. Now I just needed something to put inside! First I tried uncooked rice, which made a great noise. However, the grains managed to slip out of the thin space between the lids even though the lids fit securely and weren’t coming apart. This could be solved by putting a thin line of glue between the lids, but I was wary about putting glue on something that would be going in her mouth and I also wanted to be able to take these apart as needed.
So back to the pantry I went! Thankfully, since we’re trying to avoid the grocery store as much as possible right now, it was well-stocked with non-perishable goods. Dried chickpeas or lentils worked great. If the lids had been deep enough, larger dried beans would have worked as well; however, unpopped popcorn was my personal favorite.
So there you go! Homemade, non-toxic baby maracas that are ergonomic for baby’s hand. Now to figure out how to make DIY noise-cancelling headphones for Hubby!