Let's be honest, as cute as newborn babies are, they are a bit boring. Yes, the cuddles are the best, their smell intoxicating, and looking back, it was a time when little Bear slept amazingly well. But that was all he did: nurse, sleep, poop, repeat.
Then along came an amazing piece of material – a chiffon scarf and suddenly little Bear began to engage more with the sensory world around him. From 8 weeks old little Bear has loved the feeling of chiffon scarves over his skin after he was introduced to them at one of our Baby Sensory classes. Following this class I found my old prom chiffon scarf, which I hadn't used since (£20 well spent), and added it to little Bear's toy box. We used to run it over his face and he would smile or coo. It was such a wonderful thing to see him start to engage in the world and respond to playing with it. Also, it used to be a great way to calm him down when he was starting to become fractious. Isn't is amazing how much joy can be had from a piece of material?
Flash forward almost 30 weeks and if I put a scarf in either his toy or sensory box then you can be sure he'll go straight for it – that is unless he hears some jingle bells (his absolute favourite). It has become an old reliable and we've now built up a collection of different coloured scarves too.
When he was six months old we used the scarves as a way of introducing little Bear to his cot. The scarves were used as a sensory play hook to get him used to his new sleeping environment and create positive associations.
In this photo you can see how we used the scarves to help create a colourful rainbow sensory theme for little Bear's independent cot play time. He would reach up to feel the textures of the scarves and try to pull them down too. Using these familiar items helped him to quickly settle into his cot and after two months of trying to get him to nap in his cot through other means, after using these as part of adopting a positive multi-sensory approach to sleep little Bear was napping in his cot after a week – a real break through at the time.
All this being said there are weeks where the scarf has fallen out of favour with little Bear, however over the last few days they have returned as a new favourite meaning that we just had to take one on holiday with us. He has become somewhat obsessed with feeling the texture of them and a range of other fabrics at the moment. Consequently, I've been trying to think of new ways we can use the scarves during little Bear's sensory play time and he has loved using them when we sing Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. I use the scarf firstly as if to wash his head before then draping it over the rest of his body.
He has also been going through a bit of separation anxiety and will have a mini tantrum if I start to move away from him at the moment (nice insight into the terrible twos I fear). To help him understand that I will always return we've used to scarves to play Peekaboo together. Firstly, I cover his face with the scarf and ask where he is before removing it and saying 'peekaboo' which causes him to grin and laugh. After a few goes, when I say 'peekaboo' he pulls it down himself; then we swap so I put the scarf over my face and then say 'peekaboo' to him when removing the scarf. This helps little Bear to learn more about the concept of object permanence and has gone a little way to helping him start to understand that, whilst he may not always be able to see me, I will return.
Finally, as was the case today, we also use the scarves to help us play dress up – today the scarf served as a very useful and essential item – a cape!
What other ideas do you have for using scarves with your little ones?
Mama Bear x