Heuristic play for babies an introduction

Back in the 80s a child psychologist named Elinor Goldshmeid first used the term Heuristic play. Heuristic play refers to the interaction of babies with everyday objects. This play has been shown to actively improve a child's development skills in areas such as problem solving, it stimulates all of the babies senses and kick starts creative play.

what is heuristic play


If you want to understand why interacting with everyday objects is so enriching for your baby try to look at the world through his or her eyes.
Modern plastic baby toys come in a variety of different colours, shapes and make interesting noises. This is exciting. However as most babies toys are plastic they are all the same to touch, taste and smell.
This is disappointing for baby as in their first year of life their primary way of processing information and learning about the world around them comes from sensory motor development.
You can see this first hand by observing your baby at play. The first response is to grab an new item, the second is to put it in his mouth.

The ideas behind heuristic play I'd that you introduce a selection of real world objects to your baby in the former of a treasure basket. This provides your baby with a stimulating learning experience that helps their long term cognitive development.

This of course isn't a new way of providing stimulus for young children. Children are after all naturally curious and want to explore their environment and work out how things fit and function. My son will actively grab anything within his reach. At the turn of the last century it was common for children not to have toys. My great grandfather told my mother that he never had any toys as a child- she has fond memories of him balling up sheets of paper and rolling them across the floor.

Heuristic play described by Elinor Goldshmeid in her book "Children under 3" (contact written by Sonia Jackson ) is a defined amount of time where children are allowed to explore a variety of objects in controlled environment without adult intervention.

This doesn't mean you can take a break from whilst your baby explores. Heuristic play requires you to be attentive and calm. Your baby needs to be free from distraction and influence in choosing items to explore.
Your baby will need to be able to sit up to explore his treasure basket unguided and it's important that the basket out all of the time, with items being regularly swapped to avoid your baby becoming bored.
The best timing for a baby to explore their treasure basket is when they are well fed, rested and dry. Many parents and carers note that their babies seem to be in a deep state of concentration during treasure basket. So being comfortable will aid them to focus on new discoveries.


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