Now that baby Princess is seven months old, I've been thinking about babies and science. How do you nurture a love of science in one so young? Based upon my (admittedly small) sample size of three kids, here are some tips to get you and your little one moving on the road toward scientific literacy:
Talk to your baby. Describe the world you see around you. Point at the clouds and the bird in the tree. Show her items and let her touch them. Is this thing hot or cold? Wet or dry? Soft or hard? Observation is a key component of science.
Listen to your baby. One of the hardest things for me, as an impatient person, is to wait for baby to respond. I tend to babble incessantly at babies unless I really think about it; this does not open up a dialogue. Give your child the time and space to reply to your questions. For example, show your son two items and ask him which one is his favorite. Wait until he reaches for one thing or coos at it, and then hand it to him.
Sit back and watch your baby. Again, this is a challenge for me. If Princess shows an interest in something, I tend to want to replace it with something bigger and better. For example, yesterday we were sitting outside and she started craning her neck to stare at the sky. My first thought? What's wrong with her? Second thought: Oh, she's staring at the sky. I'll bet she sees a neat pattern of leaves in that tree. And my third thought, which I had to sit on: Wow, I'll bet she likes patterns. We should go right now & check out some books about patterns from the library and then we could ... Stop. Stop right there. If your little scientist is observing something and enjoying it, let her. Don't try to change a thing. Our society is so intent on bigger, smarter, faster, quicker that we forget to sit quietly and concentrate.
Get messy. Cause and effect is key for a baby to learn about her world, but it's so hard for parents like me. When Princess grabs the spoon from my hands or wants to stick her foot in the baby food while I'm feeding her, my first instinct is to contain the mess. Unfortunately, that prevents her from learning about her world. Sometimes, she needs to grab that baby food jar and just dump it in her lap. Or mine!
And remember to enjoy your little one. They grow up so fast. When Kerm was a baby, I remember just staring at him in his car seat because I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with him. Oh, how I wish I had that much time now!
P.S. Note to self: Pick up The Scientist in the Crib.
P.P.S. How about these I Love Science onesies from Neat0rama?