Our baby has hit that glorious stage: Putting Things in Things!  He wants to take every object he can get his paws on and put it into any kind of container he can procure.  It may be tempting to start buying your kid lots of official “learning toys” when he hits this stage, but try to restrain yourself.  He is going to go after every object in your house anyway, so save a few bucks and let him hone his skills with whatever you’ve got lying around.

From our experience, here are a few ways to try to get the most out of baby’s new-found love of organization.

Encourage precision:

At about eighteen months, our oldest son and his coustwin usurped a yarn organizer and a package of colored pencils to invent a sorting game that requires a steady hand.  The target is 10 mm in diameter, so the child has to aim carefully and adjust often.

When we got tired of them breaking the tips off of the colored pencils, we substituted a set of ten plastic chopsticks for the same effect with the added bonus of counting practice.  Our younger son, now fourteen months, can’t get enough of it!  He is also learning to open and close the container on his own.

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Work out that pincer grasp:

Our little guy broke into the pantry and dumped a box of pasta on the floor the other day.  Here, he and big brother are cleaning up by picking up noodles and sorting them into a muffin tin.  Giving baby small objects to sort helps develop his pincer grasp.  Useful for self-feeding now and hand-writing later, the pincer grasp is a critical element in fine motor development.

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Put that baby to work:

Truly, once your kiddo is into putting things in containers, now’s the time to train him to clean up after himself.  Even very young children can put away their own toys, particularly if you use accessible, open storage such as bins and buckets.  At this age, our kids have both started putting their own dirty clothes down the laundry shoot as well.  You might as well make these things a habit while your children enjoy it.  If you pick up after them until they’re ten, you’ll have a heck of a time convincing them to do it themselves.

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