I read this brilliant blog post by Nicole from the Kavanaugh Report on providing meaningful choices for babies and toddlers and it really resonated with me. I want my daughter to learn that she can impact on her surroundings – that her desires are valid, and that the choices she makes are important. I don’t see why we should make decisions which she can already be making just because she is a baby!
There are lots of ways in which we already encourage Frida to make choices. Her books are stored either in baskets on the floor or on low shelves, so that she can help herself and choose when and what she would like us to read.
Her toys and activities are kept on low shelves which she has full access to now that she can crawl and pull herself up. This means that she dictates what she plays with and works on, not us (the exception being if I set up a specific activity such as playdough or painting, though if she then shows me she is not interested then I would not force her to continue).
We also let Frida take the lead when it comes to what and how much to eat. I have always breastfed her on demand and continue to do so, and we follow baby-led weaning. This means she has all of her meals with us, eating the same food, and she has complete control over what she chooses to eat and how much of it she eats. This is much less stressful for everyone involved and means she has meaningful choice.
In short, we try to be as child-led as possible, following her cues for sleep, boredom, and what she wants (or doesn’t want) to do.
I was inspired to read in Nicole’s blog post that she has been offering her daughter a choice of clothing since she was around seven months old, holding out two options and seeing which one she picks. I always knew we would let Frida choose her clothes, but it hadn’t occurred to me to start so soon.
Since reading Nicole’s post we have been offering Frida a choice of two items of clothing each morning, showing her two dresses, or two pairs of leggings for example. She has really responded to this, and will carefully consider both options before leaning forward and touching one of them, which I then dress her in. What a lovely start to the day. I am looking forward to developing this choice with her as she gets older and can choose more than one item, and can start to verbalise her choices.
Thank you very much Nicole for the inspiration!