resources and inspiration for art making: infants and babies
We believe that all children, even the youngest among us, can be engaged meaningfully through art based play in a way that builds attunement with their caregivers. Babies learn from intently watching what we do and listening to how we describe and interact with the world around us. Importantly, the connections babies build with their caregivers through physical touch, sensory exploration and narration are essential to healthy development. We have collected resources to inspire and inform caregivers about the various ways we can engage the very youngest makers in our care. These collaborative experiences will help to build sensory, motor and cognitive skills as they promote empathic connection between child and caregiver. Art play provides a meaningful way to engage in the dance of attunement in relationship.
what is attunement?
It is a form of reciprocal relationship that forms the building blocks of empathy and connection with others. In child development, we can think of attunement as the caregiver and baby's shared dance of interaction. It can include: responding to each other, picking up on each other's facial or sound cues, mirroring each other's actions, posture, expression and verbalizations, sharing a focus and/or taking turns being responsive to each other. The video to the right introduces this dance with the language of "serve and return" to describe the social feedback loop that shapes how babies learn and grow.
Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
"When we attune with others we allow our own internal state to shift, to come to resonate with the inner world of another. This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of “feeling felt” that emerges in close relationships. Children need attunement to feel secure and to develop well, and throughout our lives we need attunement to feel close and connected.” ~Dan Seigel
The importance of seeing every experience as an opportunity to explore is something the children in our care teach us again and again. When cultivating sensory experiences for babies, the play invitations can be simple and must be safe. Think about light, color, texture and sound and how you can further engagement be attuning to their responses.
Learn more about the benefits of sensory play and discover ideas for this kind of exploration at home!
The Hidden Gem
"Play is the highest form of research."
- Albert Einstein
art and play
A Year of Play - Zero to Three Parent Resource
talk out what you see
Giving words to experience not only helps your little one to develop language and expand their vocabulary, it is vital in building connection. Below you can watch an excellent example of an attuned verbal and non-verbal conversation between DJ Pryor and his son. Even though his son's words are syllabic in nature, the matched cadence of speech and shared gestures are communicating connection, importance and care. Please also follow the link to TED talks on the genius of babies and to learn more about promoting language development.
Conversation between DJ and Kingston Pryor
"Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they'll become."
offer accessible & safe materials
When engaging young children in art play we must be sensitive to the types of materials that we offer in regard to safety and accessibility. Chunky or shaped crayons allow for experimenting with grip and developing hand strength as your little one explores making marks on paper. Consider an art experience that can engage your little one as they strengthen their core during tummy time. Be sure to offer only non-toxic materials and be mindful of things that are small enough to go in your child's mouth. It is possible, and really enjoyable, to safely engage in art play together. When your baby is ready to pick up a spoon, consider what tools you could use to paint, sculpt or engage in water play.