Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to Teach Your Baby to Clean Up

Making his first mess!

Ever since Caden was a baby people have been amazed to see him clean up his toys and other messes. They were in awe that a child so young could and would do it. I think people greatly underestimate what babies and toddlers can do. They are little sponges just waiting to soak up every ounce of knowledge they can. We must take advantage of this time to instill in them good habits before they reach the age where they realize those things aren't fun to do! But if it's something they have been doing for as long as they can remember, it becomes second nature to them and they don't think twice about it.

That doesn't mean Caden is perfect. He still is 2! He sometimes gets distracted and starts playing with the toys again instead of cleaning them up. But overall, he is a clean child, especially when he spills something. He doesn't need me to tell him to clean it up because he freaks out! He's a little OCD about food getting on him or his eating area.

Anyway, here are some tips to help you teach your baby how to clean up the toys:
  1. Start as soon as Baby can play with toys on his or her own, around 6 months. At the end of the day, sing the "Clean Up" song as you put away the toys while Baby watches you. It is important that Baby sees you do this and is not in another room or sleeping. 
  2. Be consistent so Baby knows and expects this everyday. Once you've established the daily habit of cleaning up, help Baby pick up a toy or two and put them away.
  3. Clean up more frequently as Baby's play times increase. Good times to clean up are before nap, before dinner, and before bed. You can also teach putting away one toy before getting out another.
  4. Wait patiently for Baby to help you clean up on his or her own (Caden did at about 12 months). Never force it. Give lots of praise when it finally happens so Baby knows it is a good and positive thing to do. 
  5. Continue to do this and soon you won't need to help at all! However, it is not bad to still help because it teaches your toddler team work and kindness (he or she is more likely to help you clean your messes in return).
As your baby becomes a toddler and starts to learn things like colors, shapes, and numbers, you can incorporate this learning into cleaning up. For example, ask your toddler to pick up a red toy. If your toddler gets distracted and wants to play with the toys again, make cleaning up a game. For example, pretending to wash the dishes in the play kitchen and putting them away, driving the cars back into their bucket, or pushing stuffed animals in a shopping cart to the bed.

Good luck! You and your baby can do this and have a mess free home!


Alexandra said...

Great ideas! I wonder if the clean thing is a first child thing. Our is the same with food and spills. haha

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