Have you ever tried to fold laundry with a baby or toddler? If so you may know how difficult it can be to not only get the laundry folded but entertain your child as well. With some mindful parenting we can embed learning into daily activities and routines that are already taking place everyday. Laundry is something that you probably do almost everyday. By including your little one you allow them repeated practice of these skills because the activity is repeated so often.
In this post I will tell you how to get this task completed while teaching your little one.
Laundry provides a perfect time to play this baby favorite which will teach them to cue into your face which is a very important skill for language development. The social play is just what a newborn needs so you can start this when they are very young. Always watch for your baby’s cues, if they seem frightened when you say “Boo!” take a step back and just smile at your little one when you peek from behind the towel.
Touching and Feeling
All babies learn through sight, sound, movement, and touch. Cognitive skills develop as they process the information presented to them from their environment. Feeling the different fabric allows your baby to explore something new to them. A washcloth feels completely different from a pair of jeans. Take the fabric and gently brush it against their palm allowing them to explore the sensation. Your baby may try to grab at it which will help to strengthen her fingers and develop the skill need to grasp objects.
Label the different clothing items so these words become part of your child’s vocabulary. Pull a shirt from the basket and tell them what it is. You can also label clothing by who they belong to. You may be surprised how quickly they associate clothing items with people. Your little one may recognize your favorite fuzzy sweater and associate it with you by saying “mama” when you take it out of the basket.
Receptive language is how your child understands words and follows directions. This life long skill is easy to work on with the help of a basket full of clothes. Simply ask your child to “Find the___.” Not only are you working on following directions by doing this but problem solving skills are also being applied as well as they sift through the basket of clothes.
For older toddlers you can start to introduce matching with socks. Show them one sock and have them help you find the other one. Taking two socks out and talking about how some of them look the same and some them look different will give them another preacademic skill to put in their pocket.
The laundry basket is the perfect height for little ones to grab onto when they are learning to stand. You can facilitate this by giving them a little support and making sure to hold the basket down or put something heavy enough in it so that it won’t flip when they are holding on to it. Having them stand next to the basket it allows them some practice balance and weight-bearing. As they get older and are learning to walk they can start to push the basket. Once again, you may need to help guide the basket so that it does not flip. Eventually they will get to the point where they can push it on their on and help you deliver the clothing to the appropriate rooms in the house.
After giving them ample time to watch you, let them join in the fun! Encourage your toddler to imitate what you are doing. They may not be able to fold in perfect piles but learning to imitate is one of the most important skills a child can gain as it leads to word imitation…which than leads to those first words! Get creative with this one: If your folding towels give them a washcloth and let them wipe down the house (this is one of my little guys favorite things to do).
By including your baby is this daily routine you are giving them the opportunity to learn some new skills and practice them frequently. Laundry becomes more enjoyable too as you play with your little one instead of trying to keep them out of the clothes. Who knows…maybe your little helper will still love folding clothes once they are teenagers! (We can always hope right?)
What daily routines do you utilize to teach your little one? I would love to hear about them so feel free to comment below.