Infant Toys, or “play objects”: a list of thoughts


“The best toy is 90% child, 10% toy.”–Joan Almon, founder of Alliance for Childhood.

“Passive toys make active babies, active toys make passive babies”–Magda Gerber founder of RIE

“The infant’s hands are the first play object”–Emmi Pikler MD, founder The Pikler Institute

“The first doll should be simple: a cloth with  knots tied for a head and hands” Rudolph Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education

What toys do babies need?

Birth to 4 months:(and beyond)

Connection to their primary caregiver through sensitive care giving– a dance of connection and communication!

A warm environment that is nourishing to the senses

  • physical warmth
  • soul warmth
  • time in nature–bird song, wind, dappled light of trees…
  • singing (real voices, not digital)
  • touch–plenty of time in arms of caregiver–some time on back on firm surface for free movement
  • Let her discover her hands–endless interest here!

A simple square of cloth–a cotton napkin–just on it’s own, or tied as above

starting at 3 months put some more things in piles around where you put the baby down on her back:

Here are a couple things I have in my classes:

links: Pikler ball

natural teething ball

light weight objects a baby can eventually get hold of

Here is a great post by Janet Landsbury on toys: Creative Toys engage babies






Fall 2016 Parent Infant & Toddler Classes Now enrolling



Silver Spring

Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten and Nursery

Parent Infant I -For a parent and infant 6 weeks to creeping- Thursdays 11:30-12:45 Sept. 29-Dec. 8
Parent Infant II- Parent mobile babies and new walkers to 16 months Fridays 11:30-1:00 Sept. 30-Dec.9
Parent Toddler– Parent and Toddler 14 months (w/confident walking)- 2 years 3 months Choose:
  • Thursdays 9-11   OR
  • Fridays   9-11

September 22/23 to December 15/16


Washington Waldorf School

Moon Garden For parent and infant 6 weeks -9 months–Wed. 11:00- 12:15 Starts September 21

Star Garden Parent Toddler for parent and baby/toddler 10 months- 2 years  Starts September 20/21                    Choose:

Tuesday mornings 9:45-11:30 OR

Wednesday mornings 8:45-10:30

About the classes

My Parent Infant and Parent Toddler classes are based on insights about the young child   from Emmi Pikler, Magda Gerber, Rudolf Steiner, and Infant Observation community. I also highly value the individual parent’s ‘parenting intuition’ and work to strengthen that so a parent can make informed parenting choices based on good current research, along with  the observation of THIS child in front of her.

Each class begins with a quiet settling in and observation time. A time to just be, to let our babies and toddlers be, and to observe the unfolding of their natural development.  The environment is calming and nourishing to the senses with developmentally appropriate, natural materials. In this way we can learn about who this child is, and begin to unpack and sort our expectations/projections from the child’s self.  We have a circle time to learn simple songs , baby games and lullabies, and in the toddler classes, there is a snack and outdoor time.

About the teacher (me)

I am a board certified dance/movement therapist, a Waldorf Birth to Three specialist, a RIE® intern, and I have taken  level I and II, and advanced Pikler™ courses in Budapest (2007, 2010, 2016), and continue my Pikler™ studies. The focus of my work is in supporting free, self initiated movement within a secure, warm, consistent relationship. I am currently enrolled in the Infant Observation Seminar at the Washington School of Psychiatry.

RIE® Foundations in DC this June!

With Ruth Anne Hammond -June 20-July 1

Are you having a baby, work in the care giving profession with any age group (babies, the elderly) or just curious about learning more about children ages birth-age 2 and what respectful interactions look like with babies and toddlers? There is an awesome opportunity to participate in a RIE foundations course this summer here in DC. See below for more info. and message me if you’d like to hear more about it. For more info. on RIE, you can check out their website

The course provides an overview of the Educaring® Approach including psycho-motor, fine motor, social- emotional development of the infant, designing the environment, planning the curriculum, and issues in parenting. This course is designed to enhance the skills and competencies of parents and professionals who work in the field of infant care, teach in a college environment, work with parents, or train students in infant care and development. Participants will actively learn about Magda Gerber’s Educaring®

Approach through lectures, videos, discussions, observations, reading and writing. Each student will be mentored according to his or her goals and background.

Cost: $1395

Trainer: Ruth Anne Hammond is a RIE AssociateTM who trained under Magda Gerber and is the author of Respecting Babies: A New Look at Magda Gerber’s RIE Approach (Zero to Three 2009).

About RIE® and the Educaring® Approach:
Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE®) was founded in 1978 by infant specialist and educator Magda Gerber and pediatric neurologist Tom Forrest, M.D. RIE is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of infant care and education around the globe.
Through our approach which honors infants and young children as equal members in relationships, we are dedicated to creating a culture of people who are authentic, resourceful and respectful. Our work is inspired by the natural integrity of infants and the formative power of relationships in their lives. When allowed to unfold in their own way and in their own time, children discover, manifest and inspire the best in themselves and in others. We are profoundly committed to sharing the opportunity to see infants with new eyes.

Laughing at/laughing with

IMG_0330Here is a something I wrote awhile ago, but the topic came up again in one of my Parent Infant classes, so I thought I’d share it again..
I was recently with a group of toddlers and their parents when a couple toddlers had an exchange that was quite ‘cute’  we all chuckled, and the volume of our combined voices really shocked one toddler, who started crying, and the other toddler switched into ‘performance mode’; she started smiling up at all the adult faces with what looked like her ‘picture’ smile.  None of us meant to be so jarring, but there you are, we were.  It made me remember what one of my teachers from the Pikler Institute said last time I saw her: ‘Never laugh at a child.  It is disrespectful’
So I have been pondering this-along with what I know from Waldorf Early childhood education—that joy actually helps young children grow…
So this is where I am with it at this point—I would love to hear your comments!
Yes, we need to take toddlers seriously as they explore and learn about the world, but we don’t need to surround them with somber seriousness…. I have been thinking recently about the idea in Waldorf early childhood education that young children need to be in an atmosphere of joy.  A buoyant environment where adults are not dragged down by the weight of the world, or the seriousness of life.  Warmth and joy (along with a predictable regular rhythm of the day) are life giving and protective, and make children feel safe and free enough to grow and thrive.  So while it is true that we don’t want our little ones to feel like objects, or to need our approval, (extrinsic motivation) we do want to accompany them in the joy of discovery and the joy of life–we can laugh with them.
I keep trying to convey the pleasure every parent and teacher could feel while observing, appreciating and enjoying what the infant is doing. This attitude would change our educational climate from worry to joy. Can anybody argue about the benefits for a child who is appreciated and enjoyed for what she can do and does naturally? …I believe this issue is so basic, so important, that it cannot be overstated.” – Magda Gerber