I found this article very insightful regarding small children. I clipped out the best part below, but the whole article is a quick read and thoughtful.
...We keep piling on more things for our children to look at, to do and to touch. We teach them early on to distract themselves from the beauty that is around them. It’s our fault; we’re not reading their signals. I’m just as guilty. I put my son in the car; I give him a toy. But we’re missing the point. When children are young, they’re satisfied with what the world has to offer; looking out the window, checking out the other patrons at restaurants, and climbing up the obstacle courses at playgroups. The world itself is enough. Everything is new; everything is awe-inspiring. But we are so quick to give them a toy, a video game, something else that we’ve determined is more interesting. Are we conditioning them to be constantly looking for more? Soon, our kids grow to young adults who need to be doing five things at once. The little things, the things that once held the power of wonder and amusement, are now just a fuzzy background for the next great distraction.
So the next time we're at our playgroup, I think I'll just let my son direct his own discovery. He doesn't need a shaker to "get him through" the obstacle course. The obstacles are going to have to be challenge enough. And I have to say, I think they will be.
Sarahlynne, MEd, is an experienced teacher and a Parenting Guru for Yahoo! Shine.
I have found this so true with little Hensley. I'll lay her on a blanket on the floor in her room with no toys and she talks to her self, rolls over, plays with her hands, and totally enjoys herself. Same if she is downstairs with us. I lay out a quilt on the floor and she plays (sometimes with toys, brother or us). What I love is that we don't have a lot of baby stuff around the house to trip over, like the Exersaucer, baby swing, Bumbo, etc. As a recommendation from her pediatrician, we keep it simple with floor time. For a while I used the play mat, but I put it away and realized that she is just as content without it. That works for now. She'll be crawling soon and who knows what will work then!