Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Starting Play Early: DIY A Crawl Playground

When Ladybug (Baby) Girl was beginning to turn over, I thought it would make it more encouraging if her surroundings were like a crawl playground to explore.

I'm not sure crawl playgrounds do exist - they seem to be missing from baby books.
In yaya-friendly Manila, I didn't even have a lot of choices in baby gates!  I considered baby proofing the way I would see it on the internet, but I couple of thoughts stopped me: I couldn't think of a trashcan solution in the same crawl space; I didn't want to let her crawl on hardwood floors yet rugs are dust magnets in this tropical weather.  I also wanted self-contained area that was easy to clean everyday.

It's laughable how improvised her crawl playground was.  

As you can see in these photos, I just moved things around depending on her developing agility to give her a little challenge but keep her safe.  Here are a few easy-to-find things that I've used:

A floor mattress.  
Borrowed from Lola

She was positively giddy and kicking over this first taste of a new view of the world around her. 
Later I would learn that a "floor bed" is one of the recommendations of the Montessori Method, a beautiful educational method from birth to adulthood which I now borrow many ideas from.

Rubber flooring mats.
I read that having two different crawl surfaces developed muscles better.

Makeshift "safety walls".
I adjusted depending how agile she was getting to be
This ranged from pillows to rubber mats stuck to the wall.  Bed safety rails that we later used on our masters bed during co-sleeping days, to her transition to a higher bed.  As she got stronger, foam ottomans were replaced with low shelves that doubled as toys and books storage for easy reach.  

The bed rails were great for pulling up and walking along:

Also for gigil moments like this

Notice the completely amateur solution to baby-proofing at the end of the rail:

Pillows!  Whatever works!

Play invitations on display with everything at baby-visible height.

Toys, books, flashcards.  Even her mirror and a whiteboard to scribble on.
I found out later that this was another Montessori principle to encourage independence.

So far her space has evolved, perhaps eight times in two years!

Here are some of them:
First stages: beginning to turn over.
(yes, she watched Baby Einstein everyday until that whole theory blew over!)
Beginning to sit up and crawl
Early walker.
We switched to a single mattress for more walking area

Things sort of evolved into this jumbled beginning of playful learning.
A color scheme pretty much goes out the window after gifts and toys and books and art stuff.

Clutter is now my enemy.

More play evolution

It started to look like the more familiar playroom of the internet at two years old:

There used to be cabinet doors on that console - I permanently removed them for toddler access

I would have loved a little more inspiration out there apart from my own imagination.  Only later did I discover Montessori for infants which I'm excited to do for our second child.  Watch this space!

I completely enjoyed the whole process - feeling like a kid creating magical worlds and pretend spaces in my head again.  That's the nice thing about following your instincts and thinking like a child.  I know the next time I do a baby room setup, I'll be more well-read on the Montessori method, but I'll also feel a lot more pressured to follow the standard.

Know what the absolute best part was?

When her playmates would step into her room, into her space -

... and become kids again too!

post signature

Thanks for stopping by our little space.
If you'd like to see how her bedroom and other play spaces at home have evolved see our gallery of DIY play spaces!


  1. So fun and cute! Yeesh your posts make me excited to become a mom... ewww!!! hahaha! Gigil time is the best! I don't fit in those red pants anymore :( :( :(:(

    1. Oh this is definitely fun : like having a living doll!

  2. This post is quite inspiring! Gotta try making our own version of 'crawl playground' for Basille! Thanks, Ton!

  3. I endlessly am waiting on forthcoming to your posts again because I have impressed through your writing.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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