Being able to play with one toy for a substantial period of time is a skill. This skill is ‘attention’.
To begin with babies flit their attention rapidly. If something or someone goes past their line of vision they direct their attention to this. They then start to turn to noises. Slowly babies begin to develop the ability to prioritise what it is they focus on (starting with faces). Before I knew it Lexi was sat playing with a toy and it suddenly dawned on me that she had been playing with it far longer than I realised she was able to!
Believe it or not, too many toys can overstimulate a child and make it hard for them to focus on one thing at a time.
I put this to the test by putting out a few toys for Lexi and seeing how long she would play with each toy before moving on. I then cleared the space completely and only offered her one toy. The difference between the two recordings was bigger than I anticipated!
Have a look for yourself.
First here is the clip when I had lots of toys out:
And now compare that to this clip when she only had one toy (you don’t have to watch it all, but just to prove it happened I’m not going to cut the clip) :
When I had put out lots of toys Lexi picked up and explored a toy for a few seconds before moving on. When she did this you could argue that she didn’t learn very much about the object because she didn’t play with it for long. When I offered her just one toy she explored it in soooo many different ways. I’m convinced that in order to help Lexi’s attention and therefore help her learn more about the world around her I need to make sure that she doesn’t always have a room full of toys to ‘occupy’ her.