What does your little one really want for Christmas?

What Does Your Little One REALLY Want For Christmas??

“What should I buy for Christmas that they will really like?” Is a question you will probably have asked yourself. It can be so hard to know! And even harder to answer when they are not able to tell you yet!

I love all of the suggestions that you may have read on social media e.g. buy 4 presents – “something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read” and also to buy experiences that you can all enjoy together.

And in this blog, I really want to help you think about what you could gift your wee one that is going to be perfect for their developmental age and stage.

To do this, it can be super helpful to understand the concept of “Schemas of Play”.


What are schemas of Play?

In a nutshell, they are the urges your babies and children have which compel them to play with certain things or do things over and over again
Sometimes, it may look like your children are misbehaving but they are really not!

These are completely natural, uncontrollable urges that your babies and children need to do to help them form connections in their brain and help them to learn about the world and develop their understanding of it.

Over the next week, watch your babies and children carefully when they are playing or interacting with the world around them to see if you can spot any of the following schemas or urges. When you spot them, think about what toys, equipment or experiences you could provide to help them develop these.



The need to hang upside down, see the world from the top of the table or from under it – the need to see the world from all angles is all part of the orientation schema. You and I know how it feels to hang upside down as we have experienced it before and your little one needs to learn this too! Movement is also is also essential for babies and children as they NEED to move in all different positions in order to regulate their bodies and calm down.



This involves learning about how objects are positioned in the world and can involve lining up cars, toys, dolls etc. in a row or arranging toy food into different ways on a plate, sticking stickers in a book (or on the wall!!) etc. – this schema stays alive in us all as we grow into adulthood!



Learning about how objects and materials connect (and disconnect) from each other. Watch your little one connect their trains, stickle bricks and lego together, open and close velcro books or build a sandcastle then destroy it!



This schema is all about learning about movement – How babies and children move and how other things move too! Their need to climb, jump off things, their need to put their hands under water when it’s running, and of course their need to throw things and drop their dinner off their high chair! Over and over again!!



Their urge to climb inside a cardboard box, fill cups with water, put boxes and cubes in and out of each other, hide your keys in the washing basket, this is the enclosure/container schema!



When you see your little one attempting to carry all 10 of their toys in their hands, or in buckets, baskets and jars this is them learning about how they can transport objects. If you can give them something to transport their treasured items which has wheels they will love this even more!



Covering their (and your head!), hiding under jackets, wrapping things up, playing peekaboo – this is all about learning what happens when things disappear then reappear. Peekaboo is such a popular game and to also helps your baby feel safe that you will always reappear.



The fascination with watching things which go round and round (why your baby and toddler loves watching the washing machine!), making things rotate (cars, wheels, balls, wooden reels etc), and moving their own bodies in a circular movement is a fun developmental urge children need to do.

Some children need more vesitbular sensory input than others to help them calm down and this can be achieved by spinning (and also swinging, jumping and hanging upside down too!).



The urge to transform materials from one thing to another – be it holding food in their mouth to see what it turns into (mush!), mixing peas into custard, mixing flour and water to make playdough, mixing paints – every baby and child needs to bring out their inner scientist and chef!


It can be so fascinating watching our babies and children play when we have knowledge of these play schemas.


These schemas don’t happen in a linear way or stop at a certain age. All babies and children are individuals and have a need to undertake these “urges” at different times and our job as parents and carers is to support our children to have fun while exploring them, safely! Next time your child is climbing on the table know that they REALLY can’t help it and perhaps move them to somewhere they can climb safely? (even if its only on you!).

In next week’s blogs I will post a list of fantastic ideas I can suggest of items and experiences you could gift your children this year with these play schemas in mind and I would love to hear your ideas too!


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