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  • Ever Wondered Why Babies Prefer Boxes Over Toys? It's Actually Good For Their Brains

    Your babies are learning a lot just by playing with those empty boxes.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Ever Wondered Why Babies Prefer Boxes Over Toys? It's Actually Good For Their Brains
  • Have you ever opened presents for your babies and noticed that they love the packaging — the boxes that it comes in — more than the actual gift? They’ll grab the wrapping paper and other objects they can get their hands on, put it all inside the box and then dump it all out again. They’ll do this over and over again and leave you wondering why you had to buy an expensive gift in the first place!

    While this action leaves adults baffled, child development experts say the little ones are actually learning as they play with boxes. Not only are they learning about themselves, but they’re also discovering the world around them.

    When your baby learns how to sit up, you’ll notice that they’ll start becoming interested in filling up containers with small items and then dumping the objects out. “When they become a good sitter around 7 to 8 months old, you’ll start seeing them dumping and exploring their environment in different ways,” explains Jana Beriswill, MOTR/L, an occupational therapist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville, to Romper. “This is the key developmental thing with the dumping — it’s part of their cognitive development and beginning to understand that they can affect their environment.”

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    When your child explores and experiments with the objects around him, he’s already using his sensory and physical senses to extend his thinking. This introduces him to new concepts and discoveries, including how objects relate to each other and cause and effect. “What is this box and what can I do with it? Will my hand fit inside? What else can I put inside it? What will happen if I tip the box over?”


    According to Lourdes Bernadette Lopez, CSP-PASP, a certified speech and language pathologist and co-owner of Jumpstart Therapy Center in Batangas, babies learn better not with words but through the sensory experiences that we provide their bodies.

    Sensory play builds nerve connections in the child’s brain, and when all or most of the senses are involved, these nerve connections are created quickly and it strengthens the brain pathways that were already established,” she shares in a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article.

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    Playing with boxes is a form of sensory play, which allows children to accomplish more complex learning tasks like gross and fine motor development, cognitive and language development, as well as social and emotional development.

    And you don’t need to spend much for toys that babies can use for sensory play. Using household items that are safe for little hands encourages them to engage in open-ended play. So if you have an empty tissue box, you can hand them little foam balls or crumpled paper to put inside the container.

    What’s essential is modeling the next steps after dumping, because it’s usually one of the first things kids can do by themselves without help from an adult, explains Beriswill. “If mom is playing, help baby dump, then make a game out of putting things back in. Now we’re dumping the blocks, and now we’re stacking them. Model that next step,” she adds.

    The next time your baby receives a gift and he seems more excited about the box and wrapping paper, just let him satisfy his curiosity. Don’t worry about the mess — he’s developing his brain and isn’t that the best gift you can give him?

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    Want to develop your baby's fine motor skills? Click here for activities you can do!

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