I’ve found that W’s favorite “toys” around our house are in my kitchen. And they’re called bowls, pots, pans, wooden spoons, and Tupperware. From ages 9-18 months, he preferred my kitchen utensils to anything sold at Toys ‘R’ Us. We are definitely in the pretend play stage.
I imagine it has something to do with W being at home with me all day and wanting to emulate what I’m doing. “They” say toddlers imitate as a way to bond with their parents, and it’s also a chance for them to show off skills they’ve been carefully observing. W would stir in his pretend spices and add his blocks as ‘ingredients’ while I was also cooking.
At a certain point he found it absolutely hilarious to pretend to cook himself. He was always stepping his grubby little baby feet in my Dutch oven, which left me with extra dishes. (And belly laughs: it was pretty damn cute.)
What is Pretend Play?
Any time a child pretends, it’s called imaginative or pretend play. What to Expect says to expect this at 18-24 months, but I saw W doing it earlier. I’m sure most kids do, especially when they’re pretending to do the things mommy and daddy do, in this case, cooking. Pretend play is a sign of greater cognitive understanding. After all, pretending that a block is really an ingredient means your child grasps the idea of symbols (in this case, a block stands in for food).
Comprehending symbols is crucial for language learning. When we talk, we make sounds and those specific sounds stand for something in real life. If English speakers hear the sounds k-a-t, they think of a furry friend. If your child can imagine while they play, they’ve got the foundation of symbolic thinking to use language.
Ah, the human brain. These little from scratch creatures are fascinating, aren’t they?
Well, back to toys. As nice as it is that destroying my kitchen might be helping W’s socio-emotional and language growth, let’s be real: it’s awesome that he’s occupied. This is particularly important for someone insane enough to cook all of his baby food. This child has spent A LOT of time in the kitchen. I’m grateful he liked it in there.
Q: Did your children like to use household items as toys? What were their favorites?