Teddy Bear is quickly becoming more mobile, and more curious about his world. A side effect of this is that he is spoiling many of Little Bear’s games. Cries of “NOOOOOOOO!!!!” and “MUMMMMYYYYYYY!” echo through the house for much of the day as Teddy works hard to do everything his older brother does, and his older brother tries to keep his games safe from smaller hands.
Meanwhile, I am trying to find a balance between allowing Teddy Bear the freedom he needs to explore, and protecting the worlds that Little Bear is building. At the same time, the relationship they share also needs protecting. Teddy Bear is so desperate to be like his older brother, and it is so important that Little Bear does not begin to resent his younger brother. So I wracked my brains for something that would be a kind gesture on Little Bear’s part, helping to build the link between them strong. And also something to give to Teddy Bear that would keep him occupied whilst his brother plays, at least temporarily. I hit upon discovery bottles.
You can read more about discovery bottles here and here. They are a tool I found out about whilst Little Bear was a baby, and I made a few for him to explore at the time. The idea is that they give small children and babies a chance to explore things, such as how colours, shapes and different materials interact with each other, in a way that has been made safe for them. Now he is older, he is able to help with the process and create a gift for Teddy. We waited for a good moment, and found one whilst Teddy was sleeping one morning. I explained my idea to Little Bear, and he immediately went hunting for a bottle in the box we have of plastic bits and pieces. He found a nice sized olive oil bottle and its lid. It is often nice to use a bottle with round sides so that it can roll across the floor, mixing its contents up, but this was Little Bear’s project. We then talked about what sorts of shiny things we could use. He came up with sequins and shiny paper…
… and I added twisted shiny pipe cleaners, tinsel strings and foil which I bunched up slightly.
Little Bear posted all these bits and pieces through the neck of the bottle, and then his favourite bit: glitter! We used a funnel, and he shook red, gold and silver glitter into the bottle for that extra shimmer. He was very tempted to shake red, gold and silver glitter all around the room as well, but we managed to keep it mostly in the bottle.
When he was finished, we put on the lid and tested the bottle. Little Bear felt very happy with his gift, and wandered away to play whilst I superglued the lid on. It is important to do this with discovery bottles as they usually contain components that are hazardous to an exploratory baby. A hot glue gun is probably the best choice, but I don’t have one. Many people also tape up the lid as extra security. Check lids and bottles very regularly to ensure they have not worked loose and there are no holes or cracks.
When Teddy Bear woke up, Little Bear was eager to give him his gift. Teddy was very pleased, and waved the bottle around excitedly, peering at the shiny objects inside and stroking the glittery sides with his fingernails.
It works. Or at least gives Little Bear about five minutes reprieve from his brother’s intention to join in. However, I do feel it is helping their relationship. Little Bear now has an object he can direct Teddy to (shove into his hands) when he is getting in the way, and he is gradually learning the art of redirection. He is also keen to make more presents, and has lots of ideas for things we can put in a bottle.
NOTE: Discovery bottles should only be used under adult supervision. Check them daily for holes or cracks, and wipe them regularly. Have fun!