Let’s Draw a Baby – a drawing activity for older siblings
In creating baby + me, we spent lots of time thinking about activities to help prepare soon-to-be big brothers and sisters for a new baby. Looking at baby + me, you’ll see we value drawing highly, as it can provide a window into a child’s thoughts.
This activity called “Let’s Draw a Baby” is a great big sibling activity – it provides an opportunity to talk about the baby (their physical make-up, their capabilities and needs); it helps develop fine motor skills; and, it’s a great bonding activity (and, if the child develops an interest in drawing, it can be a go-to activity when the new baby arrives).
This blog includes tips for doing (or modifying) the activity to suit you and your child. These tips come from my own experience as a mum and draw on the knowledge and expertise of Debbie Isaac, the consultant paediatric occupational therapist on the baby + me book.
There’s no one-size-fits-all with big siblings – they could be 1 year old or 10 years’ old or more. Boys, girls, indoorsy or outdoorsy types…
It seems young, but children from 1 year of age can be encouraged to hold a crayon or pencil and draw. I’ve just started Miss Gubby (15 months’) with crayons. She’s now spending more time at it and filling the page with more and more colour.
To be completely honest with you though, if I’d read this post six years ago when I was pregnant with our second boy, Dames and had Little Mate (then just a year old), I probably would have found another source of inspiration for big sibling activities! Worse still, I probably would have worried and even felt guilty about the fact that Little Mate thought crayons were for chewing (or throwing) and paper was for scrunching. Little Mate was not really interested in writing, drawing or talking. Outdoor activities, playgrounds and riding on trains were his thing!
But fast forward to now and Little Mate (now age 7) is full of words and fills not only my ears but also any piece of paper he can find around the house with words and drawings. Often he will get home from school and launch straight into a creative project – writing a book, tracing a picture, doing a painting.
Here’s some tips for doing (or modifying) this activity to suit you and your child:
- do it together – drawing is a great activity to share!
- choose crayons or pencils or other writing tools (chalk) that suit your child. There are a wide range of writing tools available that have been specifically designed for children – for smaller hands, for those who are just learning to use a pencil grip or for those just starting out. Here are a few options. These ones are available at one of our fantastic baby + me stockists – Windmill Educational Toys and Equipment (see www.windmill.net.au for more details):
- try modifying the drawing activity to suit the child’s capability and interest level. Here are some baby pictures of varying complexity to give you some ideas:
- if your child is just starting to draw, take the lead and draw the outline of the baby, and ask the child to colour (scribble!) it in or add some features (eg eyes, nose, fingers). This is also a great strategy if your child says “I’m finished” but the drawing is missing some important features. You can prompt your child in a less confronting way with questions such as “does the baby have any hair?” and “what is baby wearing?”
- even if your child is older and more capable, a blank page can give a child “stage fright”, so consider starting the drawing off yourself. For that reason, the baby + me book does not have any completely blank pages in it! Even my Dames, who has loved drawing since he was very young, has got stuck starting a drawing from scratch!
- try foot prints or hand prints as a starting point for a baby picture. These are always popular with the little-ones and, even if they are not holding the pencil or crayon, they feel involved in making the picture by having their hand traced around!
- consider using a different medium for drawing – a more sensory experience like drawing in flour on your kitchen bench or in the sandpit may have appeal
- add a date to all the drawings – they could be a nice keepsake and help you track how the child’s drawing develops over time
- and finally, try not to put pressure on your child (or yourself!) – drawing should be fun for both adult and child. You can always come back to it another day!
We’d love you to try “Let’s Draw a Baby”. Please tell us how you and your child go (pictures too please)!
Good luck and happy drawing!