Colander Girl – Simple Objects Are Baby Treasures

Could there be a more educational infant toy than this one? Watch a 9 month old baby (on two different occasions) exploring the wonders and intricacies of a simple kitchen tool we wouldn’t give a second thought to while rinsing pasta or washing grapes.  This is an example of the kind of independent play and experimentation that builds strong minds, long attention spans and encourages a love of learning.

Note the baby’s choice to roll on the floor while she plays with the colander, even though she has attained more “advanced” motor milestones like sitting.  This physical versatility, fluidity of movement and general sense of comfort in one’s skin are apparent in babies who have been allowed unrestricted movement, given lots of floor time, and trusted to move when ready from the back position.

Please share your impressions!

I share more about the benefits of simple objects and self-directed, free play in Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting (now available in Spanish!)

(Filmed during a RIE Parent/Infant Guidance Class in Los Angeles)


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. I love this! One of my little girl’s favorite toys is the steamer basket – she LOVES opening and closing it and taking the little handle out. So much so that it’s now lost, but oh well 🙂

    I’m the “Erin” who wrote to you a few weeks ago about my baby’s verbal development and I can’t thank you enough for your response – it was exactly what I needed to hear to relax!

  2. This just made me love RIE and your class more! Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Ann! I especially like the grunting at the end. 🙂

  3. I loved watching this. My younger daughter, who is almost 11 months old also loves playing with kitchen items – the colander, the whisk, wooden spoons, etc. I’m constantly amazed at how independent she is when she plays. I’m so grateful to have found your site because it has given me a lot of guidance. I especially appreciate the videos. I just wish I had heard about RIE when I had my first daughter, who is almost three and has a lot of difficulty playing by herself.

  4. This is EXCELLENT Janet! I recently spoke on a couple of radio shows about how much learning takes place through simply providing kitchen items.
    Now you have provided this perfect and valuable example!

    You are having a positive influence on developing young brains!
    Thanks as always,

    1. Deborah, thank you for your corroboration. It means a lot!

  5. I love it. It never ceases to amaze me that in a house full of toys my daughter will play with the dogs water bowl all day long. 🙂

  6. Just beautiful! This short clip speaks volumes!

    Toy manufacturers would have us all believe we need to buy toys with every imaginable bell and whistle in order to keep the interest of our babies, and “teach” them the skills they “need” to learn.

    How great to know nothing could be further from the truth!( Also, how lucky am I, that I get to witness babies exploring, discovering,learning, playing, and creating, like this everyday, as a part of my work?)

    1. Lisa, thanks! I feel lucky, too. It is always interesting to note the particular objects and activities each child is uniquely drawn to…you can really see a pattern with some of them. As soon as the child in the video was able to move (a few months previous to this video) she went for the colander, which I usually fill with different types of balls. And one of the many wonderful things about these simple objects is that the children continue to find new and different ways to use them, until they are 2 or 3 or even older.

  7. Uh! this has to be my favorite video of yours. So free and uninhibited. And I am so jealous of your play area. It’s beautiful!

  8. This is fantastic! Regular household items can hold so much joy 😉
    My son Xavier particularly loves the strainer. As he got older I gave him some pipe cleaners and sticking them through the holes can keep him playing for a while ;).

  9. Hello Janet. My question is mildly OT. You shared a video of an infant playing joyfully on his kitchen floor with a pine come a while back. I’m trying to locate it for a friend. I searched YouTube and was hoping to could locate it when you have a moment. She’s trying to figure out what to buy for her 5mo son for Xmas and I suggested pine comes and household items. I just remember how stoked he was with the pine cone.
    Thanks, catelin

  10. Pine cone…not come 🙂

  11. Recently my 18 month old son stopped loving his bath time. I had planned to buy a new bath toy for him during my work lunch break, but then thought better of it. That night I offered him an old colander to play with in the bath. He spent 20 mins in the bath that night, most interested in lifting it out of the water and feeling the resistance as the water emptied out. He did it over and over again. I loved watching his physics lesson! The next night I gave him an egg flipper, that was magic too.
    NB: I dont use these for cooking anymore 😉

  12. My 8 month old daughter loves her collection of wooden salad bowls way more than her “proper” toys. Putting all the needless equipment (Jumperoo, swing hair etc) away to enable her unrestricted floor time was a eureka moment in our house!

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