Rattles and Shakers
Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Rattles are typically among the first toys parents get for their babies. As I was doing a toy rotation for LO, I realized how indispensable rattles and shakers were for us and thought I could share how versatile they are. Apart from her nursery, we have little baskets with a couple of rattles around the home; we even have one in our diaper bag as a go-to-toy during doctor visits or just going on a short drive.
Here’s our favorite rattles and shakers. As you can see, they are made of a variety of textures; some are brightly colored, and the others have a natural look and finish. They produce a variety of sounds, ranging from soft wooden sounds to jingling sounds from metal rattles.
These rattles are not merely a source of entertainment for baby to play with but are important for child’s early sensory and motor skills development.
The senses, being the explorers of the world, open way to knowledge. Our apparatus for educating the senses offers the child a key to guide his explorations of the world…”
~ Maria Montessori
Here’s how we have used the rattles so far to support LO’s developmental needs. I’ve highlighted 1 or 2 favorite rattles for each scenario and don’t mean to imply that only particular rattles need to be used for each activity.
A couple of weeks after LO was born, during her alert windows, we used rattles such as the dumbbell rattle to make a rainbow in space. We held the rattle a few inches within baby’s focusing range and move it gently to form an arc in space. This enhances the visual tracking skills.
The wide range of sounds from the rattles stimulate the auditory senses and facilitate the development. For example, the egg shakers have beans inside which produce a mild and pleasing sound. The rolling bell cylinder rattle on the other hand makes a jingling sound. In fact, not all rattles were an instant hit with LO. Initially, she used to get alarmed to hear the sudden sounds of certain rattles and occasionally cry too. At other times, she found the rattle sounds to be soothing to calm her down. Taking the time to reintroduce rattles that she didn’t find interesting initially helped us big time.
The maracas are simple musical instrument to introduce to babies. We use the maracas and the finger castanets to produce rhythmic sounds while listening to or singing songs. Babies love rhythm and needless to say, music time is always enjoyable with these fun rattles.
Prop during tummy time
Tummy time is certainly not fun for babies, at least in the initial phase. In order to help LO get comfortable with tummy time, we used rattles such as the colorful clutch ball or the elephant rattle by giving it a shake to distract her from the unpleasant feeling of being on her tummy.
Our rattle collection has a wide array of textures – wood, cloth, silicone, plastic Although I prefer natural materials which promote sensorial exploration over anything else, a few plastic toys which were gifted won’t do much damage when their exposure is limited. During the first couple of months, we introduced different textures of rattles to LO by gently dragging a soft rattle down her arms or legs. This helps her to familiarize and understand the differences of various textures.
As LO started to grasp every object that she comes across, we facilitated her need by giving her rattles of different sizes. This aids the development of fine motor skills. One of her favorites is the giraffe rattle which she loves to grasp by the long neck. 😊
Mouthing / Teething
The crochet rattle ring is a perfect size for LO to hold and teeth to her heart’s content. While she mouths every single rattle, she absolutely loves the bendy ball rattle which allows her to hold through the holes and is light enough for her to lift and drop it too.
Cause and effect
As the fine motor skills began to develop, LO started to hold and shake the rattle in air constantly. This helps establish the connections between shaking the rattle and hearing the sound produced, thereby perceiving the cognitive concept of cause and effect. The rolling bell cylinder is perfect for her little hands to grasp and she gets curious to hear the sound whenever she shakes.
As LO is trying to reach for objects that are a little further away from her, we use a variety of rolling rattles such as the bright rattle and roll car to encourage her to scoot.
Once babies start to mouth, it is important to give them safe and clean objects. Cleaning rattles regularly is important; the wooden and plastic ones can be sanitized with a wipe and the plushy / soft ones can be washed.
With fewer but meaningful toys, in this case with just rattles, it can foster the developmental needs of the baby and that’s the beauty of the Montessori materials. They can be reintroduced at different points in time for a different activity while continuing to interest the child.
What activities do you enjoy with rattles and your little one?