The Ongoing Mouth Feel Experiment

Babies are experimental scientists. This is the theory a friend of ours has. Let’s test this theory shall we?

One thing about being a baby – everything is new and odd and to be explored. Initially this means learning how to breathe, and slowly how to use one’s limbs and face. And then things that us adults take for granted, like gravity.

Pip’s favourite ongoing experiment is what I call the ongoing mouth feel experiment. You’ve all seen babies performing this one, the method is simple – if I can grab it, it goes in my mouth! Toys, adults fingers, rocks, grass, dust bunnies, everything. I tried it out with one of Pip’s bath toys, a small plastic purple octopus. And you know what, it was really interesting! This little toy had lots of fun lumpy surfaces which I could feel on my tongue, and I could squeeze it with my mouth in a delightful way. Try it for yourself, although I couldn’t persuade D to have a turn.

The other experiment common to Pip and all babies is the “Does Gravity Work?” experiment. This again has a very simple methodology. All you need is an object in your hand – food, toy, water bottle, anything. Then, sitting in a sufficiently high place, a high chair is ideal, drop the object and observe what happens. Repeat the experiment as often as possible, although this will be limited by the parameter called “parental patience”. And repeat it with different objects on different days – does gravity affect this cup? Does gravity work on a Tuesday? What about at Grandpa’s place? The variations are endless!

I’d like to play a little trick on Pip one day, attach a fine thread to something he likes to drop, and then have him look in wonder as it floats in mid-air! I imagine this would trigger another extensive round of experimentation.

Other experiments Pip conducts: The head shaking experiment. The protocol is simple, shake one’s head like you’re saying “no”. This makes the world look all jittery and interesting.

The “what are these things on the end of my legs?” experiment. Feet, you know, they’re strange and curious and must be studied.

And then of course there’s the “What’s this thing in my groin region that feels so good to play with?” Boys stop conducting this experiment when they’re about twenty five years old.

So the next time your kid flings something on the floor, or chews mown grass or stares at his toes, think of the little baby as a budding researcher, studying the world.

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