Many years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a most gracious and inspiring woman whose life's work was in the field of infant development. Magda Gerber was her name and she was one of the creators for the RIE theory of infant care and development. She and Dr. Tom Forrest, M.D. carried a profound belief that an infant knows innately when she or he is ready for each stage in their development. Rooted in respect for the child and Dr. Emmi Pikler's groundbreaking program developed after WWII, the Resource for Infant Educarers philosophy appears to contradict everything modern parents do to create the best environment for their children. Appearances, however can be deceiving. I am not so fortunate to be a parent but I have made it my life's work studying infants, children and people in general and have seen what RIE can do. Words cannot describe the profound autonomy and sense of self a RIE child develops. I can go on and on and on about this but I won't...not today at least.
Today I bring to you an easy-peasy tutorial to create your own textured baby cloths. In a RIE household you may see very little traditional playthings, especially for infants. This does not mean that infants are not allowed toys or manipulatives, it just means there are a great less bells and whistles about. Silk scarves, empty cups and balls often make an appearance. In a RIE household, infants and toddlers are free to explore the world around them when and if they are ready. Keeping a few engaging "toys" as it were within reach without forcing them on your young one is key. Stick with me here and I'll share an easy DIY to create your own texture (sensory) cloths for babies. All you need is a small stack of fabric in various weights and textures and access to a sewing machine. Come along for the ride, won't ya?
*Six pieces of fabric at least 12" X 12" in various textures
*One sheet of 12" X12" scrapbook paper or ruler and blank paper
Gather your scraps up and iron out any wrinkles or creases you might have. I used a heavy canvas, flannel, quilter's cotton, a micro fiber cloth, corduroy and seersucker. You can also use wool felt, terry cloth, velvet, etc. Anything with a nice feel and/or knap to it.
Using a square sheet of scrapbook paper as your pattern, cut six pieces (one in each fabric) 12" X 12" square. You can go as small as 8" if you like but keep them large enough to be engaging.
Pair up your fabrics and prints and pin them together, right sides facing in.
Bring to your sewing machine and stitch all the way around your pinned squares leaving a two inch or so open tunnel of sorts. This serves two purposes. 1) The opening will allow you to turn all that happiness right-side out and 2) the extended "tunnely" bits will tuck nicely back into the form so you can get a clean seam when you close it off.
Trim excess fabric, snip corners off without cutting into the threads and turn right-side out.
You may need to use the eraser end of a pencil or perhaps a chopstick to get your corners happy.
Pop the tunnel channel into the opening and use a hot iron to press seams flat.
Return to your machine and stitch all the way around completely as close to the edge as you can. You can do either a zig-zag or straight stitch, both work here.
Trim threads and admire your handiwork! next time baby is chilling on the floor toss a couple of these dandy textured goodies just out of reach and watch as your wee one engages with their discovery. Knot a corner of one and baby can use it as a teether. Play peek-a-boo, toss in the air, scrunch it up and have fun! There are oodles of ways you and yours can explore a textured baby cloth**
**Stick with flannel and/or terry cloth and you got yourself a happy set of burp cloths as well!