There are a whole host of wonderful benefits that can come from a little “babycino”! In fact, the potential for play and learning for little ones is so great, I thought a full post in its honour was in order!
At home, on a day to day basis, I can barely manage to drink anything seated, let alone still warm. Yet, one of life’s best simple pleasures is a good cuppa, and one of my all time favourite things to do, is to take a little ‘time out’ at a café with my dear little boy. While I enjoy a fruit or herbal tea, B now confidently asks for his own babycino.*
So, I invite you to kick back with a warm cuppa yourself, and enjoy this mini breakdown of the real value of a (<$1) babycino…
1. Sensory exploration
A little babycino tipped out on the table for little fingers and hands to get in amongst is a perfect (edible) sensory medium. B had a ball with a little friend – babycino painting side by side in their high chairs with some homemade frothed milk (Photos taken around 15 mths).
2. Quality bonding time
Stopping by a café together provides a lovely opportunity for mama (or dad, nana, grandad…) to give the young table guest some special attention and conversation. Taking the time for a scene change, being able to enjoy the aromas, take a few deep breaths, and have a laugh can also help to ‘re-set’ a day in need of turning around.
3. Social skills
Getting out into the real world and being included socially at a café provides lots of opportunities for observing, copying and learning through role modelling. Cafés are great natural learning settings. B is always surprising me with his perceptions and imitations. Kids are like sponges – they take it all in! And how nice for kids to join in with a typically ‘grown up’ activity! (Although, in many cultures, (fruit) tea drinking is commonplace from a very young age.)
Likewise, cafés provide a perfect opportunity to practise table etiquette: putting ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ into action, as well as using quiet voices, taking turns, waiting patiently for everyone to finish, (not throwing things!) and so on…
4. Independent living skills
Develop a sense of kiddo pride, as they take responsibility for practising drinking from a cup and feeding with a spoon, cleaning up any spills, washing face/hands…
5. Language development
‘Hot’, ‘cold’, ‘spoon’, ‘cup’, ‘plate’, ‘stir’, ‘handle’, ‘teapot’, ‘milk’, ‘froth’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘cheers’…
There are so many words to learn, and there is so much conversation to be had over a cuppa – including ordering the actual drink independently! One of our favourite cafés has a large blackboard on one wall (how fun!) and an enormous window overlooking a busy road full of ‘things that go’ and the train station – SO much to talk about!
6. It’s healthy
What a great opportunity to develop a taste for a healthy drink! A little milk dressed up in a fancy cup with saucer and spoon is treat enough – no need to add sugar or (sugary) marshmallows!
7. Hand skill development
Grasping, crossing midline, bilateral coordination, upper limb strength and control, eye-hand coordination… I may add – the potential is particularly great, if I have ordered a small pot of tea to add into the mix!
8. Safety awareness
Learning to be careful of the hot teapot/cup, blow on the drink to cool it off, and carefully test the first mouthful…
9. Imaginative play
Serving and enjoying a tea/hot drink in a café, exposes kids to a ‘real life’ scenario which they can transfer to so many imaginative play moments. With real, pretend or imaginary objects, tea time can pop up anywhere! – At the park (can’t even tell you how many tan bark or wood chip cuppas I’ve enjoyed!); in the bath (bring on the bubbles and a few plastic cups, saucers, jugs, spoons…); at the kitchen sink (dish wash detergent) or a sensory table (shaving foam) or the toy stove cooker (pure imagination..)
10. ‘Kids in the kitchen’ fun
Making real babycinos can be a super easy and fun activity – whether with a milk frother, blender, whisk, whatever…
So let’s celebrate the humble café as a top kids’ play space!
…Are you or your kids Babycino fans too?
Thanks for visiting Kids’ Play Space!
*According to Wikipedia, Babycino is defined as: A steamer (North America), babycino or babyccino (Commonwealth, excl. NZ) or fluffy (New Zealand) is a drink of frothed milk but no coffee (hence no caffeine), which is available in some coffeehouses. In North America it often has flavored syrup added, while in Commonwealth countries it is primarily marketed to children (as a coffee-free cappuccino, as the name indicates), and sometimes topped with marshmallows, a chocolate flake, or sprinkles.