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(Isn't it too big for a baby, what if a baby hits himself, and so on)
A Mother's Report

     After 39 years, we still get these questions.  In 1996 I attended the annual conference of ISIS (International Society for Infant Studies), where our products were on display.  I was reassured that these questions did not come up among those uniquely knowledgeable people.  The consensus was that an absolutely safe lower age limit for a solid toy is about six months. We continue to say five months as a median lower limit, since we have observed a sufficient sample of infants as young as four months - or even younger!  - who were neurologically mature enough to manipulate MY VERY OWN® Rattle safely and with control.

     It was also a central theme at the conference that lay knowledge of the behavior of very young children, and even much of the existing academic literature and working assumptions, contains a good deal of oversight, misinterpretation, and outright error.

     We heard recently of a 5 month old infant who was reasonably skilled at finding her mouth and controlling her hands and arms generally, but who hit herself when grasping a large solid object which projected out of her hand towards her. This is an interesting question about the development of the sense of proprioception, and the age at which it permits an infant to detect with some accuracy the extent of and space occupied by an object placed in the infant's hand.   A cousin of mine did not achieve this level of motor control until the age of 10 months. In 1991, we did a product photo session with 4-month-old twin boys, who both enjoyed playing with the Rattle with no problems.

     The most important thing is the child's level of neuromotor maturity.  If he has good control of his arms and hands, he won't hit himself.  If he does so accidentally, he may be startled, may even cry, but no harm is done, and something will be learned.

     A child who continues to hit himself exhibits self abusive behavior, which occurs only in children who are severely emotionally disturbed, or who have neurological damage or defects.  

    Such children will injure themselves with or without an object in hand, and are almost never seen outside of institutions.  If a baby is not hitting herself with her own hand, she will not do so with an object in her hand, as long as she is old enough to exert control over her hand.

   This is not just a problem for babies.  Let's face it, some people never develop this ability very well. An example at the adult level?  The timid (or accident-prone) driver who is never really sure where his fenders are.

Ed Loewenton, M.S.
President,18th Century Industries, Inc.
May 3, 1996         © 1998 18th Century Industries, Inc.     Please read copyright notice.

     Mary Reinertsen (Colorado) called  on 4/10/98 to ask if we could send  information on any products in addition to  MY VERY OWN® RATTLE:    
     "At 2 months of age, Nathan already could grasp and shake the rattle. He also liked to play with the ribbon. We tied it on tightly with a double knot. I wasn't sure about the age; but I watched him, and he seemed to be O.K. with it.
     "Nathan started getting teeth, and he loves to teethe on the rattle. He's 7 months old now. He passes it back and forth between his hands and watches it. He has developed very good manual dexterity."

We asked: Did he hit himself when he started playing with the Rattle at such a young age?  
     "I don't know. He might have at first, but it didn't seem to be a problem. If he did, then he learned not to! We're very pleased with the rattle. We're definitely a supporter and fan of your company!"   

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