At what age can I let my child safely play with lego?
That's a super easy question to answer; it is when your little angelic monster becomes aware that they should not be putting everything into their mouth anymore. Of course, as mums, we know full well this is a stage of development, and a baby's mouth is practically their third hand in learning about the world, but man, oh man, they love to keep us on our toes! I just loved being on constant suicide watch with my fourth son! Loved it.
So if you were just there to get your answer, there it is; there is no specific age to start letting them enjoy lego and getting their fine motor skills working; it's just whenever you decide that your baby won't choke themselves with it. However, if you would like to read on for some stories on how we became experts in all things parents VS lego, keep reading.
I had just had my second son, Eli. My eldest son Noah was almost three and started to ask for lego whenever he would see an advert on TV; we started small. Well big. We got Duplo, the lego starter pack for terrified parents. He absolutely loved it. Fast forward about two years or more. The lego started getting smaller. Smaller pieces that are so tiny you wouldn't even notice if they put them in their mouth for a snack!
This was all a lot of fun but my holy heavens, how that stuff could travel, and it travels all over everything.
Pay attention to this next bit, as I believed it was parenting gold. Turns out... there were better ways.
Noah was almost 6, Eli just a little over 3, and I had a third son, Rocco. Who was just about trying to maneuver himself around the house now. Before the arrival of Rocco, we had already preempted our lego battle with the boys, and the arrival of yet another brother, lego was now only permitted to be played within the bathroom, with the door shut. See, my fear of them choking on it at the ages they were had been replaced with my fear of our second son making some sort of lego treat to feed the baby with! It wasn't enough. They needed to learn the importance of packing it all away. Lord, they would make such a mess. It was like lego cannons had been fired all over the place. Me telling them off or trying to make them understand the dangers of this highly complicated, interlocking brick system (yes, I stole that from the lego movie) fell on ignorant little boy ears.
So I had to enforce some punishment.
I was at my wit's end and exhausted. Here I had three little boys terrorising the upstairs with their lego, which, may I add, did not contain itself to the bathroom like I was hoping. My house is small, and my acceptance of mess is incredibly small. We had to take drastic action. They needed to be scared to leave lego absolutely all over the house! So I decided to make someone else the punisher, someone who would smile and take all the blame and not be able to hear their cries and pleads when lego would be taken away. Bring forth, Henry.
Henry is a vacuum with a loving smile; he regularly drives his owners crazy as he gets stuck against door frames and smiles, or as you drag his heavy a** up and down the stairs sweating and panting with awkward frustration, yet still Henry smiles.
Yes, Henry can fix this! I took the bag out of Henry so that when we applied the punishment, it wasn't actually a punishment for me because I would be losing money if I kept the bag in, and Henry made his journey upstairs.
"Right boys, 5 more minutes until lego is going to be packed away", myself and my sister always allow our children a 5-minute countdown to prepare them for anything, leaving the house, leaving the park, getting their shoes on; tidying up lego!
We find it makes things a lot less stressful when they know at some point that what they are doing is about to change, and children don't tend to react favorably to having a change of plans sprung on them... unless obviously it's a good change like come on let's get ice cream! Then, boom, no countdown is needed for that one.
I'm drifting. 5 minutes pass, and they are asked to pack it away. No one moves. I've gone mute, or they've gone deaf; either way, at this point, I'm just making sound to them.
So hungry Henry, EATS THE LEGO. Only some to start, but he is hungry! Their faces! I've never seen any child pack away legos so fast! "Oh no, you're taking too long! Quick quick, hungry Henrys going to..!" Whoops, there goes some more. I was very impressed with my slightly scary lego punishment, it worked for us, and when they were asleep, I would simply remove Henry's tube and tip the lego into a bowl to be washed and put back in the box.
I felt this was the best way to handle this with my boys; they are highly spirited and lively, a gorgeous foursome, mini men of mischief. Otherwise known as little sods!
My sister has 2 sons, equally as lively and spirited; however, she's never really had the same problem as I when it comes to lego; she actually found a far less mentally damaging way to let her boys play and fall in love with lego all while keeping her sanity, she had the genius idea of using a drawstring bag! Simple and, my holy moly, effective!
The boys totally love it; they keep their legos on it while they play and when play is finished, she simply walks over to it, scoops any pieces that are trying to make a dart back into the play area, pulls the drawstring, and BOOM! Lego bag! No lego on the floor, happy kids, happy mum, not fussing about emptying the bloody hoover! Genius.