It’s said that babies explore new places, new experiences, new people, with their hands. Taking in their surroundings through touching, scratching, pinching, grabbing — and tasting if you’re my teething 6 month old. I spend most of my day pulling things out of his mouth and saying things like “no, that’s dirty – don’t bite on that – don’t lick the doggie back.” So I was a bit nervous at first when I was assigned to take a Baby Tour at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
“I’m going to bring a 6 month old baby to a place where etiquette suggests there be no noise above a whisper. A place where there’s a guard in each room to ensure visitors don’t get too close to the exhibits,” I thought. I envisioned arriving with my not-so-quiet little guy and all his not-so-easy-to-carry gear and being politely asked to leave after James slapped a slobbery hand onto a painting and let out one of his ear-shattering squeals.
Tour day came and just like how I had pictured it, I packed up everything we’d need to prevent a milk meltdown or a diaper disaster and headed over to the Cincinnati Art Museum with Grandma in tow, just in case I needed backup. We huddled over in the corner with a few other babies for a few minutes before our Museum Guide greeted us.
Each baby tour focuses on different aspects of development and exploration; December’s tour was designed to help the tiny tourists discover new textures. We started by wandering through the main hallway, gazing at silver sculptures and large paintings with new faces that seemed to stare back at the little eyes that were studying them.
We moved through the main hallway into separate small galleries where each baby was given a different object to touch and then was shown that same texture in the surrounding gallery. We
ate played with feathers, chewed on swished paintbrushes, licked touched furs and fabrics, and slobbered on held carved woods while we walked through each exhibit. All of which was much more engaging for a 6 month old than I had expected. He really seemed to be paying attention and taking it all in — he was also taking it all into his mouth of course, but that’s nothing new.
We finished in the galleries and headed into a classroom to wrap up our tour. Our guide handed each baby a ball of gluten-free, baby-safe clay to
eat play with, along with a basket of different textures — bubble wrap, pine cones, plastic toys — to experiment with making imprints in our clay. The rest of the kids seemed to really enjoy how the cool, soft texture felt in their tiny hands, James had less interest in the squishing, and more interest in what the clay tasted like. But that’s how babies learn!
The Cincinnati Art Museum holds a Baby Tour for kids 2 and under on the third Friday of every month. Free admission tickets are required and can be reserved here — tours do fill up quickly, so reserve your spot for the January 20th tour today!
Emily grew up just north of Cincinnati in Hamilton, OH and now lives in Western Hills with her husband Jim, their son James and their lunatic yellow lab, Rosey. Emily graduated from Xavier University (Go Muskies!), and is now a stay at home mom after working in marketing and promotions for local radio and TV stations.
Emily spends most of her free time visiting the manatees (James’ favorite) at the Cincinnati Zoo, shopping at local antique shops, or singing Beatles songs with James who typically just stares at her like she’s crazy. Emily hopes one day he’ll join in but for now she enjoys his giggles. She also enjoys photography and has quickly turned into a Pure Barre addict while trying to melt away the daily milkshakes she consumed while pregnant. So far it’s going well, but Skyline frequently gets in the way.
Emily loves to write and is looking forward to connecting with other Moms in Cincinnati while writing for Cincinnati Parent.