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Do Babies Need Theatre?

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by Kat May (subscribe)
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Published April 27th 2015
Theatre for babies? It's a unique and trending concept right now. Recently I noticed a for babies only event at the recent State Festival at Castlemaine in Victoria. "Rain" was more an experience than theatre, especially for babies who were to be admitted with one carer to experience an audio visual feast. I wonder if the show was a sellout. More to the point I wonder if babies really need this kind of entertainment. Is it clever marketing to get all ages to be paying for bums on seats?

come out children's festival
Children are amazed at sensual stimulation and this aids in their development. Image by zoografi on

Very young children still in arms and at just arrived at toddler age are surely stimulated by everything they see, touch and smell, and hear. Certainly babies are big business. We spend a fortune on them in western society. There are gadgets and products galore, that are aimed at stimulating and even fast tracking their development. It's called "hothousing" and even more so it is a contentious issue in our modern times. Babies and young children under two years learn from their senses, that is from what they see, hear, touch and taste. But I would say a child of this age would receive ample stimulation and learning living life and being taken on outings such as in the natural environment.

babies theatre
Babies get ample stimulation from being out and about with family. Image by platinum portfolia on

Apparently theatre for the very young started in Europe and the United Kingdom, as far back as 1978. describes the history and the development of theatre for babies. The term even has its own acronym TEY or Theatre for the Young. Theatre for very young babies from 6 months of age needs special consideration to their developmental needs and also their emotional stability. Going to the theatre for anyone should be a pleasurable experience. I would want to know a lot more about a show than the name and who is in it. For example how will the actors interact with the children, and how close will they come, and will there be loud noises for example. Read more about the wikipedia article here.

Festival planners in Adelaide have caught on to this new trend of tiny tot entertainment. In fact they have commissioned a presentation from Queensland's Out of the Box Festival. During the Come Out Children's Festival in May 2015, Adelaide babes will have their own special performance of "Nursery". This happening will have two dancers and a musician who create a special "dance theatre experience for baby." The program continues to say that babies will be invited to investigate the objects, and create play and connection with each other. Well babies suck and play with everything at hand, and some are so wary of strangers they may stay cuddled up to the parent the whole time. One thing babies do love is seeing and interacting with other babies. They find comfort in being around another little person. But do they need to go to the theatre to have this experience. I would say no. There is plenty of community based playgroups and the weekly baby and bounce at the local library, and even a jig around the lounge room with Dad before dinner to stimulate a baby. In the 1970s I used to put on some Elvis hits and my bub and I would rock and roll around the floor together with squeals of delight. And to my surprise she grew up to be a musician, without any special baby productions. No babies don't really need special theatre in my opinion. If you get your baby out and about with the family, to see the environment and animals and interact with other young children, and to play, this is all they need.

theatre for babies
Trending right now: theatre for babies, but is it really necessary? Image by kellierae on

There is always something happening in the Arts world and now babies are the new trend. In Victoria, Queensland and now South Australia shows for babies are being billed as an experience. So this is not a review of an event as such, but more to raising an awareness of what is occurring in the arts and food for thought as to weather it is justified. Slowly new things creep into our society, and where children are concerned we need to keep an open mind but an informed view. Do you accept what is on offer or question the suitability for your child?

Some people with children are of the attitude, well I should be allowed to take my child anywhere. But is this putting the focus on the child's best interests or the parent's perception of rights. For me I would not take a baby to a theatre show. At about 3 years they are more curious and trusting and can think and vocalise their fears and needs. I think this is a good age to introduce a child to the world of theatre. I will let you make that choice for your family.
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I agree that babies gain wonderful stimulation from the outdoors in fact from so many simple everyday things. It is sad though that you don't realize that the Arts is INCREDIBLY important for brain development as well as being enjoyable bond forging experiences for parent and child. What is so wrong with giving babies and their families something beautiful.
Just one of MANY articles stating this is below.
Also you can check out Eric Jensen's work or Ken Robinson's
You are NEVER to young to have artistic experiences and they don't need to be expensive some are even free.
by mlaur (score: 0|2) 1616 days ago
Children's theatre is definitely not 'big business' in the money making sense.
Have a read
by cazza (score: 0|2) 1503 days ago

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