Magicians, specifically those specializing in children audiences, are common choices as children birthday party entertainers as most often think all children love magic. However, a magician is not actually a good choice for children that are too young, specifically children aged 3 years and below. The reason is because children below the age of 3 have different perceptions of reality and their environment than older children. Reasons that support this fact include:
Very Young Children Have Difficulty Understanding Magic
Generally, children below the age of 3 do not understand magic because they do not understand the laws of physics and follow logical cause & effect sequences. Magic is an intellectual entertainment form and is all about defying the laws of physics and 'bending' logic. Very young children do not have the mental faculty or life experience to follow the concept of a magical effect. As such, magic they see appears to them as a matter-of-fact as opposed to an impossible occurrence.
Very Young Children Have Difficulty Following Elaborate Sequences
Children below the ages of 3 have difficulty following elaborate sequence of events or complicated actions that are supposed to mean something. This is simply because they have not developed the mental faculty needed to understand such activity.
As the nature of magic acts require the audience to follow what is going on in order to understand and appreciate the magic effect, very young children are naturally lost and will not be able to follow the magic.
Very Young Children Have Short Attention Spans
A magic show is typically about 30min - 45min long for a birthday party show. Very young children do not have the attention spans to sit through such a long show especially if they do not understand what is going on.
While reasons have been given against having a magician for a birthday party for very young children, there are, of course, exceptions. There are some very good professional birthday party magicians that can engage and captivate kids of this specified age. These magicians understand the behavior and they know what is wanted. They also have designed their shows to tackle all the points above so that the children's attention will be captured throughout the show. They will often use colorful props, large movements, lots of action, pantomime and perform very direct and easy-to-understand magic effects.
Other magicians who are successful at entertaining children of such young ages are those who are multi dimensional and incorporate many other variety arts into their magic show. This can include featuring large and colourful puppets, balloons, music and/ or dance.
Very young children are engaged by visually stimulating and colourful performances. Bright colored puppets that can "talk" (via ventriloquism) really intrigue the young ones. Even though they are young, they do find it interesting that a "Creature" is making sounds and moves. They probably have a stuffed toy or teddy bear that they hug so seeing a "talking" stuffed toy talk surprises them.
Balloons and balloon animals can be good for very young children AS LONG AS they do not put un-inflated balloons or even parts of the balloon in their mouths. Take note that a bursting balloon may also scare children. However, because balloons are colourful and long balloons can be twisted into interesting shapes, young children are also intrigued by them.
So, the next time you are looking for a magician for a very young child, consider the points in this article and see if the magician you are considering can tailor his show suitably.