If you're a new mom, teaching your baby to play alone may seem like a long time away. However, the advantages of independent play for babies start at an early age. Here are some techniques for cultivating this type of free-flowing creativity.
1. Establish A Work Time Routine
Establishing a daily "work time" routine for your baby or toddler helps them adjust to playing independently as they transition away from daytime naps. During work time, everyone is doing something on their own. Don't be discouraged if this only lasts a few minutes at first, with time and practice, it will eventually last for longer periods of time.
2. Create A "Yes Space"
A "Yes Space" is a specially designed area of your home that is completely safe for your baby to play and explore independently. When children have a safe, unstructured space to play and explore, their attention spans and self-confidence improve.
3. Limit Choices & Rotate Between Toys
Research shows that when it comes to toys and other physical objects, less is more. It's a good idea to limit the number of toys you place in your baby's play area when you're setting it up. Your child may become overwhelmed if they have too many toys to choose from. The more limited the options, the more likely babies are to play independently for longer periods and build better relationships with others. Put away toys that your baby isn't using and encourage your child to play with the items that interest them.
4. Play Less Intrusively
It's natural for adults to take on leadership roles when playing with their kids. But it's important to follow your baby's lead. Independent play helps babies learn about themselves and gives them the freedom to pursue their own ideas without adult supervision.
5. Encourage Pretend Play
Pretend play teaches babies and toddlers problem solving skills and creative thinking. The more you encourage your baby to play independently, the more likely they are to do so independently.
You may also like 10 Creative Activities & Ideas for Sensory Play. Don't forget to check out our monthly baby and kid's subscription boxes, where you'll discover more open-ended play ideas and fantastic products from women-owned small businesses.