Encouraging your child to play independently allows them a bit of “me” time. It’s also a great way for busy moms to efficiently manage household chores and maintain their health potential time to squeeze in a workout. While interacting and playing with your infant is important, you don’t want to be their primary source for entertainment and this can be hard for mom's to accomplish. The following tips will help you encourage your child to take part in independent play, so you can confidently know they are content while attending to other needs.
Start Small for Short Periods of Time
A child’s attention span can be limited, especially early on in their infancy. However, you can prepare them to be independent by encouraging their ability to examine sights and sounds on their own. If you’re looking for a safe location for your baby to sit up and explore, you’ll love the newly designed baby base 2 in 1 booster seat. Whether you’re cooking dinner, paying bills, or catching up on emails, you’ll find this handy piece of baby gear ideal for individualistic adventures.
Start small by putting your baby in the booster seat for a short time period and see how they react. Gradually over a few weeks let them sit in the seat for longer stretches of time. To relieve infant boredom, you can have a host of toys and stuffed animals on standby to keep them occupied while you play catch up. The booster seat is also lightweight, easy to transport from room to room, and dishwasher safe. By enabling your baby to be content while sitting on their own, your days will become much easier.
Encourage Independent Thinking
It’s easy for a new mom to feel guilty for not spending every waking moment with their child. Don't beat yourself up about it though, because according to Edward Christophersen, a clinical psychologist, "You can play and interact with your baby as often as you want. After all, you're her favorite companion. That said, babies need time on their own, too, so they can gradually start to understand that they're independent from you"
You'll want to look for opportunities when you can place your tyke in a comfortable area on a blanket or pad on the floor with some cushy toys that they can easily reach. Leave her there for a little while so she can be alone a bit and explore her environment. She'll start to learn to amuse herself after a short time. After a few weeks, attempt to lengthen the quantity of time to be herself. Be vigilant and read the signals she is putting out--try to head her off at the pass and pick her up right before she starts crying or fussing.
Use Creativity and Imagination
Encouraging independent play throughout their childhood is a great way for a toddler's mind and imagination to form especially as they grow older and are able complete more activities on their own. This imaginative outlet also gives them a chance to explore surroundings individually and learn new ideas. If you are at a loss for what kinds of activities are appropriate and safe for your child to do alone, get creative.
Through touch, smell, taste, and sounds, your child can learn to master the world that surrounds them for a few short bursts every day. For example, with a little ingenuity, you can turn a few small unused boxes and your old jewelry into a fun adventure for your child to sort through treasures while also working on colors and shapes.
Don't forget that infants and toddlers also love to imitate adults. Play laptops, phones, vacuums, and pots and pans give them a chance to participate in the same rituals that you may be doing yourself. If you’re folding clothes, dusting, or writing out a list, ask for them to help you and give them safe tools that can emulate your actions.
Give It Time: You'll Get There
It can take some time for your child to interact independently, and you shouldn’t rush things. You can start slowly and build from there. Your child may also become frustrated and angry without your undivided attention at first. However, once they grasp the fun and excitement of exploring the environment that they live in, they’ll soon become content. A bag of books can be filled with illustrations and materials that can captivate and enlighten them. Board books are great for children to stack, look through, and turn the pages.
Even though you don’t want ever to leave your child completely alone, it is important for them to gain self-confidence and conquer their fears. An infant playard and activity gym can be easily set up also to allow them safe exploration while you keep an eye on them. The surrounding toys can also give them the tools to experiment with noises, lights, and various textures.
While independent play isn’t a method that should be abused, it can provide you with some precious time each day to gather your own thoughts to be a better mom (and that's always, a plus, right?). Providing your infant with the right tools can promote their level of creativity and stimulate their imagination.
Holly Chavez is the author of this article and a multidisciplinary writer who often contributes to health and medical forums. She raised two children who were very vocal about letting her know when they had enough "me time." Be sure to comment if you enjoyed the article and found it helpful.