Parents often feel they must occupy baby’s every waking moment or boredom will set in. Not so.
Not only is learning how to play alone an important skill to grasp, but baby will be more cheerful overall if you don’t play together 100 percent of the time.
If your child needs downtime, she may turn away, get restless, or cry. Tune in to baby’s cues. When you respect a wish for independent play (supervised, of course), you show that being alone can be a good thing.
Also, encourage baby to develop self-entertainment skills. Engage baby in a favourite activity.
- Play for a few minutes, then step back to observe. Once baby is comfortable with you being some distance away, walk out of sight for a few minutes. (Of course, make sure the area is carefully baby-proofed, and keep baby within your sight.)
- When your child first realises you’re gone, he may fuss but will probably settle down in a few minutes and become absorbed in the activity or toy.
- Wean yourself from being the driving force of play; you’ll help boost baby’s creativity. While learning through play is baby’s “work,” for you it can be one of the very best perks of parenting.
Here are some toys to help your little one play alone
Fisher-Price Dive Right In™ Activity Mat
This swimming-pool themed play mat will make it look like your newborn is floating in a pool. Your baby will love the bright colours and friendly animals on this activity mat, and its four baby toys to make tummy time even more fun. Engaging with the BPA-free popsicle teether, snorkel mirror, crinkle shark toy and lemonade rattle will help strengthen their core muscles and hand-eye coordination. The Fisher-Price Dive Right In Activity Mat also comes with 12 monthly milestone cards, to record all your baby’s big moments for their first year. Click here for more info.
Fisher-Price Rainforest™ Music & Lights Deluxe Gym
Bring the rainforest to life with music, lights and nature sounds that respond to baby’s movement. During lay & play time, hanging activity toys & motion-activated music encourage teeny-tiny ones to reach, bat & play! Lower the toys or move them to the soft deluxe mat to encourage baby to push up for tummy time fun! Sweet details, including a soft, satiny mat border and large crinkle leaf, offer sensory development as your little one plays. Click here for more info.
By Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education