Your challenge: Those sweet moments of reading to, playing with and learning from your child are the things dreams are made of. But also? Being able to know they are content to stay in one place while you tend to something else for a few minutes is necessary. Whether your little one isn't yet mobile or is a not-so-little one running all around the house, parents need a few tried-and-true ways to keep them entertained and stationary.
The solution: The truth is that promoting independent play time is beneficial for both of you. By promoting autonomy, you are also promoting imagination, problem-solving and creativity in your child. Not to mention the added bonus of being able to unload the dishwasher without your child trying to climb inside. To do this, all you both need is a little practice and a few entertaining tools at your disposal.
Keeping baby amused: From the time they are very little, babies are astute observers of the world around them—meaning they don't actually need too much to stay entertained. A few activity-encouraging playthings, such as a play gym or jumper, can provide growing babies with hours of entertainment. As they advance, you can encourage more playtime discovery (and contentment) through interactive books, blocks and puzzles. And remember, they don't need everything: Studies show children play longer and with more concentration when there are fewer toys.
Encourage independent play: Your baby is irresistible—no denying it. But as much as you would like to spend all day tickling that little belly and playing peekaboo, giving them supervised "alone time" promotes their sense of empowerment. Today? Yes, I can get that toy for myself! Tomorrow? Yes, I should feel confident when asking for that promotion. It may feel like a stretch, but confidence all starts somewhere. Even on the play mat.
Stimulating baby's senses: Babies think of it as play time, but you know just how much learning and developing is going on, too. Crinkly paper, musical toys and various tactile fabrics help give them the foundation to explore the world around them—starting with a safe, secure and stationary spot.
Pro tip: By keeping baby in your sights, but staying out of theirs, you are promoting personal identity, resilience and confidence.
You've got this.
Motherly + Kids 2 provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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