By Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Parents often feel they must occupy their 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 your baby will be more cheerful overall if you don’t play together 100 per cent of the time. If your child needs downtime, she may turn away, get restless, or cry. Tune in to the 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 your child to develop self-entertainment skills. Engage them in a favourite activity. Play for a few minutes, then step back to observe. Once your 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 your baby within your sight.) When your child first realises you’re gone, they 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 your child’s creativity.
While learning through play is your baby’s “work,” for you it can be one of the very best perks of parenting.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only.
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