Mastering The Art Of Playing Alone
The benefits of play
Playtime does much more for babies than simply keep them occupied and content. Consistent playtime also contributes to the emotional, cognitive and physical development of a child. As babies grow, solo play fosters creativity, curiosity and problem solving. As babies turn into toddlers and develop physical skills that include sitting, crawling, standing, walking and running, periods of alone time encourage their independence and confidence to explore and push the limits of their newfound capabilities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents set aside time each day when toddlers can go outside to run free and explore. This provides a nice change of scenery. Plus, wide open spaces are often safer because it's so easy to bump into walls, corners and furniture during inside play. Regardless of the setting, games that involve running, balancing and climbing are great for a baby -- even though they can be hard on Mom's nerves! They are crucial for strengthening your child's body and developing coordination.
Read more about the link between movement and brain development >>
Exercise with caution
Though it's important for babies and toddlers to spend time each day playing alone, it is still crucial that they are supervised. Babies don't inherently understand what is safe or when they are putting themselves at risk. So when you hang back to give kids the space that they need, make sure you are still present to help keep them out of harm's way. Injury prevention should remain your top priority at all times, even though you are giving your baby space to explore.
Also, don't expect your budding toddler to stay occupied for too much time alone. Start small by just making sure that you provide your child with the opportunity for solo play, and don't lose heart if he refuses to take you up on it. Alone time is something that your child will need help feeling comfortable with. Every child is unique, but your baby will likely go through phases where he wants more or less alone time. Typically, the older the child becomes, the longer he is likely to be content to play alone.