Independent play has always been an important thing in my house. I am a pretty scheduled Mom and I have time every day where J spends 30 minutes in his pack-n-play playing alone. I’ve been doing this since he was an older infant (starting somewhere around 7 months) for shorter periods of time. I did do independent playtime when we was a newborn as well, but I placed him on a blanket instead. You don’t have to be as structured with it as I am and you don’t have to use a pack-n-play like I do, but giving your child some independent time to play is important.
- It helps with problem solving skills, concentration, and creativity
- Gives children space to figure things out without adult interaction. For example: J learned how to go from lying to sitting by himself while he was in his pack-n-play. I wasn’t there to help him and he just “got it” with out intervention.
- Great for self-esteem through the ability to problem solve on their own.
- Gives time for make-believe play which enhances all sorts of skills.
- Also helps with separation anxiety.
Independent play time allows for me to have extra time to get some of my stuff done as well. I use that time to blog, clean, make phone calls, etc. I used to feel guilty about this, but it’s gotten better since I noticed all the great things that have come out of doing independent play.
J stacked up all his toys in the corner during independent play. See the problem solving and creativity it took to do this?
Here’s how I do independent playtime, but there are lots of other ways of doing it.
- You can do it in a pack-n-play, their room, or in any safe room.
- Pick 5-10 toys that are age appropriate and interesting. I always include books, a favorite toy, and a puzzle in my toy selection.
- Rotate the toys on a regular basis. I usually do it once a week.
- Pick a time that’s good for you and your child. Don’t do it when they are tired or hungry. I do it at 8:30 am and 5:00 pm.
- I set a timer so that he knows when independent playtime is over.
- I play music because he loves music!
Activity #30: Hide and Seek
There are tons and tons of ways to play hide and seek. Today, I want you to pick one and ask your children to play along. Here are some great hide-and-seek ideas. Pick one that’s good for your child’s age.
Infants: Babies don’t understand that objects don’t disappear when covered until 8-9 months of age, so it’s a thrill for young infants to see an object re-appear! This is called object permanence.
- Cover a toy with a blanket and pull it off.
- Cover your baby with a blanket and pull it off.
- Play peek-a-boo
- Cover your face with a blanket and pull it off.
- Cover objects with a blanket and let them pull it off.
- Hide a toy that makes music and have your child seek out the music to find the toy.
- Play the classic game of hide and seek where friends hide and someone seeks them out
- Have them seek out to find different objects around the room (all the blue toys, all the cars, Easter eggs!)
J at 14 months playing peek-a-boo with his Daddy’s picture.
Tomorrow: Wrap up and last activity