Independent Playtime: Why Your Baby Needs It and How to Start
For new parents, the concept of independent play may seem far off, but its benefits can be enjoyed early, which is why I’m here today. I want to show you not only how to start building independent playtime for your little one, but also how to help it grow along with them.
Research has shown that playtime has an important role in a child’s development. With young children, parents tend to mistake it as something to just occupy their time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Play is one of the three key components of a baby’s day: feed-wake-sleep. What your child does during waketime can help lay the proper foundation for future success.
Why Your Infant Needs Independent Play Time
When you play with your baby, you’re not only building a bond with your little one, but you’re also creating a secure environment for exploration and discovery. However, from an early age, children can start to play by themselves for short periods of time to learn valuable skills and investigate their world without distractions. Benefits of early-age independent play include:
- An atmosphere without over-stimulation
- Healthy growth through social stages
- Preparing kids for future quiet time
- Provides structured environments for independent exploration
By allowing independent playtime, you’ll be giving your little one opportunities to develop essential life skills while also giving yourself a chance to breathe and finish some chores around the house.
How to Get Started With Independent Play
Independent playtime will most likely begin when your baby is around three to five months old. At that age, babies generally can manipulate a toy on their own. Still, children of all ages can be taught to play quietly on their own. For your child’s independent playtime to be a success, make sure your baby is fed, rested and has had ample time with you before starting. Be close at first and stick to just a few developmentally appropriate toys. Start with just a few minutes of alone time and then gradually extend the time. Great toys for independent play include:
Baby Gym Mat
You can start your infant independent playtime on a baby gym mat. If you are wondering if are activity gyms good for babies, this toy will not only keep your baby entertained but will also encourage their development. Infant’s actions are dominated by reflexes, which means they automatically react in a certain way when stimulated without having much control over their actions. A baby gym mat will help strengthen grasping and reaching reflexes by encouraging infants to grasp rattles or rings. As young children learn to hold objects, they also develop a visual understanding of what they are holding, which in turn can help them develop an understanding of cause and effect as they wiggle and shake toys.
You’ll find a range of baby floor gym models in a variety of different shapes, sizes, colours and textures. Many models come with bars overhead and may include lights, sounds or hanging toys for the baby to enjoy. You may want to avoid these models especially because you’re interested in toys that entertain rather than engage. A baby floor gym made with solid natural wood and featuring a few hanging toys will be enough to entertain your baby. Then, when your child loses interest in these toys, you can easily swap them out and add other things that they can reach for and interact with. These should be things that your baby can grab, kick, chew, bat or hold – they can be as simple as a bell, a rattle, or a ring. You can use toys you already have tied on a piece of elastic.
Baby mats are great for tummy time as well. Tummy time is recommended for newborn babies to prevent developing a flat head and for the development of their neck and shoulder muscles. Strengthening the neck and shoulders would allow your baby to crawl when they grow older, which is considered one of the most important developmental milestones.
As your toddler becomes able to seat, you may want to introduce him/her to building blocks. A great toy for kids at any age, building blocks are particularly challenge and enjoyable for toddlers and preschoolers who eager to learn about their environment. Building blocks may seem like the most common type of toys, but they’re anything but boring. And while the joy of stacking and constructing are clearly seen, your little one also learns a lot. Benefits of playing with building blocks include developed motor skills as well as problem-solving capabilities. Aside from being beneficial for your children’s development, building blocks also help with mental, physical and social growth.
Puzzles are not only fun to play with, they are also an important educational learning tool for toddlers and young children as they provide many skills and cognitive benefits and opportunities. Available in a whole range of themes and topics, such as alphabet letters, shapes, numbers, vegetables, pets, transport and colours, the right puzzle can help increase a child’s visual-spatial awareness and develops a deeper understanding of these themes and topics. All children learn differently and puzzles can be their or learning certain themes, such as alphabet letters.