Experts agree it is important for babies and toddlers to have time by themselves – solo time. Interaction with adults and peers is vital; however, it is just as important that your baby and/or toddler learn how to spend time by themselves. Some of the benefits of solo time include:
Children usually see themselves as a separate individual for the first time at around 8 months of age. Independent play helps a child become a friend to him and helps him to feel comfortable around other children.
A baby content to play solo is a great asset for parents as well. While your child is entertaining himself, mom or dad is free to do a chore, make phone calls, or just relax. Introducing your child to solo play is not just a matter of placing him in a room by himself and leaving him there.
Before you introduce your child to solo play, here are a few things you need to consider:
To begin solo play:
If your baby is under one year old, do not leave him alone completely. Instead, sit a few feet away and offer words of encouragement every few minutes to help give your baby a sense of security. As your baby gets older, go to the other side of the room or leave the room entirely for short periods of time. Be sure to stay near enough to hear inside the room where baby is. Peek in regularly to ensure baby’s safety. Before you leave the room, talk to baby a little about what he is doing before you leave, and after you have peeked in on him.
Some children will stop playing as soon as you do. If this happens, try playing with him for a few seconds, then walk away for a few seconds. Return to play. Keep up this routine for a few days so your child understands when you leave, he can expect you to return shortly. Over time children become more interested in their toys than in your comings and goings.
If your baby cries the moment you are out of sight, try letting him initiate solo time. If he crawls into a nearby room, wait a minute or two before you follow him. If you need to leave baby for a few minutes, tell him you’re going and reassure him with your voice when he fusses rather than rushing back to him. It may take some time, but eventually your baby will learn being alone is not so scary.
It is not always the child who resists solo play. Sometimes it is mom or dad, who has received so much information about stimulating their children. If they are not stimulating some kind of activity every spare minute of the day they think they are doing something wrong and feel guilty.
The importance of quality time for parents and children cannot be overemphasized; however, parents should not take this concept to the extreme. It may be difficult to sit and watch your baby play alone. You just need to remind yourself that it is a necessary, positive learning experience for your child.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use the information in this article to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child’s condition.
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Written by: Connie Limon. Visit us at http://www.babiesandtoddlers1.com About Babies and Toddlers is a collection of articles all about babies and toddlers available for information, education and FREE reprints to your newsletters, websites or blogs.