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Supporting Solo Free Play

Lots of families I have worked with want to know…

What kind of stimulation do babies need from us? 

When is the right time to narrate play or play with a child?

How can I make sure my baby is learning the right things?

Most children, especially infants, get far more stimulation than they need, and we should instead focus on how to make their life less stimulating. As long as they are provided with a good environment and a secure attachment relationship, getting babies to play is easy. It happens on its own. 

Ensure Safety

Every child needs a safe environment to explore, where they can play without worrying about too many limits. You can read my article about setting up a safe play space to get you started. 

Provide Play Objects

The type of toys you offer will vary depending on the age of the child. A newborn does not need toys since their play is focused on learning to move body parts intentionally. A toddler, on the other hand, thrives on a diverse collection of more complicated toys. I have lots of great toy suggestions right over here.

Choose a Peaceful Time

Free play can only happen when your baby’s other needs for food, sleep, cuddling, diapering, etc. are met, so take care of those things first. Those routines take up most of a newborn's time, so play periods can be quite short (5-20 minutes). As children get older and spend more time awake, opportunities for play will naturally increase. Three hours is not uncommon for older toddlers, although they may need to spend a lot of that time outside where they can move their bodies.

Choose a Child-Initiated Position

Put your child down in the play area in a position they can get into and out of themselves, so they will feel free to move. Movement is a huge part of play! For infants, that position is usually on their back.