One of the many skills that your baby will develop over a period of time will be the ability to play independently, and while the skill will come into its own as they grow, it’s a great one for them to learn as early as possible.
Despite thinking that they need your unwavering attention at all times, babies are often more than content with their own company for a lot of their awake time. Parents shouldn’t feel like their baby will become bored if they don’t spend all of their time with them, because they won’t. Learning how to stay occupied without the need for company is an essential skill to learn and by letting them get on with things alone sometimes, from a young age, you are preparing them for things to come.
If you don’t play together all the time, baby will more often than not appreciate their time with you more. Rather than trying to engage with them all the time, if they become restless or grouchy because of your attempts to play, follow their lead and leave them be.
As your child gets older, they may ask you to play with them more often but, despite the intrinsic need to cater to their whims, parents should encourage them to play alone sometimes as well. Providing them with toys that can encourage independent play, creativity and imagination, are essential to keep them busy. Toys such as the brilliant Fisher Price Imaginext Castle that’s been seen on TV recently, with plenty of figures to pretend with, or dressing up clothes and a tea set, can help them to understand that playing alone isn’t a bad thing.
Of course, playing alone doesn’t mean having to abandon them all together. Supervision is obviously needed too, but use that time to observe them, rather than join in with them. Being able to entertain themselves is a key lesson for them to grasp and the sooner they pick up the skill, the better.
Solo playtime helps children to become well-rounded and independent and while it’s obviously advantageous for them to mix with other children and adults to build their communication and social skills, playing on their own will bring out imagination that you didn’t even know existed.
Knowing that they don’t have to be around someone all the time to be happy is essential and, while a lot of the time you will be more than happy to play with them, if they do decide to play by themselves, make the most out of the free time by putting your feet up with a cup of tea!