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Fostering Independence in Your Baby

Fostering Independence in Your Baby

The last thing you may want to do once you lay eyes on your little one is put him down, but believe it or not, fostering some independence is actually good for you and your baby. I’m not talking about putting them down in another room and leaving them for hours on end, but you can help them learn to be happy on their own while you keep a close eye on them.

One of the best ways to start fostering independence is to help them learn to play on their own. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to fostering independence in your baby, take a look:

  • Safety
  • Baby’s personality
  • Length of time
  • Activities

Let’s take a better look at these things so you can get up and running with some baby independence in no time.

Safety

The first and probably most important factor to consider when it comes to fostering independence in your baby is safety. You won’t be able to enjoy the independence if you’re constantly worried about your little one getting hurt. The best way to avoid this worry is to make sure you’ve created a safe environment.

The type of environment you’ll put your little one in depends on their age and, really, how much you trust them. A baby that isn’t walking or crawling can most likely be set up to play independently on a blanket. Once your little one is crawling, you might be more comfortable setting them up in a pack-and-play where you’ll know they’re safe. Once they’re walking but old enough to be slightly trustworthy, you can put them in their room with a baby gate set up across the door.

If you set them in their room, make sure you have the outlets covered and nothing heavy that they might pull over.

Baby’s Personality

In addition to considering safety when it comes to fostering independence in your baby, you’ll also need to think about your baby’s personality. This will help you narrow down the best environment for your little one’s foray into independence.

A baby that is super attached to mama will do better in a location where they can still see and hear you, at least at first. If your baby is fairly comfortable on their own already, you might be able to set up a safe environment in another room without them getting too upset.

Your baby might surprise you so plan to be flexible and adjust as needed. There’s no perfect recipe for fostering this independent time with your baby. It all depends on your little one and what works best for your family.

Length of Time

It’s important to remember to take baby steps when you’re figuring out how long you can leave your little one when you’re fostering independence. Your best bet is to start small and adjust according to your baby’s signals. Regardless of your little one’s age, you may want to start by having them play alone for just five minutes. If that goes great the first day, add five more minutes the next day. If it goes poorly, don’t be afraid to just keep working on getting five minutes of happy, independent playing.

As your little one gets older, you can work up to an hour of hanging out independently. If you’re feeling bad about leaving your little one to hang out by themselves, remember independence actually fosters confidence in kids. It helps them to develop good self-esteem and be able to find things to do on their own.

Activities

Now that you have a plan, you may be wondering what exactly your baby should be doing during this time of fostering independence. Since you want to set them up for success when it comes to enjoying their independence, you’ll want to include toys and activities that you know they enjoy.

Younger babies may enjoy stacking toys, rattles, or other toys that have lights and noise. You might want to include sorting toys for older babies, and baby dolls or interactive toys for toddlers. You’ll know what your little one likes best, so make it interesting for them. It’s also a good idea to include some board books for flipping through. It’s never too early to encourage some “reading.”

To keep it interesting, you’ll want to rotate the toys they’re playing with every few weeks so they don’t get bored. Another way to keep it enjoyable is to put on some fun music when it’s time for them to practice their independence.

A few other tips to keep in mind to ensure your little one’s newfound independence goes well is to make sure they’re not hungry or tired. We all know there’s no way to make a hungry or tired little one happy without food or rest!

Once they’re happily independent, make good use of your time. Get things done around the house, chat with a friend, or just relax. Parenting can be exhausting and it’s important to make time for you.

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