Most parents have been there. Your baby is sitting quietly with a toy, but the split second you step away from his line of sight, he starts crying. It's tough when your little one won't ever play alone. You have so much that needs to get accomplished throughout the day, and it would really help if you knew how to teach your baby to be independent, even if only for a few minutes at a time.
Babies don't understand time, and have no idea that you will only be gone for 30 seconds to take the laundry out of the dryer. Some parents find that they can only get things done if they have their baby strapped to their chest all day. However, that constant closeness may be what's keeping your child from feeling comfortable alone. Pregnancy and Baby noted that small periods of supervised alone time will give your baby the confidence to become more independent as they grow. It can take time for babies to feel comfortable playing by themselves and it's not uncommon for them to go through phases where they will want more or less alone time. Patience and consistency is key during this time.
Here are some things you can do to help teach your baby to be a little more independent.
1. Give Undivided Attention
What To Expect suggested that parents make sure to give their baby undivided attention several times per day. It's easy to find yourself dividing your attention between your baby and chores, or your baby and your other children. Babies who get undivided Mommy time are more willing to play alone at other times of the day.
2. Make Sure Baby's Needs Are Met
Before your set your baby out to play alone, make sure he is fed, changed, and not sleepy. What To Expect noted that cranky or uncomfortable babies are less likely to play independently.
3. Have A Safe Play Space
You should always make sure that your child has a play area that has been baby-proofed. Parents recommended that you start an activity with your baby, and after he's involved, you can remove yourself from his immediate vicinity. Sit few feet away and offer words of encouragement every few minutes so that your baby feels secure. For example, set up a safe space in the living room where your baby can play while you sit on the couch nearby and fold laundry.
4. Teach Baby How To Play
Remember that babies are not born knowing how to use toys. Spend some time teaching them how to shake a rattle, push a car, roll a ball, or press the buttons on a toy. This way, they won't find themselves confused, frustrated, or bored right away.
5. Practice Solo Play Daily
Make independent play a part of your baby's daily schedule. Claire Lerner, a child-development specialist at Zero To Three, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit, told Parents that you should increase the play time incrementally so your baby gets used to the routine.