Independent Playtime for Sweet Pea

I didn’t start Independent Playtime with Little Bug until she was over a year old and I am not going to make that mistake with Sweet Pea!

Being that I was so excited to finally have a baby, when Little Bug was a baby, I would move her from room to room with me as I accomplished the things I needed to do in the day. And while there is nothing wrong with that, as a result, I had a 14 month old that could not and would not play independently!

Looking back, I can see now that since Little Bug already has such a social personality, teaching her that she had to be with me every second of the day (which is what I essentially did!) only made me have a toddler that literally could not entertain herself.

And that was when I started Independent Playtime in her room.

On Becoming Babywise II lists several of the benefits to Independent Playtime on page 73:

  • Mental Focusing Skills
  • Sustained Attention Span
  • Creativity
  • Self-Play Adeptness
  • Orderliness

At almost 3 years old, Little Bug now has an hour of “room time” where she plays independently in her room with select toys.

I knew I wanted to start Independent Playtime with Sweet Pea as a young infant.

When she was able to start playing under her floor mat, I started letting her have independent play on there. She was probably 3ish months old when we started this.

I would lay her on the floor mat for about 15-20 minutes and she played until I came back to get her. I placed her in a spot where I could see her but she couldn’t see me because I wanted her to learn that she can play and be happy without Mommy’s constant entertainment!

Sweet Pea is naturally better at entertaining herself than her sister was at this age. I think part of it is because of her easy-going personality and part is because she is the 2nd child. And perhaps part of it is because I have been teaching her essentially since birth to play on her own at certain times.

Babywise has suggested time lengths for independent play:

  • 5-10 minutes once or twice a day as a young newborn
  • 10-20 minutes twice a day for first few months
  • 15-30 minutes twice a day for the independent sitter
  • 30-45 minutes at least once a day for the crawler
  • Up to 60 minutes for the 15-20 month old in playpen or room

My plan was to keep Sweet Pea on the floor mat for Independent Playtime until she was sitting independently. I don’t do this twice a day, like suggested. One 20 minute block of IP time seems to be appropriate for Sweet Pea at this time.

After she was all better from her first cold, I started putting her in the pack n play for Independent Playtime. She does IP after her morning bottle from around 8:30-8:50ish, while I am getting Little Bug dressed and fed.

I do set the timer because I wanted her to learn from the very beginning that it is the timer that makes me return and not her fussing to get out. And, of course, with Sweet Pea, she has not fussed while in IP! One day she did fall over from her sitting position and her talking turned to a fuss and I knew she had probably fallen over. I went in and sat her back up and she continued to play happily until the timer went off.

There is a time for everything: a time to play with Mommy and a time to play independently. Independent Playtime (or room time) helps balance all this out, teaches my girls some useful skills and it gives me a block of time in the morning get some things done.

4 thoughts on “Independent Playtime for Sweet Pea

  1. I’ve never done IP with my kids but I will say that #2 is just naturally better at it. Keaton is a mama’s boy and loves to be around me all the time. Jon is always saying I baby him and I need to cut the cord (so not true). But yet he is better at just going in the playroom and playing by himself. Miller is a social butterfly like Little Bug and still wants to play in the same room as me. I’m sure #3 will be the best of all of them. hehe!

  2. I was never as structured as you with IP….I just came by it naturally because there were things that needed to be done so I would set William up in the play pen or on a blanket with a few toys and then just go about my business….due to the set up of our house…I could keep a good eye on him without ever needed to actually be in the room with him. For Genevieve…she is the 2nd child…poor thing really had no choice but to entertain herself…however…she is just now (at 16months) really playing well for longer periods. As the 2nd child she also got used to being entertained by her brother a little too much. Consequently though….both my kids are great at playing on their own and often seek out a little alone-time in the day. When I think back I probably should have structured it more because then I could have it convenient for me as well…but most importantly is their ability to self entertain…so I am happy with it.

  3. LB has no ability whatsoever to “self entertain”, which is why I HAD to implement this! I can already see SP being able to self entertain herself with a toy on her own. If LB ever did that, I would faint. She (LB) has started self entertaining somewhat (she had to learn some because there are times I am busy with her sister!) but overall, she doesn’t play on her own much at all. She just much prefers to be around people!

  4. that is Miller to a “T”. he has gotten much better with age but he still likes to play by himself…in the same room as me. it drives me crazy sometimes but i realize it’s just his personality. but he has gotten better with age…i promise.

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