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Worried that you’re not doing enough baby play?

The short answer is most likely YES. As parents, it’s time we ditch the guilt when it comes to the amount of playtime spent with our babies, but if you do worry, you’re not alone. A recent survey with Fisher-Price reveals 66% of parents are anxious that they’re not playing enough with children, but luckily the experts disagree. As anthropologist David Lancy said: “Children need surprisingly little interference from adults.”

Even our babies seem to have jam-packed schedules with back-to-back activities and playdates planned, but what they need is a balance between child-led play time and playtime with an adult (and yes, still little to no screen time). MonkiBox hopes to give guidelines about productive ways of playing, but play mustn’t be structured all the time.

A super simple way to strike a good balance is to help your baby start playing independently. This is a skill they won’t fully master until well into toddlerhood, but here are two ways to make it part of your daily play routine.

  • Follow the leader
  • While sitting with your baby and a variety of toys, allow him to choose a toy to play with. If he is scooting or rolling around, make sure he is in a safe space, but give him room to explore. You don’t have to engage with him or the toy, but being present will allow you to join his play if he invites you (this will look something like him handing you a toy or indicating that he wants to play with a particular toy.)

  • Take 10
  • If you feel comfortable that your baby is in a safe space with enough to entertain himself, treat yourself to a cup of coffee for a few minutes. Stay in the same room, keeping a watchful eye on your baby and staying off your phone by being present, but at a distance. 

    The principles of child-led play and observation are closely aligned with Montessori philosophy. Seeing what interests your baby has at a given time will help you be more prepared for purposeful play the next time you plan an activity. But until then, take it slow and show them you are present - that is all they need.

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