Magazine article Work & Family Life

Interchange: 'Should My 18-Month-Old Learn to Play on Her Own?'

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Interchange: 'Should My 18-Month-Old Learn to Play on Her Own?'

Article excerpt

Should I encourage my 18-month-old daughter to learn to play on her own or spend all the time when I'm with her playing together?

A.B., Baltimore, MD

It's wonderful to spend time every day playing with your toddler. It's also good for your daughter to learn how to amuse herself by playing on her own. This is part of a growth process that will help her develop focus and concentration as well as give her a sense of separate identity from you.

Attention spans vary, but most one-year-olds can play independently for 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch; two-yearolds are able to entertain themselves for as much as 45 minutes, moving on their own from one activity to another. Here are some ideas for ways to encourage solo play:

If your daughter enjoys playing in her crib in the morning or after a nap, as many babies do, wait a little longer before you pick her up.

Give her household items or toys that she can use in different ways such as blocks, plastic balls and rings, nesting cups, pots, pans and boxes. Put out a few at a time rather than giving her too many choices.

Pick a relaxing time (not just before dinner) and make sure her play environment is clean and safe. …

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