Independent Play, Bonding, and Setting Limits


In this episode: Janet responds to two comments from one of her website articles, “Independent Play: 5 Hints to Get the Ball Rolling”. First, a mother’s question about reading and her 13-month-old’s demands for attention when she has other things to do; and then another mom’s critique of Janet’s advice. Both comments bring up helpful … Continued

Independent Play: Five Hints to Get the Ball Rolling

Our obsessive focus on play and all the books, articles and websites on the subject seems a little ironic. Wasn’t exploring, creating, learning and socializing through independent play once the traditional childhood pastime? And now we seem to be struggling to get play back. Where exactly did it go? I guess I’ll save that mystery for … Continued

Encouraging Your Baby’s Independent Play


In this episode: A working mom writes that her 3-month-old is not happy when left on the floor to play by himself. He quickly begins “screaming and crying to be saved,” and the situation is causing problems both at home and at the child’s day care.

7 Myths That Discourage Independent Play

The value of child-directed play is universally recognized and one of the few aspects of child-rearing that experts and thought leaders agree on. Independent play makes for highly productive, happily occupied kids, which in turn makes for happier, calmer parents. And it’s natural — the desire and ability to create play is inborn. So, what … Continued

Solo Engagement – Fostering Your Toddler’s Independent Play

A mom asked this terrific question in response to Independent Infant Play – Make It Happen: Hello Janet, I was reading this and wondering if you have any suggestions for older children who may not have had “independent play” as infants? Unfortunately I was in college for my son’s first 18 months (he’s 3 1/2 … Continued

Independent Infant Play – How It Works

In A Creative Alternative To Baby TV Time I suggest following infant expert Magda Gerber’s advice to develop a baby’s natural ability to play independently.  A recent commenter on the post, Mary Ellen, asked some questions and raised issues I thought worth sharing: i still would like to know what a parent is doing (or not … Continued

Help, My Toddler Can’t Play Without Me!

“The inability to play independently inevitably increases the child’s sense of dependence on the adult. Conversely, independent activity allows him to experience autonomy.”  – Éva Kálló and Györgyi Balog, The Origins of Free Play I often hear from parents concerned about their child’s inability to play alone. They perceive their child as either extra-needy, too … Continued

Play Space Inspiration

Observing our children’s self-directed play helps us to understand them, become more empathetic and attuned, and it is the key to finding more joy in day-to-day parenting. These benefits (and more) are the reason I’ve shared so many play-inspired posts and videos. Most have focused on the parent’s role in nurturing child-directed play and the … Continued

7 Gifts That Encourage Child-Directed Play

In case you haven’t noticed, play is hot. Once taken for granted as a universal childhood right, in the last decades aggressive marketers of early learning products and a focus on standardized testing have horned in on this valuable developmental time in a child’s life. But lately it seems our collective appreciation for child-directed play has … Continued