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

Break-Dancing Baby: Self-Expression In Motion

I know, “Break-Dancing Baby” sounds exploitive and contrived to me, too. This isn’t. It’s a genuine example of a baby freely expressing herself — an exuberant celebration of natural gross motor development and creative child-directed play. I’ve never seen a baby do anything quite like this. Hi Janet, My wife Kristin mentioned that you might … Continued

The Therapeutic Power of Play (And 4 Ways To Encourage It)

The most illuminating example of therapeutic play I’ve heard was one that infant expert Magda Gerber shared. She had been asked to visit a child care center, and while touring the infant playroom with the center director she noticed one of the children holding a spoon and placing the tip at the opening of a … Continued

Teaching Babies Language (And Much, Much More) While They Play

If we want our babies to receive all the many, well-documented benefits of self-directed play, Rule #1 is taking care not to interrupt. But that certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be responsive — quite the opposite in fact. Our infants and toddlers, whether playing alone or with peers, appreciate assurances that we are paying attention … Continued

Shhh…Babies Playing (Scenes From a RIE Parenting Class)

I have a reverence for babies at play. Actually, any child at play. Even when my 9-year old builds forts, or creates stories with his soldiers, knights and dragons (sadly, becoming a rare occurrence) my husband and I are careful not to interrupt. So, I had very mixed feelings about filming the 7-10 month old … Continued

Baby, You Are Born To Play

I really didn’t think it would work. At a RIE Conference several years ago a friend and I were presenting a workshop on infant and toddler play and attempted an audacious experiment. We asked another friend to bring her 15 month old daughter to the event, daring to hope that the baby might give a … 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

Infant Play – Great Minds At Work (Captured On Video!)

I’ve observed hundreds of babies over seventeen years and am comfortable that I have some insight into their worlds, but I still feel a little awkward when I describe ‘infant play’ to others.  I sense the person thinking, “Oh yeah, right, infants playing.” But, actually, from the time a baby is weeks, even days old, … Continued

YES Spaces – What They Really Are and Why They Matter


A YES space is a gift to both children and their parents. It offers children ownership of a safe place that encourages play, learning, creativity, agency, and a strong sense of self. Parents get to enjoy one the great pleasures of parenting – observing their infant or toddler as they explore and master the world … Continued