As a new parent, you may feel inundated with information about stimulating your baby’s budding brain with interactive toys, books, things to look at, etc. But just as important as stimulating playtime is quiet time for your baby to reflect and recharge. Learning how to balance the two is something all families can benefit from as you incorporate stimulating playtime and quiet time into your daily life.
It’s OK to Set Baby Down
Babies need stimulation to learn about the outside world, but they don’t need it all the time. They also need time to daydream, observe, and quietly manipulate objects within their reach. Let your baby check out what’s going on around them, so long as you are around to watch them.
When it comes to encouraging stimulation or play-alone time, your role is to have the right timing and tempo by responding to your baby’s cues. Sometimes the cues will be wriggling, vocalizations, or fussing, which tells you “Hey, I need company. Come play with me!” Other cues might tell you, “This is too much for me right now!” such as turning or pushing away or no longer meeting your gaze. When you see these signs, take a break. You know your baby is having fun when they are actively looking at you, squeal, or flap their arms in delight.
You are your child’s first playmate, and your job is to notice when you are needed and when it’s time to play alone.
Routine Has a Role to Play
While new activities are important for your baby’s growth and development, settling into a simple routine with your baby helps create more time for shared fun. It also helps your baby learn what to expect. Choose a daily activity, such as bedtime, bath time, playtime or feeding time, that you would like to build a routine around. Your routine could include interactive playtime where you sing songs to your baby, such as “Wheels on the Bus” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” followed up with quiet, tummy time on the floor where your baby works on their large muscle skills or plays with baby-safe toys that they can “mouth” or grasp.
Routines and rhythm are important because they help babies feel secure and more confident about exploring their world. Routines also foster babies’ brain development by helping children develop concepts of pattern and predictability, as well as ensure that babies and parents engage in activities, like playing and communicating, that promote important connections in babies’ brains.