Articles and Topics
How can I encourage independent play for my 9-month-old grandson?
Pamela Toronto
Babies your grandson’s age are curious and are like little private investigators…they leave no stone unturned! And because they are developing their physical skills, such as crawling, standing or cruising, they are always on the move. Everything within their reach is fair game to them, so be sure to baby-proof your grandson’s environment for his safe exploration.

Your grandson probably prefers playing with you, rather than playing independently with his toys, because of the fun and excitement you add to playtime. It could be because of the way you to talk to him or how you encourage and interact with him. Whatever it is, you are very special to him, and he enjoys being with you. Favorite people are so important to babies, especially as they begin to form attachments and develop social-emotional skills. Eventually, toys and other things will begin to interest him. He’ll start to play with toys more independently once he can move around all by himself with more confidence. In the meantime, play with him and one of his toys for a few minutes so he can observe what you do with it. Then, little by little, let him do more of the playing while you do more of the observing. For example, start with stacking toys such as “doughnut” rings, baby blocks or a simple shape-sorter. Before long, your grandson will do more than just imitate how you played with the toy: he will begin to play with it in his own way. The play support and role modeling you provide will help encourage your grandson to play independently. And this playful interaction will help keep you young at heart while deepening the bond between you!
Kathleen Alfano Ph.D. Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price®