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Learning to play alone
Parents often feel they must occupy baby’s every waking mument or boredom will set in. Not so. Not only is learning how to play alone an important skill to grasp, but baby will be more cheerful overall if you don’t play together 100 percent of the time. If your child needs downtime, she may turn away, get restless, or cry. Tune in to baby’s cues. When you respect a wish for independent play (supervised, of course), you show that being alone can be a good thing.

Also encourage baby to develop self-entertainment skills. Engage baby in a favourite activity. Play for a few minutes, then step back to observe. Once baby is comfortable with you being some distance away, walk out of sight for a few minutes. (Of course, make sure the area is carefully baby-proofed, and keep baby within your sight.) When your child first realises you’re gone, he may fuss but will probably settle down in a few minutes and become absorbed in the activity or toy. Wean yourself from being the driving force of play; you’ll help boost baby’s creativity.

While learning through play is baby’s “work,” for you it can be one of the very best perks of parenting.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education