Your baby, whilst still being totally reliant on you for food, diaper changes and security, has probably already started fighting for his independence. He wants to know you’re there to keep him safe, but he also wants to enjoy a little bit of freedom now that he’s mobile. He wants his independence, but he’s not quite old enough to handle it. It can be a strange time and it’s all too easy to fall into power struggles with your baby during this phase as you battle against him to keep him safe. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are five easy ways to encourage baby independence:
- Create a safe environment
If your home isn’t set up for a mobile baby, you probably find yourself shouting “No!” quite a lot through the day. This can leave your baby feeling frustrated as he simply wants to have the freedom to explore his environment. Get rid of this problem altogether by creating a safe environment for your baby to explore. Move your breakable ornaments out of his reach, put a baby gate on the stairs and make sure the room is free from hazards. That way, your baby can feel independent as he explores his environment and you can relax knowing he’s safe.
- Don’t lead the play
Your baby probably relies on you for entertainment, and you probably have quite a few games you enjoy playing together. That’s great, but your baby also needs to learn how to make his own fun. Independent play is important for problem solving and the development of essential skills. You can encourage independent play by letting your baby dictate play. Instead of showing him how toys work, let him discover this for himself through trial and error.
- Follow your baby’s lead
Some days your baby will seem hell bent on getting independence, and others he won’t want to be out of your arms even for a second. It’s all part of growing up. There are lots of reasons why your baby might be clingy one moment and daring the next. Don’t try to force your baby to be independent if he wants to stay close to you, he may have a very good reason for needing his mommy today! Follow your baby’s lead, encourage his independence but be there if and when he needs you.
- Avoid problem-solving for him
Your baby is busy developing some expert problem-solving skills. He’s busy learning how to climb over things, how to get hold of the toys he wants and where hidden toys have gone. As a parent, it can be tempting to solve problems for your child. After all, you know you can solve them quicker and easier than he could, why let him struggle? Well, the struggle and frustration is key to learning and good for your baby’s development. If your baby asks for help or becomes upset, you should help out but offering him encouragement is a good place to start. With a little bit of added reassurance, your baby may be able to solve the problem all by himself, and this will help to boost his confidence.
- Encourage strong bonds with other caregivers
If your baby has a good relationship with his grandparents, aunts and close family friends, he may be happy to be left with them. This not only frees you up a bit of time to do some baby-free activities, it also encourages his independence from you. Give it time and let the relationships develop organically, you’ll soon see just how much your baby enjoys the company of the other adults in his life.
What steps are you taking to encourage your baby’s independence?
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.