In today's post I wanted show you the way I created safe play area for my 8 month old baby girl where she can play safely while I cook, clean, or do any other task that needs to be done at home while she plays. The point of this post is to hopefully give you ideas on how to create your own play area, while giving your baby the space and time to move and explore their world.
The idea of setting up a play area came while I was attending a baby and me class where I learned that allowing babies to move freely on the floor helps them develop their muscles as well as their motor skills, while keeping them safe from falling, climbing onto furniture, or moving to forbidden areas.
This gave me the idea to create my own play area for my baby and I'm happy to tell you it's been a hit! It has given her independence during play time and I have seen her motor skills grow at a much faster rate than ever before.
I first set up the area with letter tiles on the floor and added a comforter on top for extra cushion. Once she started rolling over and crawling I added the baby gates. There are multiple options as far as gates go. Because of the layout of our apartment the baby gates I'm using have worked the best for us.
Some down sides to these specific gates are that they limit the floor space depending on how many gates you purchase. Another thing I didn't like about this specific set is that it doesn't come with an easy to open door (There is an option with a door I found later on here). However after looking through our options I knew that this would be the best purchase for the space we have right now. I am planning to expand the space in the future but for now my daughter is quite content with the amount of space it gives her.
Here are some tips for setting up your own play area & making sure your baby enjoys playing in it.
- Find the space that works for you
- Spend time with your baby in the play area:
- Switch toys out from day to day:
- Keep an eye on your baby:
- Talk to other moms:
I initially wanted Mia's play area to be in her own room. However, I realized that most of our time was spent together in our living room. And though I really wanted to keep our living room free from baby toys and keep our home's aesthetic, I knew that it would give me peace of mind and more freedom to have her play where I could easily see her. And though the play area does take quite some space it is set up in right next to a window which also provides natural light and extra entertainment as she lays and watches the rain pour or the trees sway back and forth with the wind.
Babies love to spend time with their caregivers. So just putting them in any room, no matter how colorful or attractive, or even with a lot of toys will never replace the amount of fun they have with you. So spending time inside the play area with your child is important for them to know this is a safe space for them to play, and not some place they are left to be alone. I try as much as I can, instead of taking my daughter out when she whines, to go in and play with her. To show her a toy or just to give her some cuddles. I want her to know that it's okay to be there when mommy is making lunch, but that if she calls for me I will go in and play with her.
I have learned that my daughter will play with a toy and find it extremely interesting and then she will loose interest fast. For that reason I try to exchange her toys throughout the week. I keep all of her toys in a box in her room and every day I choose two new toys she hasn't played with that week. I then repeat this every day so she is excited to play and explore new toys when she goes in the play area. Keep in mind that you don't have to put all or a lot of toys in at once. Babies can be overstimulated and overwhelmed with too many toys. So I try to only keep 2 or 3 toys per day.
The whole idea of having a play area is to keep your baby safe from swallowing small objects, climbing on heavy furniture and keeping them safe in general. But that doesn't mean that this is a full-proof way to keep them from danger. Without you realizing babies can come across a small object that made its way inside. Or if they are very active they can even find a way to get out of the play area. It happens. Kids are smart and quick and they find ways around these things. So keep your eye on them. Sit close by when you can and watch how they interact in the space. It is helpful to know how they behave when you're not in sight.
The best way to know how to set up your play area is to talk to other moms. Ask other moms how they kept their own babies safe at that age. Moms with older children can give you the best tips on how they managed, and how you can then incorporate what fits your family the best.
Mia and I have loved this area. It is a place where she gets to explore, move around and even lay and "talk" to herself. Obviously like any baby she does get tired of playing there after a certain amount of time, and going out to the park or to visit her grandparents is part of our routine, but for our time at home this has been a great place for both of us to enjoy.
If you have any tips or ideas for me, leave a comment below and let me know what you did to keep your babies safe during this stage.