My sister has a 2-month-old, who enjoys lengthy periods of wakefulness during the day. She has said that she feels guilty if she's not interacting with him, or holding him, while he is awake.

I believe that all people (babies included) should have periods of time during which they self-amuse. Tummy time, activity mat, exersaucer etc. As long as she's in the room with him, there's no reason to be in his face All. The. Time.

What amount (if any) of independence should babies have?

asked 23 Oct '09, 03:13

YMCbuzz's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

I totally agree with you.

(23 Oct '09, 03:26) Mary

Good points, but I know from experience that this is difficult with the first baby. You feel like you should be entertaining them and guilty if you let them be. I think with subsequent children this is easier because you don't have a choice.

(23 Oct '09, 12:01) Tammy ♦♦

Tammy, you just described me with my first child. I felt SO guilty when I wasn't holding and playing with him. Now that I'm on my third, I'm much less worried about it. :)

(26 Oct '09, 02:34) Emily

I don't think there is anything wrong with leaving a baby alone for periods of time while they are awake, but he is still quite young and really not very capable of entertaining himself at that age. I also wonder a little about "lengthy periods of awake time" because at his age his max awake time is about 1-1.5 hours.

If it were me, I'd tell your sister to do what she feels comfortable with, but not to feel guilty if she needs to leave him alone for short periods of time. If she doesn't feel comfortable leaving him laying on his activity mat or in his crib, then don't. Has she considered babywearing? I wore my son a lot when he was that age. I recommend either a Moby Wrap or a Beco.


answered 23 Oct '09, 11:47

Sarah's gravatar image

accept rate: 40%

The "lengthy periods of awake time" are no more than an hour or so at a time. Thanks!

(28 Oct '09, 03:22) YMCbuzz

I found my babies were capable at a young age of indicating what amount of stimulation they were happy with. If the baby is happy lying under a baby gym, or in a bouncy chair watching the world go by, then that's fine. If he is unhappy about it, then babywearing is a very good way of allowing the baby to feel safe and included, without making the caregiver unable to get on with other things.

I have to stop now as my two-year old definitely indicating he wants more attention.


answered 23 Oct '09, 13:19

Meg%20Stephenson's gravatar image

Meg Stephenson
accept rate: 7%

I agree - if the baby is happy, leave him be! :) And if not, babywearing is a wonderful solution.

(26 Oct '09, 02:35) Emily

Whenever I look at my children playing alone (i.e., not together) I am amazed by their imagination and their ability to invent role playing games, enjoying to reproduce everything they saw or experienced before (cooking, taking the subway, shopping, ...).

So I would advocate to let them live their own life as long as they don't need us.


answered 23 Oct '09, 08:20

mouviciel's gravatar image

accept rate: 7%

A really great book that encourages independent time even for infants is Your Self Confident Baby:How to Encourage your Baby's Natural abilities from the Very Start

It has a searchable link on Amazon, so that your sister could check it out a bit to see if it fits for her.

My opinion is that it is healthy to allow baby a bit of time to explore the world on his/her own. Exploring the world together is important, too. As with most things I think it is all about the balance!


answered 23 Oct '09, 20:37

Tanisha's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

I think you're right about this. They need stimuli that aren't their primary caregivers. They're learning about their world and need a variety of things to see and explore.

Also, things like tummy time help muscular coordination.


answered 23 Oct '09, 03:18

bbrown's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

edited 23 Oct '09, 03:29

My initial attempt to answer this grew too long, perhaps I'll have to blog about it soon.

Meanwhile, all I will say is this: yes, I think babies need a bit of quiet alone time in a day, as long as they seem calm. I encouraged it with my second baby and she's a very good sleeper, able to self soothe and also settle herself to sleep alone because she doesn't fret when placed in crib awake. I thnk it's all related, and a few minutes here and there are fine...and probably very good for both mom and babe.

Good luck!


answered 23 Oct '09, 05:14

Jen's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

I too feel guilty for leaving our 4 month old to play by herself at times, but as I work from home and she hardly sleeps at all during the day, often I have no choice.

I try and spend as much time playing, singing and interacting with her, but I'm slowly getting used to leaving her on her own and entertaining herself (of course, I'm still in the same room as her).

It's good for them to be able to explore the limited world around them on their own - talking to their stuffed animals, reaching out for their toys, etc and also encourages independence. Everyone likes their own space at times, even babies!

I've noticed lately that our daughter sometimes gets a little restless when we're carrying her - she arches her back and gets a little grizzly. It's only when we put her down and let her sit on her own does she settle down and seem much happier. I think it's us that's not really ready to let go of cuddles just yet!


answered 23 Oct '09, 22:21

Lin's gravatar image

accept rate: 10%

I think it's perfectly OK to let a baby spend some alone time with their toys and immediate environment. Remember, even when the baby is handling an inanimate object, this is stimulation; the shapes, the colors, the texture, the weight, these are all elements that help the baby understand the world better, every bit as direct stimulation by the parents.


answered 23 Oct '09, 22:01

Yuval's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

Your answer
toggle preview

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Markdown Basics

  • *italic* or _italic_
  • **bold** or __bold__
  • link:[text](http://url.com/ "Title")
  • image?![alt text](/path/img.jpg "Title")
  • numbered list: 1. Foo 2. Bar
  • to add a line break simply add two spaces to where you would like the new line to be.
  • basic HTML tags are also supported



Asked: 23 Oct '09, 03:13

Seen: 12,624 times

Last updated: 24 Oct '09, 15:07