As a parent, sometimes the overwhelm is so real. Then someone tells you that even young babies need play time too. Sometimes it feels like there is so much to think about. But when it comes to babies, quality time trumps everything else. And one great way of achieving this is through floor time.
Floor time for babies is precisely what the name says: it is an opportunity for babies to spend time on the floor. Studies show that for babies, something as simple as spending some time on the floor every day can have tremendous developmental benefits. Many experts recommend that babies need to spend more time on the floor and less time in strollers, swings, and seats.
What does floor time look like?
Floor time is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is create a safe place on the floor in the nursery, living room, or wherever else you are, place your infant down and let your little one be free.
Freeing your baby during floor time means giving them lots of opportunities to squirm, wiggle, and move exploring their body. This can be done while they are on their back, on their tummy during tummy time, or in a side-lying position.
Through supervised floor time, your baby will be able to move around freely and exercise their muscles, practicing skills that lead to rolling, sitting up, crawling, and eventually, walking. It also allows your little one to explore their surroundings, getting familiar with their senses and sensory information that boosts their brain development.
It is important to mention that as your little one enjoys some floor time, you need to stay somewhere nearby in case they need assistance, cries or looks to you for comfort. You should also switch up their positions every once in a while, to trigger different muscle groups and different senses.
When should you start floor time?
From as early as a few weeks old, you can start introducing your baby to floor time when they are awake and engaged. This is important because babies at this age crave unrestricted time to move and discover their bodies.
When starting out and over the first few weeks, do not have a specific target for how much time your baby should be on the floor during the day. Just start off small with a minute or two at first then slowly build to longer sessions.
The best way to do it is to intentionally offer floor time when all your baby’s other needs have been met. This is called a wants-nothing or a needs-nothing state. Your baby is well-fed, has a fresh nappy, is wide awake and active, does not need a bath, and does not have gas. When they are calm and happy, it is the perfect time to place them on the floor.
What are the benefits of floor time?
Floor time has been shown to help build many skills, including:
- Gross and fine motor skills
Floor time forces your baby to use their big muscles. The more time they spend on the floor, the more they’ll strengthen their muscles. Eventually, they will be able to roll, crawl, and walk sooner.
- Cognitive development and problem-solving skills
When your baby is on the floor, set their favourite toys around them. They will learn how to reach for items and how to move their body to achieve their goals. This leads to basic movements like rolling and crawling.
- It helps build independence
Your baby will become more independent because of floor time. This will allow you to work on something nearby as you watch them, making your life a lot easier.
- It builds self-confidence
When your baby rolls and gets their favourite toy, or when they roll on one side and can roll back, you can see the joy in their eyes and how proud they are of themselves. This is important as it starts to make them believe in themselves. Be sure to offer lots of guidance and encouragement in their attempts!
As your little one enjoys their floor time, remember, they do not have to have all the fun by themselves! Interactive floor time is where you engage with your baby in activities while you lay on the ground and interact with them at their level.
You don’t even have to be physically involved; as long as you are present, it helps build your baby’s independence and makes them feel loved and engaged. As long as you are happy and excited, they will be too!
When all is said and done, one of the best investments you can make for floor time is a high-quality play mat.
Finally, when you are introducing floor time (over the first few weeks), do it in short bursts several times a day. Each floor time session will only last 5 to 10 minutes but do it multiple times a day to allow your little one to get used to independent floor time. Over time, your baby will be able to go for longer before getting fussy. Just take your cues from them and they will let you know when they have had enough.
Article written by Melanie and supplied by Freddy & Co.