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How much independent play time is good for 6-month old?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I work part-time from home on my laptop and I try to do most of it during my baby girl's naps, but sometimes I have more work to do, so I put her on the floor to play with her toys and I sit next to her with my laptop and try to get some work done. Sometimes she is fine for a few minutes, other times she watches me or gets upset, like she wants my full attention. I feel bad and I don't want to ignore her, but sometimes I have to finish something. What's the best way to do this? Should I respond to every fuss or does she need to get used to playing more on her own? Of course, I wouldn't let her cry if she's upset and needs me, but how much time should I expect her to be able to play by herself at this age? She is sitting up by herself and rolls everywhere, but doesn't crawl yet.

post #2 of 8

Can you work on the floor next to her?  I understand having to get stuff done, and working at home is a tough thing to juggle with a wee one.


I would try to interact with her while I was finishing up, sit next to her, talk to her, etc.  6 months is a bit young to expect much independent play. And she will get used to playing on her own, but she is still pretty young to expect it regularly.


Good luck! It is a tough thing to juggle these two things.  

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks! Yes, I do work on the floor next to her and try to respond when she needs me. I thought I read somewhere that you should allow your baby some independent time to play so she gets used to doing things on her own, but I wasn't sure at what age or for how long. I guess I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

post #4 of 8

My 6 month old can sometimes hang out totally on his own for 30 minutes, but it has to be timed well (not hungry, not tired, clean diaper).  I've noticed that although he might be fussing when I'm around him (say, if I'm folding laundry in the same room he's playing in), if I leave to go put clothes away or something, when I come back he's happy as a clam and found something to entertain himself with.  It's as if my presence makes him want entertainment, and if I'm gone he "deals with it" and finds ways to entertain himself.  He also rolls but can't crawl yet, and I've made it a point to leave him "alone" for at least 20 minutes once or twice a day since he was very young, which has definitely helped him be more independent!


The RIE philosophy says that if you give your child your undivided attention during mealtimes, diapering, and bathing, your child will be more willing to spend time on his own because his "attention cup" will be full.  I guess it makes sense, but every baby is different... It doesn't hurt to analyze your interactions and see if you can be more present during those times.

post #5 of 8

Some "talk" fussiness is fine, I think. But don't let it escalate to crying. My 6-month old will sometimes talk at me, like he's bored with what he's doing. I'll pass him a new toy, move him to another part of his quilt, or just get down to his level and chat with him for a few minutes. If the talking escalates, then I confirm that LO isn't hungry, uncomfortable, tired, or just in need of some holding. I can get a good 30 minutes out of DS if it's at the right time. Having a really colorful (primary colors) and multiple patterned quilt makes a huge difference. Some of the more muted ones I have are less than interesting for him and it really cuts the time down. Like you, I feel guilty sometimes that I'm not giving him 100% of my attention; but, lately it's been easier to just lie down with him for most of his naps so I'm not getting any me-time. I'm an introvert, so I get overwhelmed if I don't get some independent time myself (even 5 minutes is good!) during the day. Good luck with your LO!

post #6 of 8
Hmm well babies aren't very good at entertaining themselves. I guess the answer to your question would be, "As much as they want." You might have to get creative to get more time. You could put her in a high chair and give her some things to bang around or something. I think it's probably more about coming up with other ideas of how to entertain her than anything else.
post #7 of 8
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

Hmm well babies aren't very good at entertaining themselves. 

I dunno. My baby gets a kick out of wiggling around on his quilt all on his own. Ever just put a baby in front of a mirror and watched? Or watched them look at a fan, or at the light from a window? I think this is a little general, since all babies are different. I certainly never did anything to encourage DS to have "independent play." He just seems to enjoy it!


I think your high chair recommendation is great. I put DS in his high chair while I'm cooking something that seems dangerous for wearing him. He'll bang around with his toys while I talk to him about what I'm doing or play fun music. 

post #8 of 8

i think independent play is super important at six months. it is amazing what LO is entertained by just hanging out on his mat, or under the trees. he loves ceiling fans. can't get enough. he loves our cat, the tags on his play mat, grass, straps of any kind, mirrors, sunlight through trees, the wooden carvings in our coffee table. so much. if he's contently playing by himself i would never feel it necessary to interrupt and provide entertainment. he's exploring, learning and getting so much from that time. that said, i also love playing with him - making faces, tickling, singing, reading books, playing with textures. right now he's cutting four teeth at once, so his independent time has lessened. he is a bit more clingy so i am playing with him more and wearing him a lot. 

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