Unsupervised play? - Mothering Forums
Life with a Toddler > Unsupervised play?
BabySmurf's Avatar BabySmurf 01:45 PM 07-09-2012

How old was your child when you started to let them play unsupervised? I don't mean like home alone, but in another room, on another floor of the house?

 

This past weekend we were doing some serious cleaning, so we took down the gate at the top of our stairs so we could move larger items easier.  We live in a raised ranch and have a big playroom on the lower level.  My 20 month old has started going downstairs and playing on his own.  He knows most of his toys are down there, and if I am in the middle of something upstairs, he will just head on down and play contently.  Is he too young for this? I am mostly worried about the stairs, but he is very comfortable on them, and is aware of his limitations.  I am tempted to put the gate back up, but I don't want to mess with his new found independence.  But I also feel like he is a little young to be playing so far away (no brothers or sisters looking over him)? Is this okay, or am I just a normal, worrying, FTM? I can hear him playing down there, and it is baby proofed.  If he wants something he will call me, or just come upstairs and grab me.

 

Any insight appreciated :)



APToddlerMama's Avatar APToddlerMama 02:09 PM 07-09-2012
My son played solo in a baby proofed room at that age. As long as I could hear him I felt fine. Stairs solo at that age would make me very nervous.
artekah's Avatar artekah 02:18 PM 07-09-2012
I think with stairs it depends on the kid. When my DS was 20 months stairs were no problem whatsoever! I can see how there is a huge range of stair-readiness for that age though. I say OP's judgement is probably best as she knows her child.
graciegal's Avatar graciegal 04:43 PM 07-09-2012

My 22 month DD I still make her hold my hand going down the stairs. Freaks me out! She is horrible for climbing, grabbing, and getting into trouble so we arent at unsupervised yet....
 


forestmushroom's Avatar forestmushroom 04:51 PM 07-09-2012

As long as you can hear him and room is baby proofed, I think it is totally fine. For what it is worth, my guy at 2 years old could open every baby gate/climb over it at that point, so it is probably a good idea for you to get used to life without baby gates. :)
 

 

Just check on him periodically, but I think it is healthy for children to be comfortable playing alone.  My guy was an early walker and could go up and down stairs very well by 20 months... so that wouldn't worry me either.


skycheattraffic's Avatar skycheattraffic 07:56 PM 07-09-2012
I let my 15 month old play solo in a baby proofed room on the same floor and the stairs are gated or closed off with doors. At her age, it's five minutes at a time if that but I can hear her babbling and banging her toys. I'm two seconds away do I'm comfortable with it. If you're confident in him safely taking the stairs and that you would hear a problem, I would go for it :-)
emilyj67's Avatar emilyj67 08:12 AM 07-10-2012

As soon as my daughter seemed comfortable on the stairs, I let her play in another room/floor. Of course, it's easier if you are up and they are playing down, as there's not such a great chance of falling on the stairs. :) We took off the gate when we realized we were never using it, and that it was only serving to narrow the staircase!  


mokey4's Avatar mokey4 09:48 AM 07-10-2012

My 16 month old is fine playing in another room on the same floor. She is also fine playing with her big sister (3 years old) out of my sight, but I keep them in hearing range and check in periodically- you never know when the 3 year old might decide it's time to start "picking up" the 16 month old. Actually they always get along MUCH better when they are not near me, something about competition for mama. And the worst thing my older daughter will do to the younger is try to keep her out of trouble- she kind of relishes in holding her back from doing things, and it generally causes more harm than good.

 

The younger is very good on stairs already- she can go up and down the steps to the outside by herself, she always holds on to the railing. If I'm there, she'll reach out for my hand. If there is no railing she knows to sit down on her butt and scoot down, and she'll climb up with her hands if there's no railing. Still, we don't trust her on the stairs inside our house- we live in an old 3 level house, the stairs to the upstairs level are steep and narrow- it used to be a ladder up to the attic there. So we have those stairs gated off. And there's a door to the stairs to the basement which we leave closed. DD2 knows how to open the door, but she shows no interest in going down those stairs. Even when I take her down there with me she prefers to be carried- there are no risers and the railing is too high for her to hold onto. My 3 year old still holds my hand on those stairs (though mostly because she's afraid of the spider webs- good reason not to clean the spider webs, haha).


BabySmurf's Avatar BabySmurf 12:02 PM 07-10-2012

Thanks so much for the feedback! I definitely check in on him.  At first I was really worried about the stairs too, but after watching him, I feel like one of the posters had a point - we do need to get used to taking the gates down at some point anyway.  Plus it is really nice to be able to finish up a chore or two without him yanking on my legs!

Thanks for making me feel better!


sageowl's Avatar sageowl 04:54 PM 07-10-2012

If you are lucky enough to have a child that will play alone, I say it's fine to let them as long as there aren't any major safety hazards in the space, and they're past the oral stage (so you don't have to worry as much).  Check in once in awhile, especially if it's gotten *quiet* all of a sudden, but depending on the kid, he or she may be happy playing alone.


AnaB's Avatar AnaB 05:09 PM 07-10-2012

I have two, 3.5 year old and 8 month old, they are so much better playing together when I am out of sight! I work from home - so I leave them to play together with toys either within hearing range, or I set up a baby monitor. I love that they can be independent like that and I can get stuff done, I think it is good for them to occupy themselves (I never hear "I'm bored" from my toddler). When I only had one, I think I started leaving her on her own around 18 months (with no access to stairs), but she didn't like it much because she had no one to play with. It's great your little one likes to play on his own!


BabySmurf's Avatar BabySmurf 07:50 PM 07-10-2012

i'm surprised myself! it's not all the time or for particularly long, but i think it is pretty good for him...i'm happy to see that he is that confident, and it's really interesting to see that he made that choice once the barrier was taken away.  although most of the time he would rather still be near me ;)


sk8boarder15's Avatar sk8boarder15 10:28 PM 07-10-2012

My son is 21 months and as long as I know the areas he can acsess are safe I let him go pretty much anywhere. Often he has full run of the main floor (sometimes I gate off the kitchen) and he can go up and down the stairs to get to his room. I shut all the other doors upstairs (He still can't open doors) so he can only get to his room, but he will often go up there and look at books all on his own. Our stairs are carpeted, and split with a landing halfway up, so they are a little safer than average, but he handles them fine and I don't worry at all. :) 


Buddhamom's Avatar Buddhamom 07:46 AM 07-11-2012

My 12 mo. old has been playing in other rooms on the same floor as I am by herself as soon as she started crawling.  They are all baby proof rooms and the stairs are gated.  As soon as it gets too quiet, I peek around the corner just to make sure. She is VERY independant. Stairs I am not a fan of but that is my choice.


WindyCityMom's Avatar WindyCityMom 12:20 PM 07-11-2012

My kids have always played solo in babyproofed rooms.. that is, chemicals locked up, outlets and cords covered, nothing heavy that could fall on them, no chokeables, etc... I think it's important for kids to learn self-structured play.  If an adult is there in the room, even if I'm just knitting or something- it can hinder their imagination.  My DD1 is extremely shy and won't play the elaborate games that she plays if I'm in the room or in view of her.  My DD2 could care less, lol.


Renaissance31's Avatar Renaissance31 02:11 PM 07-11-2012
My DS (now 21 months) has always been big into playing on his own... Really as soon as he became mobile. I have always been comfortable leaving him in a baby proofed room for short periods when I am in earshot. Now that he is bigger he is fine on the stairs alone (ours are also carpeted and have a landing in the middle as another poster has). He climbs up on his hands and knees and goes down on his belly/hands and knees with his feet first, just as he gets down off of anything (couch, bed, armchairs etc). He is very confident at it and I allow him to go on his own when there is ever a reason for him to do so. He doesn't generally have access to them because we have a crawling 7 month old DD as well and they are typically together unless they are in their rooms asleep.
P.J.'s Avatar P.J. 02:30 PM 07-12-2012

This was a question I had as we just moved into a house with stairs and we bought gates but haven't needed them and I was curious what others do about stairs. DS is 26 months and very skilled and cautious and graceful with his body. I have realized he can do stairs and has been able to for many months now (his daycare is upstairs and he learned there when they go out every day). We now need to sell those gates on eBay! But we are still very careful and do not let him go up or down alone. (it's a twisty spiral-type staircase with flat but unevenly sized steps, very narrow in the middle and wide on the edges) His room is upstairs and he sometimes plays there while I make dinner or do whatever just downstairs. I can always hear him and pay close attention and check in. It's never more than maybe 15mins at a stretch. I think this varies greatly though and I know some 2 year olds who are crazy into everything, putting everything in their mouth still, climbing things we wouldn't even think were climbable, etc. etc. That type of child needs full-time supervision and/or absolute babyproofing.


aHikaru's Avatar aHikaru 06:46 PM 07-13-2012

2


BabySmurf's Avatar BabySmurf 07:19 PM 07-13-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post

My kids have always played solo in babyproofed rooms.. that is, chemicals locked up, outlets and cords covered, nothing heavy that could fall on them, no chokeables, etc... I think it's important for kids to learn self-structured play.  If an adult is there in the room, even if I'm just knitting or something- it can hinder their imagination.  My DD1 is extremely shy and won't play the elaborate games that she plays if I'm in the room or in view of her.  My DD2 could care less, lol.

Ha! I am so not allowed to be doing ANYTHING other than watching my DS when I am in the room with him! He makes sure that I am completely focused on him for the most part.  I am able to do short bursts of chores at a time, but most of the time if he sees my attention waning, or if I pick up a magazine, etc, he will come over and complain.  That's why I was so thrown off by his choice to go down and play!

Usually it's just so he can ride around on his train or mickey mouse rider thingie, since the room is mostly unfurnished at this point...we obviously can't keep the riders upstairs without the gate on. 


Mommel's Avatar Mommel 12:09 AM 07-17-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buddhamom View Post

My 12 mo. old has been playing in other rooms on the same floor as I am by herself as soon as she started crawling.  They are all baby proof rooms and the stairs are gated.  As soon as it gets too quiet, I peek around the corner just to make sure. She is VERY independant. Stairs I am not a fan of but that is my choice.

 

Oh this is us too! Moo is not even 10 months and he'll go crawling off into the other room all the time. Mostly not too far, but if he gets too quiet I peek in on him.

 

As an aside... the other day he figured out how to get into the bathroom cabinet where I keep my hair stuff (headbands and hairbrushes mostly), and went to work teasing out a few of my purple clip-in hair extensions, strand by strand. Things got too quiet and when I went around the corner to check on him, I was nearly on top of him before he noticed I was there, and he jumped out of his skin when I quietly asked what he was doing!! ROTFL Needless to say I have re-baby-proofed everything again and changed up the cabinet locks for stronger models.

 

That said, OP, I really think you should trust your instincts. Every single kiddo is different and a mama's own worst enemy is second-guessing her own mama-gut. Stairs would freak me out, depending on how stable and sturdy he is. Keeping a close eye on your LO can never be a bad thing... unless of course he's like... 20? LOL


BabySmurf's Avatar BabySmurf 08:49 AM 07-17-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommel View Post

 

Oh this is us too! Moo is not even 10 months and he'll go crawling off into the other room all the time. Mostly not too far, but if he gets too quiet I peek in on him.

 

As an aside... the other day he figured out how to get into the bathroom cabinet where I keep my hair stuff (headbands and hairbrushes mostly), and went to work teasing out a few of my purple clip-in hair extensions, strand by strand. Things got too quiet and when I went around the corner to check on him, I was nearly on top of him before he noticed I was there, and he jumped out of his skin when I quietly asked what he was doing!! ROTFL Needless to say I have re-baby-proofed everything again and changed up the cabinet locks for stronger models.

 

That said, OP, I really think you should trust your instincts. Every single kiddo is different and a mama's own worst enemy is second-guessing her own mama-gut. Stairs would freak me out, depending on how stable and sturdy he is. Keeping a close eye on your LO can never be a bad thing... unless of course he's like... 20? LOL


My issue isn't so much with him going to another room to play; he has done that on occasion from a pretty young age too.  I am just used to one floor living, so he was always close by.  In this situation, he is way further away than I am used to...Now that the novelty has worn off, more often than not he wants me to go with him, but there was a solid few days that he would just take off down stairs without so much as a hint that he was thinking of it.  (He is very sturdy on stairs).  He would stay down there for much longer than he was willing to play in his room alone, so I was just curious how far away and for how long most other kids played....


dejagerw's Avatar dejagerw 12:16 PM 07-17-2012

DS2 is 18 months. He'll sometimes go off and play with his brother upstairs or down in the basement (finished basement). He's good about the stairs and manages to stay out of trouble. DS1 (3.75) will usually rat him out if he starts getting into something he shouldn't. But our house is pretty well babyproofed, so I don't worry.
 


Mommel's Avatar Mommel 02:10 PM 07-17-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by BabySmurf View Post


My issue isn't so much with him going to another room to play; he has done that on occasion from a pretty young age too.  I am just used to one floor living, so he was always close by.  In this situation, he is way further away than I am used to...Now that the novelty has worn off, more often than not he wants me to go with him, but there was a solid few days that he would just take off down stairs without so much as a hint that he was thinking of it.  (He is very sturdy on stairs).  He would stay down there for much longer than he was willing to play in his room alone, so I was just curious how far away and for how long most other kids played....

 

Sorry. My mistake... ?


100%mom's Avatar 100%mom 05:13 PM 07-17-2012

My 18 month old can climb out of her crib!! Then open the bedroom door and come downstairs. So I catch her playing in her room instead of napping. I think 20 months is fine to be left along upstairs as long as it's childproofed and you check on her. I agree it is a bit strange at first when they start playing so far away from you.


BabySmurf's Avatar BabySmurf 07:10 PM 07-17-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mommel View Post

 

Sorry. My mistake... ?


not intending to undermine your post! more just trying to clarify my question...i think i feel a little silly with so many people saying "of course my kids crawl into the next room!"....my (seems to be quite unfounded) apprehension was that he was much further away than what i was used to...


Up