Parents often think that they need to continuously engage their baby to support their developmental growth. Pediatrician and infant development expert, Dr. Mona Amin, shares insight on why a bored baby isn’t a bad thing. In fact, boredom in your baby can actually be beneficial for their early development.
Do babies get bored? Is it okay for us to allow our babies to be bored? There is a common misconception that we need to be attached to our infants and toddlers all the time, engaging with them, and if we can’t do that, they won’t feel secure or know that we are there for them.
What is Secure Attachment?
Secure attachment is when our child feels confident to explore the world around them, try new activities, and meet new people with an understanding that they have us, their parents, as a safety net if they need it. Teaching secure attachment not only means being a loving presence to our child but it also means teaching them independence and encouraging them to learn that they are capable of doing new things. This means that sometimes we must allow our babies and toddlers to be bored.
Boredom is something we commonly forget to allow our children to express. We feel we need to constantly entertain them but in actuality, boredom can result in creativity and learning. Boredom doesn’t mean letting your baby constantly cry during play time while you ignore them. Boredom means:
- Allowing baby to play in a play gym and stare at the simple baby toys hanging around them.
- Giving them some independence at the beginning of play time to see what they can do for themselves before we assist.
This boredom can encourage them to reach for an object, track a toy, roll around, and eventually crawl towards a favorite toy.
I practice an autonomy/intervention model with parenting. It means from a young age, taking pauses with our child before we intervene. When they are playing, see what they can accomplish first on their own before we jump in and show them. If they cry, whimper, or are upset, we gently show them how to play with a certain item and encourage them to learn the skill we are trying to teach them.
Let’s say you have a two-month-old practicing tummy time, who continuously cries during this activity. It’s something new for them, so they are unsure of what else to do. By practicing autonomy/intervention, you are allowing them a moment to figure out tummy time on their own before you jump in. Do this by:
- Letting them fuss a bit more before you intervene.
- Laying down with them on your belly and making eye contact, use visually stimulating items, like a mirror or black and white contrast cards, to entice and encourage them to move and look around.
Eventually, they will learn that this new skill isn’t so bad. By practicing autonomy and intervention, you are building your infant’s ability to be independent. Subsequently, you will see that they will play independently and be “bored” more, when they see that boredom is not a bad thing.
A bored baby makes an independent baby.
Boredom allows your child to explore on their own, encouraging them to learn how to problem solve and play with an item in their own way without any interference. For example, if your child was bored with a teething toy, they may start to shake it to see if it makes a sound. Boredom for babies will be subtle, but it goes a long way in teaching them problem solving skills which will serve them well later in life.
Remember, you are always going to be there for your child but teaching them independent play and how it’s okay to be bored is a skill that will serve them well in the long-run.
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