What is floor time and how does it support my baby’s development. Pediatrician and Enfamil infant development expert, Dr. Mona Amin, explains how floor time is important for baby’s development – particularly cognitive and movement development – and what parents can do to encourage play during floor time.
Why and How can Floor Time benefit baby?
What is floor time and why is it important for babies? Floor time is an opportunity for our infants to play on the floor that offers several benefits to both you and baby. Parents often feel the need for fancy toys and an ample amount of time to engage their baby and end up focusing more on quantity rather than quality. In reality, quality time is more important than the quantity of time and, similarly, a few quality toys can go a long way.
You can begin floor time around 2-3 months old when baby is awake and more engaged in play time.
What does Independent Floor Time look like?
Independent free-play on the floor looks different in infants than in older children. But the concept remains the same – you’re not in their face all the time and allowing them to be independent with play items near them. You can lay your infant on their back or tummy on a mat, while staying nearby in case they cry or look to you for comfort. Tip: Switch up baby’s positions to trigger different senses and muscle groups.
A play gym is a great place to put them in as there are interesting toys to look at and play with. Independent floor time allows your baby to play while you are still nearby for support. This can sometimes give you time to respond to some emails, prepare a meal, or take a moment for yourself before you go back to 1:1 play.
Independent floor time also allows baby to have time to get bored, which has its own benefits.
Independent floor time helps build many skills:
Motor skills/movement developmentFloor time allows your baby to be out of carriers and “containers” (such as swings and seats) that don’t allow babies to use their big muscles. Time on the floor allows them to strengthen and work their big muscles to eventually do tummy time, roll over, crawl, and walk.
IndependenceFloor time can be used to build independent play time. By having your baby on the floor in a safe area, it can give you time to prep a meal in the kitchen or work on something nearby. It allows them to play while you take care of things you need to, so you can be more present during 1:1 play time. You as a caretaker are not going anywhere but allowing your child to play while you keep a close and watchful eye gives them the independence and security they need to explore the world.
Problem solving/cognitive developmentWhen babies are playing on the floor and have their favorite toys around them, they can learn problem solving skills to reach for items. For example, if their favorite toy is just out of reach, they can use their skills to reach for an item and learn how to use their bodies to achieve their goal. This can eventually lead to movement such as rolling or crawling.
Builds self-confidenceWhen an infant rolls over, have you seen how happy they get when they can roll back? This is great as it’s important for them to feel proud of themselves. They may need you to help guide them in these movements, but when they finally figure it out--and you are there to encourage them—they will feel so proud of their hard work.
Interactive Floor Time
Floor play can also be where you lay on the ground and engage them in activities where you are at their level or where you are nearby keeping an eye on them, but not as physically involved. I believe this mix is important to raise an independent child who feels loved and engaged.
And of course, remember to enjoy play time with baby! When you’re happy and excited, they’re happy and excited.
Want to know how to help support baby’s development? Learn why Enfamil NeuroPro fuels baby’s mind and body.