Okay, Mamas. I realize blanket time gets criticized in some circles. I guess somewhere along the line, someone was teaching parents to blanket train their young babies by spanking little hands and forcing them to stay on the blanket. This is not what we do, so please don’t get all bent out of shape and send me hate mail. Or hate email. Or whatever. 🙂
Around here, blanket time is simply a parent-directed toddler playtime–with a blanket boundary. It isn’t harsh–absolutely no hitting babies allowed. My toddlers have all learned to sit and play for up to about 30 minutes. When our virtual triplets were younger (they’re all 6 now!), we did couch time, because we happened to have three couches. Once a day, 30 minutes of sitting on “their” couch was scheduled into our day.
Anyway, we only have one toddler at the moment, so we’re using blanket time again. Titus is 16 months, and you can watch the video below for a little peek into how blanket time works for us(and see my very adorable toddler. I am unashamedly in love with my little fellow!). I For about ninety percent of our baby’s day, he’s being played with or held. We still co-sleep as well, so I guess he’s being held at night, too. Kind of. But I like to begin working with my little ones on some reasonable self-control boundaries, and blanket time is actually a fun way to do that.
*As with absolutely everything I post here, if this resonates with you, and you want to try it, go for it. If, for whatever reason, you hate the idea, that’s cool. 🙂 The title of this blog is “Perspectives in Parenting” for a reason–I’m offering my perspective but I’m always open to yours as well.
Back to those tips:
- Start blanket time after baby is walking well and understands “Sit down”. I’ve found curious crawlers to be too young to understand the boundary well.
- Make it fun by your facial expressions, your tone of voice, and some special toys!
- Pick a time of day when baby isn’t hungry or fussy.
- Sit baby on blanket and go around the edges with a gentle but firm, “Stay on your blanket!”
- Stay very close by, and as needed, sit your baby back down on the blanket and say again, “Stay on your blanket!”
- Catch baby playing happily (maybe try 5 minutes the first few times), then pick them up and offer praise!
- Plan to be consistent with making baby sit down–but be reasonable. Some busy babies take a little longer to learn. 🙂
- I’ve found 10 to 20 minutes works well initially, with up to 30 minutes for an older child. Rotate the toys so they stay special and fun. I used to pull out those VTech alphabet type toys when I had three toddlers at once.
- If you have more than one young child, teach them separately (so you can focus on the child), but once they have the concept, you can put two blankets down at once. I’ve found children seem to enjoy having a few minutes of their day where they are part of the action but not at risk for anyone else stealing their toys. 🙂 I used to set a timer for 10 minutes and then rotate the children so they could enjoy the various special toys on each blanket.
Don’t miss this new Three Minute Tip on Blanket Time Training!