If your infant is suddenly mobile and you feel like you’re spending far too much time saying “no” -- “No, don't stick that in the electrical outlet,” “No, don't eat your sister's old sock,” and “No, stay away from the stairs,” it might be time for a little change. Create a space for her where “no” isn’t necessary and "yes" rules the day.
During your infant’s first several months of life, he can’t get around on his own, so the number of no-no’s he can get himself into are extremely limited. Before he learns to crawl, you seldom ever have to tell him no. You give him toys that are safe for him to play with and you don't have to worry that he'll scoot away if you turn your back for three seconds. After your infant gets mobile, the word “no” might just end up the most used word in the house. To help combat the negativity, you can create a space for your infant to explore -- where the only word you’ll have to say is “yes.”
Before you give your kid the green light to do as she pleases, you have to make sure it’s safe. Cover electrical outlets, remove hanging cords from windows and blinds, and get rid of any items within her reach that can be broken or are small enough to pose a choking hazard. Next, get down on all fours and take a look around to ensure you haven’t missed anything. Look at the edges of furniture from your new perspective. Sharp edges and blunt corners should be covered with a generous padding or removed from the room. Dressers and bookcases should be secured to the wall with L brackets, as should any other furniture that can be tipped or climbed. Finally, consider the flooring choice in your baby’s room. Carpet provides the most cushioned landing, but you can cover a hardwood or laminate floor with foam mats or tiles.
You can fill your baby’s space with different colors and textures for him to discover by placing cushions or small foam mats all over the room. Now he can explore the objects through touch and develop his gross motor skills by crawling over them like mountains and stacking them like blocks. You can push the cushions against one wall when they’re not in use to ensure your baby has plenty of space to crawl around, too. Alternatively, you can use folded blankets, plush characters or pillows to accomplish the same goals.
Since you don’t have to stand over top of your baby to ensure she is safe in her “yes” space, use the area as an opportunity for her to explore on her own and learn how to play independently. You don’t have to leave the room to encourage her exploration; simply sit back and watch as your young adventurer discovers her surroundings. Fill the room with child-safe objects to explore, such as infant’s musical instruments, fabric storybooks and stacking toys. To fill the room on a budget, look for different types of fabric to let your baby explore textures, use measuring cups and spoons instead of stacking toys, create musical instruments from margarine containers, filled with rice and sealed shut with duct tape. Secure mirrors on the wall if you can do so safely, or look for infant toys with mirrors so your youngster can check out her reflection.
Image via James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images