Inspiring Creative Play in a 17-month Old

I try to limit screen time as much as I can in our household, especially during the hours when Caleb is awake. While I don’t think we will ever be a completely screen-free household, by placing a limit on the amount of time we sit watching TV, on our phones, or on our computer, it encourages us to be more active.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ages 2 to 5 be limited to one hour of screen time a day, with consistent limits for older children on the amount of time and place they get to have screen time.

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My biggest tip for encouraging creative play, especially in a child under two, is to keep it simple.

There is no need to go out and spend a bunch of money on toys. Having a few key pieces (and maybe rotating a few others in on a particularly rainy day) avoids the problem of over-stimulation. Don’t be afraid to re-home toys. Get rid of anything they don’t play with, is broken or you’re ready to move on from.

Along the same vein, don’t feel the need to plan out some elaborate sensory activity for your child. It’s easy to feel the need to if you’re browsing through Instagram, but something as simple as a box of pom-poms and some toilet paper tubes are perfect.

Go Natural.

I always like to make sure that I have a variety of open-ended toys around the house to help not only keep Caleb entertained, but to spark his imagination. These include toys in a variety of materials (wood, silk, felt, etc) so that he is exposed to all sorts of textures. Though Caleb does have some plastic toys, I’ve tried to re-home most of his toys that are noisy or flashy. This allows Caleb to become an active participant in his play versus just being amused by his toys.

Some of my favorite products are play silks, wooden toys (like Grimm’s), and felt fruit. I also have musical toys, like shaker eggs, sticks, and a Gatorade bottle filled with lentils!

Embracing the Silence

One of the biggest things I’ve had to learn myself is how to embrace silence. I’m used to having something on in the background – either the TV or music. But since having Caleb, I’ve learned how to embrace the silence. Well… silence to an extent. By not having something else going on in the background, it gives you (and your child) more of an opportunity to focus on what’s going on in front of you.

Personally speaking, I’ve noticed that I tend to work more efficiently with “silence” – even if that silence is Caleb running around yelling!

Have a ‘Yes’ Space

Having a child invites chaos into our lives. We pick up a room only to find it destroyed moments later. We constantly watch our little ones like a hawk, running after them, securing cabinets, putting bumpers on tables, telling them “don’t do that”.

But what if we had a space where we didn’t have to do all of that? A space where our child was free to roam? A “yes” space where nothing was off-limits?

I know that I’m fortunate to have a house where I can create a “yes” space. Our yes space is located above our garage and shares the same room as my office. I’ve had to make a few minor adjustments to make this playroom/office function as a yes space, but we are nearly there. Don’t worry, I have a tour planned soon. We spend the majority of our day up here (when we aren’t outside) so it’s nice to have a space where I don’t really have to watch Caleb.

What are some of your favorite ways to encourage creative play in a child?

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