Life as a WAHM: Encouraging Independent Play in Toddlers

Independent play is something that I was able to instill in Leo at an early age. Here are some reasons why it is so beneficial.

Encouraging independent play for toddlers is a great way for them to exercise use of their imagination and will build up their playful skills for preschool! Read all of our tips! #toddlers #independentplay #FabulousHabits

Go on, mama – encourage your little one to use his/her imagination!

Life, as a work-at-home-mom, can be hectic. Sure, I reap in the benefits when it comes to making my own schedule, being flexible (i.e., putting aside work if the little guy gets sick), and saving on full-time daycare/sitter costs.

But, on a regular basis, it’s a huge juggling act. Being a mom is a full time job as it is; I consider it akin to working double shifts.

Now that Leo has reached the toddler phase, he’s been exercising a lot more independent play. It’s exciting to see him use his imagination and observe how he interacts with games and toys.

Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with my little one. But a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. Whether you’re working or finishing up chores, a parent can’t be at their kiddos’ side 24/7.

Here are some ways to encourage independent play for your toddler.

How to Encourage Independent Play

Choose Versatile Toys

When I purchase toys, I try to think of the different ways they can be played with. I ask myself, “Are they good quality? Will it encourage the use of my kiddo’s imagination? How fast will he get bored with it?”

Lego, DUPLO, and Play-Doh require so much imaginative play and creativity, we often fill our toy boxes with those. Of course, it is so important to keep up with the toy’s level – make sure you are always purchasing products suited for your child’s age.

Encouraging independent play for toddlers is a great way for them to exercise use of their imagination and will build up their playful skills for preschool! Read all of our tips! #toddlers #independentplay #FabulousHabits

Check In and Play Every Now and Then

Besides keeping my eye on them, I like to go back and forth; joining my little guy for mini play sessions. It shows that I’m interested in what he’s doing and I can offer him ideas about what he can do/play with next.

Show & Tell

Ask your little one to show you what it is he/she is doing. Again, it’s all about showing interest. This will encourage them to use their imagination more and is a great way to exercise good communication skills.

Encouraging independent play for toddlers is a great way for them to exercise use of their imagination and will build up their playful skills for preschool! Read all of our tips! #toddlers #independentplay #FabulousHabits

Keep it to a Minimum

Your child’s play area shouldn’t be filled to the brim with toys. This can create an overwhelming atmosphere that may over stimulate your little one. Instead, try a toy rotation so that your child can focus on one theme day-to-day.

How old were your kiddos when they started to play on their own? Would you try any of these tricks to encourage independent play?

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Encouraging independent play for toddlers is a great way for them to exercise use of their imagination and will build up their playful skills for preschool! Read all of our tips! #toddlers #independentplay #FabulousHabits


  1. These are all great ideas! It’s amazing to watch kids use their imagination. Some of the things they come up with is pretty cool!

  2. this is great and super encouraged with my toddler who needs a bit more independent play in his life- legos are a HUGe hit too! cant wait to share w/ a few friends!

  3. I love these ideas. When my now-7-year-old was home with me it was important to let her know the schedule and what to expect each day. I do quite a bit of livestreaming so letting her know “I’m livestreaming for x minutes and then we’ll do xyz” helped tremendously to keep her from barging in mid-stream.

  4. It’s good for kids to know how to do some independent play. My younger daughter has a tough time doing anything on her own, I think it is a younger sibling thing! She really needs to work on doing some independent play!

  5. My daughter was a rock star with independent play. Her imagination was incredible. One time I left her a bit too long, and she had literally removed every knickknack I had in my house and lined them up in the hallway. She came and got me, said, bring your purse, you are going shopping! LOL, it was so awesome!

  6. It’s so important for little ones to learn to play independently! Your tips are really helpful. My kids are grown now, but I remember the days when they wanted to be entertained a lot!

  7. That is pretty amazing! My nephew really loves playing lego! I am really glad to know these tips you’ve shared.

  8. I work at home and also take care of my niece. She is great on playing alone and has great imagination of play. Love all these ideas!

  9. Love this. It really is so important. Going in and playing together is important too, but our kids really do need to foster their imagination and learn how to play independently like this too!

  10. This is really important to introduce to children at a young age. We have a good range of toys for my children to do this. It really does help encourage them to be more imaginative.

  11. Independent play is so good for kids! It grows their minds and their imaginations every single day!

  12. My son has always been super independent… even when he was really little so independent play was so simple. My daughter on the other hand- different story. She feels like she has to be playing with someone all the time. I will be trying some of these tips for sure though!

  13. I love these ideas. It’s so important for kids to learn how to play and experience things on their own. It’s how they learn to be independent.

  14. Encouraging independent play is a must. It is surprising that many parents do not encourage this.

  15. My kids learned to play on their own when they were in pre-school. I noticed my grandson playing independently when he turned 30 months old. I only supervise him once in a while. He is perfectly content creating “trains” from his Duplo set and Lego set.

  16. I thought toddlers are not to be left alone to play. Now I will definitely encourage independent playing for my lil cousin. 🙂

  17. These are great ideas and inspo. My little one is an only child and already super independent.

  18. These are some really great ideas. Being able to focus and pound out my work at home helps the rest of the day go smoothly!

  19. I love it when they find good ways to keep themselves busy while I go work. It is so calming!

  20. Even I am rncouraging my kid for independent play. Though she still asks me to play with her but most of the time she loves playing on her own

  21. First, your baby is such a cutie!

    Love how you emphasized well on independent plays of toddlers. Gonna do this with my nephew. 🙂

  22. This hit at home so much! Our little one is far from independent, he requires constant attention and has a 3-second attention span. It’s exhausting for us, and I think he could gain so much value from learning to play independently and letting run his imagination.

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