Saturday, 3 July 2010

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Blanket Time (for Babies/Pre-toddlers/Toddlers 14 – 20 months)

I heard about the concept of Blanket Time from “On Becoming Babywise” By Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, a Christian-based parenting book. J has been running around when we are in church. One time when we visited a friend’s place, he was going around into people’s rooms. Then another time, he was taking toys from the host’s toddlers, as if he was in his own home! It is hard to bring J as guest to people’s homes.

I wanted so much for J to be able to do blanket time. But this is probably my greatest challenge, and I don’t think I will ever achieve it. But I will try, and it is alright if he doesn’t achieve it. There are still many good things both J and I will learn in the process.

But I so pleased that J achieved real Blanket Time today!!! He looked at picture books while I busied myself in the kitchen in the morning. I walked around, and he pointed out the pictures to me while on the blanket. I told him the name of the object in the picture without being with him on the blanket. When the timer went after 5 minutes, I told him that Blanket Time is finished and started folding the blanket. He understood and went to play with his push cart.

What is Blanket Time?

Blanket Time is a form of structured independent playtime, where babies/pre-toddlers/toddlers play on their own on a blanket, where mommy chooses the time, the place and the toys baby should play with. Blanket Time is very useful when visiting friends. You will know that your baby will be able to entertain himself, and will respect people’s property not to run around the whole house touching people’s things.

What are the objectives of blanket time?

1. To teach focus skills – so that baby does not jump from one toy to another without really exploring it

2. To teach parameter skills – so that baby is willing to stay in a place, although there is no playpen gates to restrain him

3. To teach obedience and self-control – so that baby will be willing to listen to the instructions of mommy and daddy

When to start?

Blanket Time is suitable for babies 12-24 months. You can start to get familiar with it before baby learns to crawl at around 8 months, however, that is not real blanket time, since he/she would not be able to get off the blanket by himself. Blanket Time training should start around 14 months for crawling or walking babies. I started J when he was around 14M3D old.

What is the ideal blanket size?

I use a 155 x 120cm blanket and it is a comfortable size. Not too big that it is unmanageable, not too small that it is too restrictive for baby.

What toy would be suitable?

It should be a toy that has some novelty effect, or could hold his attention for some time. For J, it is a couple of books or stacking rings. Don't worry, however, about changing toys too frequently. It is alright for the same toys for a week as it will help a child to play with what has been given to him.

How to implement blanket time?

1. Start with only 5 minutes at a time consistently every day or once a week

I started with J for 5 minutes with a timer every Saturday morning right after breakfast and potty time (since I am a working mom, I couldn’t do it during weekdays). If J is showing interest and wants to play longer, add more time. You can always add time again, but once you set the timer, you should not take time away. Slowly work it up to 15 minutes, 20 minutes and 45 minutes.

2. Choose a quiet enclosed spot at home

I chose a place at home where it is less distractive, which is along the “corridor” of our bedrooms. In this way, he could not go anywhere.

3. Start by having blanket time together

I sat with J on the blanket to read a book or two. This helps him to associate good feelings with the blanket – cozy time with mom on the blanket with a book. I did this for about 4 consecutive Saturdays to allow him to get used to it gradually.

4. Move to having blanket time together in an open space

On the 5th Saturday or so, I started by having our Blanket Time together along the corridor, followed by a session of Blanket Time together in a totally open space. I took the blanket downstairs and placed it on the floor beside the sofa in the living room, where there will be no natural boundaries provided by the corridor. I sat with him on the blanket together with some toys (not books, as I knew he would protest, and I did not want him to associate this experience with books) and put the timer to 5 minutes. Whenever he felt tempted to walk away, I would bring him back to the blanket, with much protest from him, of course! But I persisted on for 5 minutes until the timer rang. I did these two sessions for another 3 weeks.

5. Start getting further away from baby

After 3 weeks, I did the same routine, however, this time I tried to sit on the sofa just beside the blanket, instead of being with him on the blanket. In this way, I am not on the blanket, but am near enough to put him back on the blanket, if he strays and protests. J protested and cried and wanted me to play with him on the blanket. I brought him back to the blanket saying, “J, you need to stay on the blanket and play with your toys until the timer rings”. He protested and cried each time I brought him back. I persisted for 5 minutes. Five minutes was up and the timer rang - that was our blanket time session - pretty uneventful. This went on for weeks… I was feeling like I would never achieve Blanket Time, but I told myself that I have at least achieved Reading Time on the blanket together. Not many babies are willing to do that. And so I continued to persist for weeks…

Then finally one day, today 3.7.2010, he willingly sat down on the blanket when I laid the blanket down in the living room with some books on it. He stayed there and looked at the pictures books, with eye contact towards me, and also just alone looking at the books. I told him that I will be doing chores in the kitchen, and talked to him while I was doing chores, and he on the blanket. I walked around the living room, and he pointed to the picture in the book to me. I will tell him what that was, while still doing my own stuff. The timer rang, and the Blanket Time ended. J stayed there willingly without protesting or walking out of the blanket. J succeeded after about 2 months!!! He is 15M28 D today.

References:
http://havingfunathomeblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/13-everyday-objects-to-put-in-toddlers.html

http://www.babywisemom.com/

On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam




On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam is available from Amazon:


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