Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blanket Training

The basic idea of blanket training is to train your baby to sit quietly in a small space with a few toys.  This keeps him out of trouble and happier when mom is busy, both at home and out and about.  You can get a task done or enjoy a quick visit, and baby can play instead of cry and whine and act out!

The training turned out to be even easier than I thought it would be!  It has transformed our morning Bible time, and has also been great at church and other places.  (I started when Tyler was around 13-14 months old, but you could definitely start earlier.)

Here are my tips:

- Have a positive attitude.  You aren't sitting baby down here as a punishment or a time out.  It is a fun thing to look forward to.  Use a cheerful voice and a familiar phrase.  "Yay! It's Blanket Time!"

- Obedience is a must. Give simple instructions and insist on strict obedience, especially at first. For example, "Sit down." Do not allow baby to stand on the blanket. He must sit.  If he tries to stand, use whatever form of discipline you use at other times to convince him he wants to stay seated.  We use a swat on the bottom. (All you non-spankers are cringing, aren't you?)

- Reserve a special set of toys.  We have a shoebox full of colorful blocks that only come out for Blanket Time.  And really, they only come out for Blanket Time in the mornings when we are having Bible.  If Tyler is awake for our read-aloud in the afternoon, I pull out a set of puzzles for the variety.  For a work-day at church recently I brought our blanket and the Blanket Time blocks.

- Be patient.  I first began blanket training for us to be able to have our morning Bible time without me constantly interrupting myself correcting Tyler.  However, I had to allow time at first for even more interruptions for correcting and training.  For the first week or two, I moved from my place in my rocking chair to sitting in the floor next to Tyler's blanket.  In the end, the extra interruptions paid off, and now I only have to offer a word here and there for him to sit back down.  Also, don't start out expecting your baby to sit contentedly for an hour at a time.  We started with 10-15 minutes.  Tyler can now do up to 20-30 very well.  I expect as he gets older that time will increase.

- Enforce.  Now that we have "made it" and Tyler does well on a blanket, I don't want to relax and lose what we have gained.  So although I can often correct him with just a word and not a bottom-swat, I am still careful to make sure he is staying in-bounds.  Literally.  I do allow him to roll and waller, but not with the better portion of his body hanging off the blanket.  Over half his body must be on the blanket.  No, I haven't explained or even stated that rule to him, but believe me, he knows when he is pushing his limits.  We also do not allow the throwing of toys.

- Celebrate.  When we are done with whatever activity called for Tyler's blanket time, I turn my full attention to him and proclaim, "All done!"  I love on him and praise him for a job well-done.  Then he helps me put away his blocks and I send him on his merry way while I put up the blanket and toys.

- Be creative.  There are plenty of opportunities to grab a blanket, a bath towel, a folded sheet, small rug, or any other definite floor space and plop down a baby, toddler, or preschooler.  In a pinch, anything safe can be a good diversion: measuring cups & spoons, board books, paper and crayons (as long as your kid won't eat them, like mine does)... the sky is the limit.  Well, that and whatever you have available.  Blanket time is helpful at church, home, or anytime you find yourself in a not-so-child-friendly or child-proofed place.

I am fairly certain almost every one of these ideas came from the Duggar's book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting! (Amazon Associate link), but I have seen blanket training on quite a few blogs, too.  Since it has been so great for us, it is now on this blog as well. ;)  (If I am wrong about the Duggar thing, would someone please remind me where all this came from?)

Have you tried blanket training?  What helpful hints do you have?

This post is linking up to Works-for-me_Wednesday @ We Are That Family.

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

So, I gotta know.. Is it always calm for you? Homeschooling, I mean? I feel bad now that I've never done this with any of mine and I feel like I've failed. Did I miss my window of opportunity with Baby? I need reassurance!