Perfect Children Play Space

How to Create the Perfect Play Space to Encourage Independent Play

By Team Ahimsa



Time to Read: 5 min

How to Encourage Independent Play

By Chandler Marburg, Montessori educator and contributor to Little Partners

As children grow, we as parents are forever rearranging and organizing their rooms and play areas. What is the best way that we can encourage our children to play and work independently? It’s important at an early age to create a dedicated play space that will encourage a child to explore on their own while also building their independent skills and fostering self-esteem.

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

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So, how to encourage independent play and where to begin?

Establish a space that you can dedicate solely to your child and their playthings.

This does not have to be a large area. For example, a simple age-appropriate shelf will suffice for a young toddler. Make sure it is reachable for their height (and safely secured to the wall) so that they can put their things away without assistance from an adult. 

Place items sparingly in the space. 

4-6 materials will do. If your child can see the material or toy displayed neatly on a shelf, they will have a deeper respect for the item. Every few weeks or so, swap out the materials out to keep your child engaged and curious. It’s important to set little ones up for success. Be sure that the selected play materials are manageable for a young child. They should be able to grip and transport pieces independently. Place items in baskets or small containers to encourage organization and so as not to overwhelm the child. 

You will also want to add an age-appropriate table and chairs. 

Toddlers love to pull chairs out and sit down, then push them in once they are done. Research has shown that children can focus better when their feet are planted on the floor while sitting. This works to build their confidence and self-esteem. 

Establish a sense of order in the cadence of your child’s play.

Encourage your child to choose one activity at a time and then return the toy or material to its designated place before moving on to the next activity. This will promote a sense of order and structure and establish an appreciation and respect for their things.

As a parent, observing your child’s developing needs is key to providing them with a successful play space to encourage independence. Guiding our little ones to always be mindful of their materials and their environment will help them develop into thoughtful and successful individuals with a respect for the world around them.

 Photo by: @lifewithrowan

Independent Mealtime Essentials

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

About Ahimsa Founder Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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