Blanket Time Full Guide: Teach Baby to Sit Still

Blanket time is a helpful tool to help you teach your child to respect boundaries. It can be a nice quiet time that is structured each day. Find out what is blanket time, the benefits of blanket time, how to implement blanket time, and what to do if baby resists blanket time.

Baby on tummy on a blanket looking at a book

As you read through the various -wise books, it is very easy to miss the information on blanket time. I missed it the first couple of times I read through Toddlerwise, and then I had a hard time finding information on it when I knew about it and tried to find it.

Blanket Time Defined

Blanket time is a Babywise series principle to help children learn boundaries. They learn to sit still and play independently.

In On Becoming Toddlerwise, blanket time is mentioned on pages 45 and 48. Page 45 says for toddlers between ages 14-18 months to do time on a blanket 2-3 times a week for 10-15 minutes at a time.

The purpose of this is to teach parameter skills. Page 48 says for toddlers between ages 14-20 months old, starting with 5 minutes at a time each day. You then work up to 30 minutes or longer.

Blanket time is similar to independent play time, but your child isn’t alone; you are right there. You can interact with your child if you like. You can give instruction to your child. You could have all of your children do blanket time together in the same room. Your child is doing it all on the blanket–an obvious boundary. 

>>>Read: Independent Playtime Overview

You can have blanket time for babies and blanket time for toddlers.

You want to make sure your child is on a blanket or mat of some sort. You do not want your child in a playpen with a literal boundary. You want the boundary to be seen but not literally keeping baby back. This is not playpen time nor independent playtime. The child is in the room with other people. 

Baby playing on a blanket

Blanket Time Benefits

There are many benefits to Blanket Training, including:

  • Having a tool to keep a child in place
  • Teaching a child self-control
  • Teaching children to learn to recognize boundaries
  • Testing obedience. Blanket time is great obedience training

Your child learns a lot of self-control as she sits and plays without physical boundaries. The only thing keeping her there is her willingness to listen and obey.

Think of your little one sitting on a blanket playing while you finish up dinner. Picture how much easier church would be with blanket time as an available tool. Imagine visiting great-grandma and being able to put baby down and know she won’t zip off and break some family heirloom.

Think of going outside with your child and having a spot you know he would stay. Soccer games can be so much easier when your child is staying on a blanket through the game. How much easier would appointments be with this tool at hand? I know this is a tool very loved by homeschooling families. There are many benefits and uses in a homeschooling environment. 

Real Mom Reviews

One mom said: “I think it’s an awesome tool and teaches skills that they don’t learn with roomtime only (staying within boundaries that are not as defined as walls). My little girl is so busy and runs around the house constantly, from one activity to the next. Surprisingly, she LOVES blanket time and I think it is because she can actually focus on a couple toys. One tip I would have is to use a kitchen timer – both for her sake and mine (so I don’t forget to get her off in good time). Also, use special toys that aren’t available at other times of the day. “

Another mom said: “If you don’t do blanket time, you should. Our kids are older now, but we still talk about how great it was. One time we were in a business and had our young son with us. He was fascinated by everything to get into. I pointed out the edges of a rug to him and told him to stay on the rug. He did! Everyone else was amazed.”

Another mom shared: “I agree its very helpful with recognizing boundaries! My current 2yo does it while we the rest of us are prepping breakfast and doing chores. Her mat is on the kitchen floor. I have one activity that we use for awhile until she tires of it (a week or 2). Currently she has her dollhouse out.”

>>>Read: A Parent’s Guide to Structured Playtime

How to teach your child boundaries through daily blanket time with a picture of a baby on a blanket

Blanket Time in Action

You can start blanket time at any age, from infant on through preschooler. You can stop it before your baby can move and simply establish an expectation that the child stays on the blanket. The age you start it would really depend on you and your child.

You can put a completely immobile 8 month old on a blanket to play, but if he can’t move anywhere it isn’t true blanket time. That doesn’t mean you can’t start doing it–it can be useful to teach the habit before he has the option of moving, but he isn’t exercising any sort of personal restraint by staying on the blanket when he couldn’t move off of it in the first place.

You can do blanket time from a few months old on up to a 3 year old. You can really use the concept at any age you need it. There might be times you find you use the concept with your older children. 

Start with 3-5 minutes at a time and work up from there. Show your child the border of the blanket and tell him to stay on the blanket. If (or probably when) your little one gets off the blanket, put your child back on the blanket and repeat to your child to stay on the blanket.

Use a timer to help track the time. Then the timer decides when blanket time is over and not your child’s whining. 

>>>Read: 10 Uses for the Timer that Will Make Parenting Easier

Have a fun toy or activity for your child to do on the blanket. Do not load the blanket with toys. That will overwhelm your child. You can fun activities for your child on the blanket. You could add a book or two, also. Make sure the toys or books used for blanket time are used only for blanket time so they are novel. Rotate toys every so often. 

When time is up, praise your child for doing blanket time. Praise for staying on the blanket. Be really happy and positive about it. Act like your child loved it even if your child was protesting.

Blanket Time FAQ graphic

Blanket Time FAQs

You probably have many questions about blanket time. Here are some answers to common questions with Blanket Time.

What Size of Blanket Should I Use?

You will want to start with a small blanket initially. It needs to be large enough that it can fit your child and some toys. You do not want it so large that your child basically has no boundaries.

You also do not want your child to be tempted to get up and move around (if able). This will introduce too much freedom and too much temptation to move off of the blanket.

The blanket is the physical parameter, so keep the size appropriate for your goals for the activity.

What Toys Should I Use?

Choose toys that your child can play with independently. You do not want a toy that your child will need your help with throughout the playtime. If mommy is stepping in frequently, it makes it so it is not an independent playtime.

You want toys your child is interested in and can have fun with. You want the toys to be fresh. Blanket time toys will ideally be toys only played with at blanket time. Remember, you can rotate toys to keep them fresh.

What Time of Day is Best for Blanket Time?

Whenever you are first introducing something into your child’s life that requires self-control, you want to be very wise in the time of day you do it.

Humans at every age are grumpy and less willing to work when they are tired or hungry.

Make sure your baby is well-rested and fed. You know your child and know when this is, but for most babies and toddlers, this will be in the morning after breakfast. Do not do it too close to the start of nap times or bedtime.

You also want to make sure that it is a time of day that works for you. You need to be close by while your little one does blanket time. Good mom activities during this time include going through your emails, reading a book, folding some laundry, etc.

Have something to do without being distracted and unable to respond to micro-rebellion right away.

It is best if initially, you are basically sitting in one place while you expect your little one to stay in one place. If you are walking in and out of the room, your kiddo will probably want to try to follow.

You want to be wise in how you set this up so you can avoid tantrums and power struggles.

How Long Should Blanket Time Be?

You will start with just a few minutes. It could be as short as two minutes. You eventually want to work up to about 30 minutes.

What Do I Do If My Child Gets Off the Blanket?

This will probably happen. It will probably happen initially as you start blanket time if your child is mobile. It will probably also happen as your child gets older and is in a boundary-testing age.

When your child leaves the blanket, you put your child back. This is why you need to stay close and why you need to be doing something that can be interrupted immediately.

  • Put your child on the blanket
  • Verbally tell your child to stay on the blanket
  • Repeat as needed

Even if your child just puts one hand or foot off the blanket, fix it. That is your child testing the boundary. That test will grow if you ignore it.

Remember to use a timer for blanket time. The timer will tell your child when this will end. This teaches your child the timer, not the tears, ends blanket time.

Keep the time short so the blanket doesn’t feel like a punishment.

Expect that you will have good days and bad days. There might be the random day your child just isn’t feeling blanket time. If that seems to be the case, you can always alter the time left on the timer and shorten it.

How Often Should I Do Blanket Time?

Consistency is always key. The more consistent you are with this, the more your child will like it. A predictable routine is always preferable.

Try to make it a part of everyday. Go for at least 2-3 times a week as discussed in the books, but 4-5 times (or 7!) a week will give you more consistency.

Once a day should work, but as you are training, you might do 2 minutes 2-3 times a day.

Where Should I Do Blanket Time?

Do it wherever it makes sense for you. This could be your living room, the kitchen, your bedroom, the toy room…whatever makes sense is a great spot.

You will want to be able to use this outside the home eventually, so it is a great idea to move around the house so your baby gest used to doing blanket time wherever she is.


Ultimately, here is my take on blanket time. Take blanket time and make it what you see your toddler in need of. Does your toddler need help learning boundaries? Does he lack some focusing skills? Do you have a need for blanket time in situations such as church? Use blanket time as needed in your home.

I like the use of blanket time as a time to teach parameter skills. I consider it a structured playtime situation. Again, use blanket time as you see fit for your child and your family’s situation.

This post originally appeared on this blog in April 2009

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36 thoughts on “Blanket Time Full Guide: Teach Baby to Sit Still”

  1. My boy is 6 months and we do playpen time and blanket time. Just an observation: I can’t do them both in the same wake period because both are independent play. After his playpen time he doesn’t want more time on the blanket by himself. Don’t forget that timers can help train them too!

  2. I need to some tips on how to start independent play time. My 14.5 month old always wants me to play with him the whole time he is awake. It is so hard to get anything done. I have used a playpen in the past and all he does is stand there and scream. I am due in June with baby #2 and I really want him to be more independent. Also, any tips for CIO with the new baby? I am afraid the baby will wake my toddler.(So far my toddler has been a great sleeper) Thanks so much! Your blog is so helpful!Shawna

  3. Did BW with my first…but you’re right…I never heard of blanket time. With my first…he was never allowed in the kitchen. Something we started implementing when he started rolling/crawling. he would just stand at the of the kitchen and never enter it. It was pretty cool. My 2nd is 6 wks old this Thurs and I will do blanket time when she is a toddle. Thanks, as always, for sharing!

  4. I can use some help with naptimes. I have a 4 year old, 2 year old and 5 1/2 month old. The 4 year old and 2 year old share a room. For naps, I split them up, the younger one was in our room in the pack and play. Now he has figured out how to crawl out of the pack and play and getting him to stay in it is a power struggle. I will take any advice I can get, what would you do in this situtation? Thanks for your blog! It has been a help and great to see how others use Babywise!

  5. Hmmm…never heard of Blanket Time and honestly, I love Playpen Time and Room Time so much, I don’t know that I need Blanket Time all that much. LOL

  6. I’m so glad you made this post. I was about to reread the -wise books actually because I saw a lot of moms doing it at 8 months and Tobias is 10 months already. But I never remembered reading about it, lol! I felt so dumb, haha! We’ve been doing playpen time for a long time and that’s gone well but I’m still undecided on blanket time. Tobias is just starting to move so i suppose this would be the time to start. I’ll have to think about that, but this post helps a bit to clarify the purpose and origination of blanket time 🙂

  7. We are very fortunate to live near the Ezzo’s and they taught us our Toddler wise class. They recommended starting blanket time before babies are mobile, just like playpen time. Start with 5 min once a day and use the timer. Work up from there. I however forgot to incorporate it and so we started blanket time after my first was already mobile and had to put it to rest for awhile as it was a huge battle. She then began to do blanket time very successfully at 2yrs and it has been most helpful in other life situations. For example if we are at someone else’s home I can instruct her to play within a rug’s boundaries while we visit and she will obey. I will start BT with my 2nd (now 3mo) as soon as he can sit up and see how he does if those boundaries are placed before he becomes mobile 🙂 This is the same time alot instruction begins in the high chair etc and baby is still very interested in pleasing Mom so tons of praise!

  8. Atara, That is an excellent point; you don’t want to do two independent playtimes during one waketime period.

  9. Shawna,See the blog label “independent playtime” on the right for help with that. For CIO with new baby, see the CIO blog label. Also see the Baby Whisperer blog label–I didn’t have to do CIO with my third by following Hogg’s 4 S’s. As far as specifics with your toddler/baby, I would need to know your sleeping situation as far as will they share a room, rooms next to each other, etc.

  10. Thanks Connie! If you start it before they can move, I can see that it would be “just what we do” rather than a new battle.I agree that there are a lot of possible benefits for blanket time–most of them when you are out of your home! It can make church and visiting friends much easier.

  11. Hi, I'm a big proponent of babywise and books that follow it! It's great to see such a comprehensive blog as yours that encourages and helps parents to understand and implement it! I just wanted to pass along a website that I developed with mom that lends itself to some great 'structured time' activities for newborn to five year olds that you and/or your readers may find useful. If you like what you see feel free to ahre! Great to have crossed paths with you in the journey of parenting we're on! Emily

  12. Just ran across your site as I was doing a google search on structured play. Oh how I wish I had found it sooner. Love it! I have done all the -wise books and love them. My daughter (who is currently 12 months old) was sleeping through the night at 3 months, and just weaned from her bottle quickly and easily. But now that she is more mobile, we are having trouble with boundaries and trying to get into "Mommy and Daddy's things." She isn't responding too well to "Don't touch" or "Not for Morgan" or "stop" or "no." I know she is just learning all this, and she is just trying to explore her world, but it's wearing me out. I wanted to incorporate blanket time to teach boundaries. I have read a lot about why to do it and such, but not the legistics of HOW to teach them. I am struggling with how to teach her to stay on the blanket. Any suggestions? Or can you direct me to a spot on your blog that would help? Thanks!

  13. Hi. I left a few comments on a couple posts relating to playtimes, and I have not heard back. I totally understand that life gets hectic and you have tons to read through, so I am in no hurry. But I wanted to make sure you got them. Thanks!

  14. My daughter is 13 months. She does 45 minutes independent play each morning (and could go longer). We do learning time, free time and outside play each day. She's VERY mobile and always on the move. She's also a strong willed child. Recently we have been struggling with her attention span. Her naps are getting shorter and thus she has more free play. I'm planning to implement blanket time to help. But how long is a reasonable attention span at this age. I have a hard time getting her to sit for even 5 minutes. What is a reasonable goal to work towards?

  15. I also have a question about blanket time. My daughter is only 7 months old, but she's crawling like a mad woman and wants to go EVERYWHERE! She knows what "no" means, but she seems to gravitate towards things she shouldn't touch. I just ordered the Babywise II book, but I just read that blanket time isn't in that one. I seriously need to start asap…is there any instruction you can give as to how to implement blanket time? Or any other online resources? thanks!

  16. Morgan Joy, I am so sorry! I really do not get notified of your comments for some reason. I have told you this on another post, but wanted to reiterate, when you have questions, I think you should ask on the current post of the day. There will be other people commenting that I get notified of so I will see your post. Just tell me which posts you have read so I don't send you to one you already read.

  17. Brandon & Kelly,I am not realy sure what would be reasonable for her age to sit and focus on one thing. Blanket time would help with that. I would think that at her age, 10-15 minutes is reasonable. Once she reaches that, you can see if you can add more time. I think Blanket Time will be a good answer for you in building this up. Take it slowly. She will get there.

  18. Angie, I would use a timer. Put your baby on the blanket along with a few toys. Tell her to stay on the blanket and use your finger to outline the boarder of the blanket. Tell her she can get off when the timer gets off.Then be prepared to put her on over and over and for her to be frustrated. Start with two minutes. When she crawls off, put her back on and tell her she needs to stay on the blanket. When the timer goes off, tell her good job, kiss her, etc. Once she can stay for two minutes, add some time. Goodluck!

  19. Dear Valerie, i hope you get to read this and hope that you would give me some advice. Or maybe someone out there who has experience with this who can offer some advice. I am getting desperate. This is related to blanket time. How do i manage crawling baby. Is there a post that deals specifically on this? My problem is I would like to know whether it is a good practice to allow baby to crawl freely in the living room. If so, then how can i implement blanket time? Wouldn't the baby get confused to know when he can crawl freely and when he is supposed to stay within the blanket? If the baby is trained to stay in the blanket, would he then stop practicing crawling? Would that be developmental detrimental to him? Does that mean that when i would like to allow baby to practice crawling freely in the living room, i should take off the blanket? And when I want him not to crawl freely, i should take out the blanket? This is an urgent request, as my baby is now approaching 8 months, and he is very motivated to crawl "long distance".

  20. Elaine, Is your living room carpeted? If so, then I would just put him down on the carpet when it is okay to crawl around and on a blanket when you want blanket time. Some people use just one specific blanket for blanket time and other blankets for other things. You instruct him to stay on the blanket when it is blanket time, and don't when it is not.

  21. Hi, I have been reading On Becoming Babywise II and it talks about blanket time in a little more detail before moving on to playpen time. It starts om pg 81 just in case anyone is interested.

  22. Thanks Empresstra. That is in the new version of BW II that just came out last year. The older version doesn't talk about it at all. Thanks for pointing out the page number.

  23. Hi Val,How do you recommend avoiding power struggles when teaching blanket time? I need to start this with my strong-willed 20 month old son, but anticipate a huge battle/tantrum with a lot of crying when repeatedly putting him back on the blanket. Do I discipline for the tantrum the way I normally would with a time out? Or just battle through his tantrum/struggles to run away until the timer goes off? Thanks in advance for any advice you may have!

  24. I’d love some advice on blanket time with my 21mo son. We did play pen time starting at five months and it was wonderful! I switched over to blanket/chair (he has a PB kids chair) time last month bc he was outgrowing the playpen. At first he did great sitting there and having his morning snack and playing just like playpen time, but now all he does is try to get up and run away. I’ve stalled out at 9 min bc it is a constant battle! Any tips for us both not to get frustrated? I pull out toys and books he doesn’t always have, but he just wants to run away from me. We are also going through a tough terrible 2 phase, so I’m dying to have some morning time of peace!

  25. I just started blanket time this week with my 13 month old and it is going well. We do it 2-3x a day for 10-15 mins a time for her to get used to it since I didn’t start it early. So far it’s going better than i expected but one thing is that she keeps pulling the blanket edges and not leaving the blanket alone lol she has her toys but for some reason wants to play with the blanket. I have been telling her ‘that’s a no’ and putting it back and then redirecting her to a toy on the blanket but she keeps doing It. Is it just a testing boundary issue or is there a tip you have to stopping this? I’m assuming I shouldn’t let her play with the blanket itself ..

    • I don’t think I would care if she played with the blanket as long as she stayed on the blanket.

      If you feel like she shouldn’t do it, I would just be consistent about not letting her, but I would give her the blanket at another time so she can check it all out.

  26. Is 22 months too late to start blanket time? We’ve never done independent playtime at all (which I regret) but now that we have a second baby I need my toddler to be able to leave me in peace when I look after the baby. He also won’t sit still at church or the doctors etc which stresses me out if I have to drag him along to appointments. Is there a different way to teach him to sit still at appropriate times?
    He’s (mostly) potty trained so what do you do if they say they need to go toilet during blanket time?

    • You can definitely start blanket time at this age. If he needs to go potty, have him tell you that and you can take him or tell him to go.

      Something else you can do is have him sit still on a chair without talking and set a timer. Start small with around 30 seconds, but slowly increase the time as he gets better so he will do it for 2 minutes. Require him to stay on the chair, sitting, and not say anything. Anytime he gets off the chair, talks, or does something on the chair you aren’t okay with (like standing up), reset the timer. It is hard at first, but they get better fast and it helps them learn HOW to sit still and HOW to be quiet.


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