Blanket Time Full Guide

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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. 

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. 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 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. 

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

Blanket Time Benefits

There are many benefits to Blanket Time, 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

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


Blanket Time in Action

You can start blanket time at any age. 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. 

Conclusion

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.

A simple way to get your little one to sit in one place with a picture of a baby on her tummy on a blanket

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valplowman
valplowman

Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

28 Comments

  1. atara
    April 20, 2009 / 5:09 PM

    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. Shawna
    April 20, 2009 / 5:35 PM

    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. LC
    April 20, 2009 / 5:39 PM

    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. The McDowells
    April 20, 2009 / 8:19 PM

    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. Angela
    April 21, 2009 / 8:16 PM

    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. Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias
    April 21, 2009 / 8:57 PM

    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. Connie
    April 22, 2009 / 1:42 AM

    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. Plowmanators
    May 7, 2009 / 6:55 PM

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

  9. Plowmanators
    May 7, 2009 / 6:57 PM

    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. Plowmanators
    May 7, 2009 / 6:57 PM

    You are welcome LC!

  11. Plowmanators
    May 7, 2009 / 8:20 PM

    Angela, you certainly don’t have to use anything you don’t want to 🙂

  12. Plowmanators
    May 7, 2009 / 8:20 PM

    Thanks Amanda. I am glad I am not the only one to have missed it! lol

  13. Plowmanators
    May 7, 2009 / 8:23 PM

    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.

  14. Emily
    July 1, 2009 / 1:26 AM

    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. http://www.productiveparenting.com 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

  15. Plowmanators
    July 23, 2009 / 8:58 PM

    Thanks Emily! I will check it out.

  16. Morgan Joy
    August 10, 2009 / 9:33 PM

    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!

  17. Morgan Joy
    August 21, 2009 / 9:41 PM

    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!

  18. Brandon & Kelly
    September 21, 2009 / 7:09 AM

    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?

  19. angie
    September 29, 2009 / 4:01 PM

    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!

  20. Plowmanators
    October 9, 2009 / 3:32 AM

    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.

  21. Plowmanators
    October 9, 2009 / 3:34 AM

    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.

  22. Plowmanators
    October 9, 2009 / 3:37 AM

    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!

  23. Elaine
    October 26, 2009 / 9:19 PM

    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".

  24. Plowmanators
    November 29, 2009 / 11:44 PM

    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.

  25. empresstra
    March 10, 2010 / 5:48 PM

    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.

  26. Plowmanators
    March 25, 2010 / 9:59 PM

    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.

  27. Jen P
    December 7, 2012 / 1:28 AM

    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!

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