The Best Hack for Curious and Busy Babies and Toddlers: A YES Space!

Written By

Paige Shiels
October 21, 2021

This article has been reviewed by Nurtured First’s team of child development experts.

It’s so fun to see your baby growing and learning new things every day. It can feel like one day they are this little baby who can’t even support their own head, and the next day they are crawling around your house trying to get into everything. While it is incredible to experience our children learning and growing, this time can also be overwhelming and stressful for parents. 

It’s not easy to keep up with everything we need to do around the house while constantly having to have one eye on our little one. And then, when we are exhausted from this and go to sit down and have a coffee, our little ones are right there wanting to be held and played with. 

Encourage Curiosity

It is developmentally normal for our little ones to be curious. They want to explore the world, and they don’t yet understand what is safe and what is not safe. There are a couple of ways we can encourage their curiosity during this developmental stage. 

We can communicate what is safe and unsafe with them, starting to label this even when our babies are little. We can be direct with our babies about what is a “yes” and what is a “no.” 

“I can’t let you crawl here; it’s not safe. Let me show you why.”

“No, it’s not safe to climb the bookshelf, but YES, you can have a book off the shelf to read.”

Another way we can help our kids explore the world around them is to create spaces in our home that are “yes” spaces. This is an area where our infants and little tots can safely crawl, explore, and investigate the world without being in danger and where we don’t have to say “no” to them. Children need to get curious and investigate, and this space can help them get this need met. 

What does a “yes space” look like?

There are so many different ways you can create a yes space in your home. For some, it might be a spot in the child’s bedroom; for others, it might be in the living room or kitchen. The idea is that this will be a safe space for your child to explore independently and trust that there is nothing that they can get hurt from in this space. 

This space doesn’t have to be anything fancy. 

Some ideas of things you might want to include in your space include furniture the child can use to pull up on if they are at this developmental stage – something soft like a couch or a heavy ottoman, and nothing with sharp corners like coffee tables or cabinets. You might also want to include some of your child’s favourite toys as well as some new things for them to explore – some of the best ‘toys’ come from objects we find around the house! 

The most important thing to consider when creating this space is that you can trust your child to explore independently while watching from a distance – enjoying your hot coffee, reading a book, tidying up, etc. 

Why should you create a “yes space”?

I already shared above that it is developmentally appropriate for children to be curious and explore the world around them, and a “yes space” allows them to do this safely. 

This time we are giving our little ones to be curious and explore can be a great way to encourage independent play skills! Play is essential for a child’s development as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of children. Play allows children to develop new worlds where they are the leader. They can conquer their fears, develop new confidence, learn how to regulate their emotions, and develop critical problem-solving skills in these worlds. 

Play is a joy for kids and is an amazing part of being a child! We can use our child’s “yes space” as an opportunity to set up invitations to play – arranging the environment in a way that invites your child to explore, investigate, touch, and play with objects independently. 

A “yes space” not only gives your child the opportunity to be independent, but it also allows you to have a few minutes to yourself while your little one explores. While you can’t leave them alone, and you still need to be able to keep an eye on them in their space, you can still use this time to sit on the couch with your feet up and drink a hot coffee, read a book, or whatever you need to do to recharge and rest. 

Taking Care of You = Taking Care of Them

Remember that you can’t take care of your child if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Creating a “yes space” provides not only your child with the opportunity they need to explore and get curious, but it also provides you with the time you need to care for yourself and drink your coffee while it’s hot! 

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    Article By

    Paige Shiels
    Paige is an Early Childhood Educator with a passion for supporting children and families. As a Registered Early Childhood Educator with a Bachelor’s degree in Youth and Children’s Studies, Paige has been working with children and families for over 10 years. She has experience in children’s programming, child care centres, and supporting families at early learning centres. At Nurtured First, Paige has been a part of creating resources for parents and supporting families through our online groups and discussions. She loves having the opportunity to help families create deep, meaningful and nurturing relationships with their children. Outside of her professional life, Paige loves spending time with friends and family and travelling to new places.