May 17, 2023

How to support your child’s independence from an early age

Jane Magnani
Jane Magnani
How to support your child’s independence from an early age

It can be so complex for us to accept that our children are growing, gradually becoming more independent and starting to require less from us. However, this process is crucial for their self-image and emotional and social development.

Babies rely on their parents and carers for many different aspects of their care. When they attempt to do things independently, they realise that their voice and actions affect the world around them; this gives them the desire to do even more things for themselves and their confidence and independence blossom.

From an early age, we can support our child’s growing self-confidence by creating opportunities for them to attempt independence. Here are a few things you can try day-to-day:

Let your baby help you with their self-care

Babies are still figuring out their bodies and often overlook their physical needs, such as a runny nose or dirty hands.

  • You can support their understanding of self-care by gently alerting your baby of their needs and inviting them to take care of the issue themselves.

  • When your baby can identify and understand their physical needs and how they can be looked after, they will have made a huge step towards developing independence. 

Baby holding nappy

Let your baby help you with nappy changing

You can give your baby some very small tasks to help them feel like they are part of the nappy change process. For example, hand your baby a packet of wipes, model how to pull them out and encourage your baby to help you by passing you a wipe when needed. Next, ask your baby to hold the clean nappy. Finally, after a nappy change, you can give your baby a washcloth and guide them as they wash their hands.

Dressing and undressing

As your child grows, they will eventually learn to dress and undress themselves. This is great for your little one's independence and development of self-care. But this process starts slowly!

  • A good task for your baby, to begin with, is pulling off their socks.

  • As they grow more confident, you can encourage them to help you at other points – such as unzipping their coats.

Baby taking off socks


To become independent, children need the space and time to practice their new skills.

  • Our patience and encouragement as they learn will help them get the confidence to try new things on their own.

  • Always praise your baby for what they have achieved, even if they have only managed a small part of the task: “Great trying”. “Wonderful job.”

Temperament refers to how your child reacts to emotions such as mood, as well as how they respond to and engage with their surroundings.

  • Children's outcomes are also influenced by how adults and other children respond to them.

  • Positive reinforcement, such as praise, for your child is therefore extremely beneficial to their personal and emotional development.

Child-led play

Child-led and open-ended activities are a very effective way to encourage babies and children to make choices for themselves. Your child engages in play through the fostering of child-led experiences, which supports many areas of child creativity. This necessitates the application of critical and creative thinking as they make decisions about their own directed play.

How to promote Heuristic play:

  • Give your child a mix of safe, everyday objects to explore – or encourage your child to enjoy sand, water, or messy play with your supervision.

  • Allow your baby to lead and choose how objects, toys or materials are used for themselves. As a result, they will soon discover their likes and dislikes and find their way of learning.


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