Defined: a “yes space” is an area of space in your home where a baby can explore safely with limited direct supervision (aka the place you put the baby to play while you use the bathroom and is safe from siblings, family pets, or the automated vacuum).
We see so much about Montessori-based education and there are many benefits but one easy way to add value to your baby’s play is by offering them a space of their own for free exploration.
Otherwise known as a “yes” space.
What Is It?
Many parents feel like this is achieved by “baby proofing” or adding safety features to every space in the house. While this feels like an effective way to allow babies to explore, it isn’t necessarily the best way to allow for exploration and learning.
Instead, a “yes” space is a designated space where baby has free reign to explore and that play doesn’t require direct supervision or support from a caregiver. This seems unsafe but read more about how to build an area that will allow baby to build important skills and you to step away for a few minutes.
Ok, at first it seems implausible to find space in your house to devote to baby. But it’s so worth it! For our first baby we lived in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment and while it felt initially like we were taking up needed space, it worked out that it was closest to the window/door to outside.
The Benefits of a “Yes Space”
Having the “yes” space was so helpful in the morning when we were getting ready to head out the door to daycare – baby was safe and Mom had a few extra minutes to gather the bags etc.
Less anxiety, stress from being redirected constantly
Experience uninterrupted play leading to trial/error practice
Parents have less stress from constantly monitoring their baby for short periods of time
When Should You Set Up The “Yes Space”?
Another question often asked is “when do you set up the space?” The answer is when your baby is mobile or you feel like it would help the family dynamic.
A baby could explore using rolling, belly crawling or crawling on their hands/knees which can happen anytime from 6 months to before they start walking by themselves.
Another common question is “how is this different from a pack and play or smaller playpen?” That’s exactly the difference: size. For baby to truly explore using movement they really need to be able to crawl across a small but moderately sized area.
In a smaller playpen, they get bored easily and then it defeats the purpose – mom and dad are more stressed hearing the baby ask to be escaped (ie crying or tantrums).
Maximize Your Space
All you truly need is a barrier for your space but here are some ideas to maximize your “yes space”:
To keep the ground soft grab some mats like these:
Kelsey Daniels is a mama of two, wife, and physical therapist who works with pregnant/postpartum mamas and babies in their homes. She loves to share information that supports parents in the early years and especially supports mama’s as they navigate self-advocacy. After their first baby, Kelsey and her husband realized they wanted to try out the desert life and moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Las Vegas valley. Kelsey and her family are always in search of adventure but also value relaxing time at home. A passion for her family, movement opportunities for all as a physical therapist, and easy beauty hacks helped shape her blog as it looks today.