"Sittervising" Is Trending: Here’s Why It’s Good for You and Baby

Branded as the "opposite of helicopter parenting" experts tout the developmental benefits of stepping back and letting baby play on their own.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Updated September 22, 2022
two toddlers playing while parents sit on the couch and watch them
Image: Santi Nuñez | Stocksy

“Sittervising” is the new hot parenting hack. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you’ll most likely come across the term on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook soon. Susie Allison, the owner of the popular Busy Toddler Instagram page, got the Sittervising talk started with a recent viral post to her page.

What is sittervising?

SIttervising, Allison explains, is the act of sitting down while supervising your children. “You do not need to hover over kids while they play OR feel like you absolutely must be playing with them at all times,” Allison says in her video caption. “Kids need play without adults. Adults need time to recharge from kids.”

Not necessarily a revolutionary idea, many parents in the comments talked about how it often isn’t easy to sittervise for fear of their child getting hurt, bored or upset. “Being a peds ICU nurse, I struggle with this. It’s hard for me to step away as I’m afraid that my daughter (2.5-years-old) might hurt herself or something bad could happen,” one mom shared. Another chimed in, “While I like this concept, it doesn’t really work with only children. If I’m just sitting there, she’s wanting a buddy to play with.” Outside of worrying about their child, many caregivers talked about how they felt guilty when not constantly engaging with their little ones.

How does sittervising help you and baby?

Despite the guilt and anxiety that comes with sittervising, experts do say this trend is actually helpful for both parents and baby. More commonly known as solitary play, experts say sitting back and allowing your child to play without you helps baby learn essential developmental skills.

“Solitary play helps with being comfortable alone, with personal self-expression without an audience or partner,” says Jephtha Tausig, PhD, a New York City-based clinical psychologist. “It balances the experiences children have with others.”

“Solitary play is often the best opportunity for children to develop higher level thinking brain pathways—problem solving, persistence, planning ahead, organizing and creativity,” says Donna M. Volpitta, EdD, founder of The Center for Resilient Leadership. “Solitary play gives them time to wonder and think about their world. When they are constantly engaged in activities that are coached or guided, they do not have the opportunity to develop these skills.”

Outside of all the benefits for baby, sittervising allows time for parents to take a moment for themselves. Whether that time is spent doing self-care in the form of a face mask or spent answering emails and completing household duties, sittervising can help add minutes or hours back into your day, so you are less likely to burn out.

Tips for Sittervising

So how can you effectively sittervise? Sometimes it can be a little more difficult than just taking a step back. Experts recommend that parents can begin sittervising anytime between 6-8 months, or when baby can sit up and hold things unaided.

Find a contained, safe space for baby to play, like a playard or secure room. If they are old enough, give your child simple toys like blocks or pots and pans that encourage creativity. For toddlers and up, Allison provides a slew of fun sittervising activities to try. However, you choose to sittervise, it’s important to always monitor the safety of your child from a distance.

If you want to learn more about solitary play and how to encourage it, check out this expert advice.

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