Creating “Yes” Spaces

Creating “Yes” Spaces

“Yes” spaces are a place within your home (or outdoor space) that are set-up specifically for your baby or toddler to explore freely without hearing “no, don’t touch that!”. It goes beyond child-proofing to building an inviting space for your child to explore and play self-directed. So while “yes” spaces are designed to be 100% safe for your baby or toddler, they are also made to encourage play, curiosity and expression. “Yes” spaces were made popular by the teachings of Magda Gerber and the RIE community (Resources for Infant Educarers). This practice is very much a part of Montessori and Reggio Emilia teachings and can be implemented for every age (with some modification).

The Benefits

Encouraging and fostering independent exploration and focus can begin as early as birth. Self-directed play allows babies to explore their interests and environment and begin developing, at their own pace and interest, foundational motor and cognitive skills. In addition, creating “yes” spaces for babies and toddlers provides them the benefits of:

  • Safety!
  • Fostering independence of movement and play
  • Reduced frustration for parent and baby at frequent redirection or removal
  • A sense of calm and curiosity for your baby knowing their space is open to full exploration
  • Fostering focus through uninterrupted play
  • Self-confidence through choice, trust and uninhibited exploration

Key Considerations

Remove all safety concerns (cover outlets, remove curtain cords, ensure furniture is secure, ensure plants are out of reach, no sharp edges present etc.) get low to the ground to observe the space from your child’s vantage point and have another adult do a safety check.

  • Consider how to enclose the space - ensuring it is truly safe for full exploration
  • For older babies and toddlers, consider child-sized furniture
  • Consider if you can build a “yes” space outdoors
  • Include safe, age-appropriate open-ended toys and items for their exploration
  • Consider rotating the toys to keep the space uncluttered and add renewed interest
  • Try to keep the space uncluttered to allow your child to focus on the few quality items within the space
  • Allow them time to explore independently
  • Observe your child in the space noticing what they are most interested in
  • Adjust safety and play objects as your child grows

Our Favorite “Yes” Space Inspo

“How to Create a "Yes” Space Outdoors” by Janet Lansbury (one of our fav podcast and content creators for parents)

“Play Space Inspiration” by Janet Lansbury (again we just love her)



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