Many people assume that newborns just sleep and eat all day. While this does take up a lot of their day, there’s a good deal of time in between where you’ll want to engage your baby in playtime. They may be too young to stack blocks or play with toy cars, but there’s plenty of activities that you can do together that will lead to the nurturing and education of your baby. Let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for engaging your newborn in playtime.
What Age Should You Start?
If your child is able to open their eyes and engage their senses, this is the time to start playtime. Playtime at this age is much more about connection than it is teaching your child to do something. Singing your child a lullaby will result in them turning their head and looking at you. They’ll need to focus their eyes on the stuffed animal that you’re holding over them. Before long, your child will start to babble back at you as their form of communication. In other words, don’t feel like you have to wait for a sign to begin playtime. There’s plenty you can do within that first month of birth.
Sit with your baby on your lap or propped up on your legs. You can talk with them, sing to them, tell them a story or be silly. This form of play will help them develop neck strength as they try to move their head or hold it up for longer periods of time. The physical contact that you’ll share during this time will also help with bonding. A baby needs to feel like they are safe and can trust their parent in order to grow.
Tummy time is something you can start after your baby is a couple of months old. They sell some really wonderful play mats that are perfect for tummy time. Start out short, with just a few minutes of tummy time at a time. When your baby starts to get fussy or doesn’t want to try holding their head up anymore, then it’s time to flip them back onto their backs. You can play with the items that are hanging over them on the play mat, teach them to engage some of the musical toys that may be included and you can talk to your baby while doing this. Babies are usually in a semi-reclined position. It’s a good idea to get them into different positions that will keep them working their muscles.
Doing Chores ‘Together’
As a new mom, there’s going to be a lot of things that you need to get done around the house. Washing all those sleepers, folding sheets, disinfecting bottles and nipples and cleaning up toys around the house can take up a big chunk of your day. Rather than placing your baby in a swing or on the floor while you get things done, you can wear them on your body using a baby carrier. Baby carriers are convenient when you’re going to a store or to the park with your older children, but they can also work well around the house. While you do your chores, show your child different items. Let them feel different textures, and it’s important to keep talking to them. Children who are spoken to from a young age, tend to speak earlier than children who were not engaged often.
Go for a Walk
Chances are, you want to get out of the house for a bit. Your baby could also use some fresh air, providing that the weather is acceptable outside. Bundle up your baby, strap them in the stroller and go for a long walk. Your baby will be engaged by the sounds of the birds chirping, cars driving by, the wind blowing gently across their skin and you can talk to them as you walk.
Gently take hold of your baby’s hands, feet and legs. Move them in different motions to help them stretch their body. This will also help them build up strength. Pedaling the legs of a newborn can help get their digestive system moving. If you have a gassy or colicky baby, this is a tip you’ll want to keep in your back pocket!
Put on some of your favorite tunes, or put on a playlist of baby-themed songs. Dance around your house, and get your baby moving to the music. Music on a daily basis is very important for brain development. As you move around, your baby will notice more and more as they get older.
It’s easy to neglect playtime with your newborn. After all, they’re pretty immobile during that first year. But, just talking and singing with your child is stimulating enough that their brain will develop and grow as it should. Enjoy these days. Before long, you’ll be asked to come up with elaborate stories and play confusing games that require all of your attention.