How do I play with my newborn?
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
You have just brought your baby home from the hospital and are wondering, "Now what do I do with him?". At this age, your baby will keep you busy with constant feeding, diapers changes, and snuggling. There are some simple ways you can include play and developmental stimulation into these everyday tasks. At this age, play is less about toys and more about interactions and sensory input from you. These simple activities help you to bond with your baby and grow your connection. Many parents do not experience an instant connection at birth and this is completely normal! Your bond will gradually grow over time with your baby.
1. Sing during diaper changes
Your baby loves the sound of your voice. When she hears you, she will try to look and interact with you. Music promotes language development and connection. Babies will often connect and respond to music before they learn to speak. If diaper changes upset your baby, this can be a way to soothe and comfort him during this time. Sing slowly but with expressions as your baby watches your face. If you need some examples of songs there are several listed below or always feel free to make up your own!
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
You are My Sunshine
Itsy, Bitsy Spider
This Little Piggy
2. Massage after bath
Infant massage is known to help soothe baby, improve sleep, aid in muscle development, and help with gas. Doing gentle massages to the hands and feet is another way you can promote bonding with your baby. After bath time you can make it a natural part of your baby's routine. Baby is already undressed and ready for a massage after bath. Start in a quiet, warm place. You can use a dry bath towel to keep your baby warm while you are massaging one area. Keep eye contact with baby and smile. If you notice your baby is not responding well by stiffening, turning away, or crying then stop and try again another time. Look for a local infant massage class to learn safe and proper techniques.
3. Talk in silly voices
Using silly voices or baby talk is good for your baby! Babies are drawn to baby talk and enjoy it. It has been shown that baby talk helps your baby learn to communicate. Talk to your baby during everyday activities to help build and develop communication skills. Opportunities to talk to them about what you are doing include when you are bathing or dressing your baby, when you are making a bottle, or when you are putting them in their car seat to go.
4. Start tummy time on your chest
Tummy time is important to start from day one when baby is born. This helps to develop tummy time as part of daily routine. When your baby is little, one way to do tummy time is on your chest. At this age, your baby is soothed by being close to you and is more motivated to look at you then at toys. It is not easy yet for baby to lift and hold his head up, so being on your chest gives your baby some motivation to look up towards your face. Babies at this age do not have good vision and it is important to be close to their face for them to see you. Doing tummy time on your chest achieves this! While your baby is on your chest, it is the perfect time to sing and talk to your baby to bond. Make sure your baby's arms are under his shoulders to help support him pushing up.
5. Put toys overhead to hit
Even though babies at this age are not "playing" with toys, they are still learning from them. Starting around 6 weeks, babies will start to bat or swipe at toys on purpose to interact with them. These early on movements help your baby learn to reach and work on motor planning to figure out how far and with what power is needed to reach a toy. This is the foundation of playing and interacting with toys. Using a playmat with overhead, have some toys at varying positions within baby's reach. At this age, using toys with contrasting colors (black/white) is helpful to stimulate vision development. Contrasting toys have been shown to attract baby's attention for longer periods of time, soothe baby, and help to develop her nervous system. One of my favorites is the Lovevery play gym!* A play gym is one of the best investments I made as a parent.
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