Ways to play with a newborn
Coming home with a newborn is such a sweet and overwhelming experience! Its fun and exciting every day. You are getting to know your tiny human and they are learning all about you and this big brand new world! Babies sleep A LOT for the first few days home, but once they are more aware and start to stay awake a bit longer each day, it can be hard to find ways to interact and play with them in a safe and stimulating way. As a first time mom, sometimes it can be hard to come up with ways to play with a newborn.
Here are some great ideas to help you engage with your little one. All of them are free, and for most of them you can even stay in your PJ’s! 😉 It will be fun, and your baby will be learning and developing, too!
1. Tour your house
Show your new roomie around! Baby should get to know where he lives. Carry baby for a walk around the house in different rooms. Walk slow and talk to baby about what you can see. Point out items and tell baby what they are. Talk about the rooms and the colors. Talking and describing things to baby in basic terms will help him learn about his surroundings. Also a fun little way to get you off the couch or rocker!
2. Fold laundry
I know.. I know… chores! Ugh.. that’s not play! But hear me out! Ever since Samson was a newborn, I would set him in his bouncer or swing (we have this awesome one by Graco that doubles as a both!) or lay him down with me by the couch wherever I was folding the laundry, and I would make a game of it. Even before he was interested in grabbing, I would touch him with the different clothes and let him feel the different textures. Sometimes I will use a shirt to play peek-a-boo. This is by far my favorite way to fold laundry!
3. Tummy time
Tummy time is a great way to play with a newborn and it is so important for strength and development! Spending time laying on his tummy is great for strengthening his neck muscles and developing the strength for crawling later! Some babies don’t enjoy it much since it can be a bit of a workout. Having a play mat with bright colors or a tummy time wedge pillow with toys attached can be helpful to get baby to enjoy the time and be interested in staying on his belly a little longer. Samson loves his wedge pillow with little toys and music. He loves being on his tummy now, too!
4. Baby exercises
You can lay baby down on your bed or on the floor and sit with him. Hold his hands and move his arms slowly out and in and up and down so he learns how to extend and use all of those muscles. You can also move his legs in bicycle motions or place your hands on the bottom of his feet and apply a little pressure so he pushes your hands back with his legs. These are all great ways to play with a newborn and get the muscles building while having face to face interaction with baby.
5. Play with colors
This is a great way for baby to learn and identify new things. You can use clothes or toys or sheets of colored construction paper, really anything you have at home that is a good size for baby to easily see and in a solid color. You can lay them all out and have baby looking at them during tummy time. You could also sit baby or lay him down and pick up and show him each different color. Wait until you see baby’s eyes lock onto the item before removing it or replacing it. You can talk to him and describe the colors and objects.
6. Learn baby ASL
I love sign language! It is such a beautiful form of communication. It can be a great way for babies to communicate some of their first needs when pre-verbal. Signs for some of the most common things baby needs can be so helpful and a fun way for you and baby to engage and interact early. As you say words like “hungry”, “tired”, “milk”, etc. sign the word along with it so baby learns. Baby sign language is a great resource to help you learn and teach baby! Samson loves to watch me sign the ABC’s as we sing the song! So much fun for you and baby!
7. Play search and find
I guess you could call this the prelude to peek-a-boo! Sit within baby’s line of sight. Use your hand or a brightly colored small toy or rattle to get baby’s attention. Once you see baby look at your hand or the object, then you can tell him good job and move the toy to a different place within baby’s peripheral vision to play again. This is great for baby’s development. We are not born knowing how to look for things or identify where sounds are coming from, so it is important to start forming these associations early on.
8. Listening and identifying sounds
Baby will love to learn new sounds. It will also double as a win for you because as baby gets used to noises and different sounds, he will sleep through them a little better during nap time, too! You can play different noises on your phone, make noises yourself, or run different appliances like the dishwasher or vacuum, and let baby see where they are coming from. Talk to baby about them and maybe even let him participate by banging on something or carrying him while you vacuum.
9. Look in the mirror
Babies love to look at faces! Looking in the mirror can be fun as they try to find the other baby they see and play with him! They also love to look at mama, so its fun to see them find mama with them twice!
10. Go for a walk
This is great, especially if you start to feel a little cooped up on those first few weeks home with your new baby. I love to baby wear when going for a walk with baby because Samson loves to be upright and see everything. Its a great way for me to point things out to him and see what he is seeing. It helps that I love using our Infantino baby carrier. Its easy to set up and lightweight to carry, but allows me to be close enough to kiss Samson on the top of his head.
Teaching baby new things can definitely be fun, mamas! Enjoy the time with your littles! 🙂
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