How to play with your newborn – this isn’t something you’ve likely worried about in the past few weeks. When you have a baby, there are a million things to think about. You have to remember to change them, help them sleep, feed them, love them, cuddle them and take care of them day in and day out. On top of basic survival, it’s important to play with your baby too! Aside from being fun, playing with your newborn gives him/her first-rate access to their very best teacher: you! Newborns learn by playing with their parents; engaging with them helps build confidence, develop social skills and feel loved and happy. Furthermore, playing with your infant encourages brain development and speech development, brings the two of you closer and helps your little one learn about the world around him.
How to Play with Your Newborn
So how do you play with a newborn? Great news – it is super easy. You don’t need any funky supplies or expensive toys to get going; you simply need yourself and your baby, and you’re good to go! Playing with your newborn is less about balls and games and flashing lights and more about going back to the basics: human interaction.
1. Chat with Them
A great way to start play with your newborn is to simply chat with him/her. While that may sound crazy (obviously the baby can’t respond!), research shows that while newborns maybe don’t understand the words we are saying, they do react to the inflection and tone of our voice. Try reciting nursery rhymes to your little one in a sing-songy voice, or reciting poetry in a soft whisper. You might be surprised to hear your baby sound off back to you! Some babies as young as six weeks start responding to the sound of their parents voice; the more often you talk to them, the sooner they should start responding to you!
2. Sing to Them
Another easy way to engage your baby is to sing! It’s okay if you don’t have the best voice; luckily, your baby won’t know the difference ☺ . Try starting with songs you grew up with, songs important in your culture or even a song you love on the radio. Whatever your voice sounds like, the important thing to know is that it is soothing and amazing to your baby, which equates to fun for your little one.
3. Make Silly Faces
When you’re changing your baby’s diaper, engage him/her by making silly faces! Smile, stick out your tongue, cross your eyes and puff out your cheeks. Your baby loves to look at you, and ever-changing face expressions just make it more fun. Other great opportunities for face play include riding in the car, feeding and while you’re sitting on the couch cuddling your baby.
4. Tummy Time for Newborn
If you have a newborn, chances are you’ve heard about the importance of tummy time. Tummy time helps your baby develop strong neck and shoulder muscles and promotes motor skills. An added benefit of tummy time: it’s another version of playtime for your little one and is sure to tire them out!
5. Read to Them
Finally, it is never too early to read to your baby! You can really read them anything, but if you want to really engage them, check out your local library for some infant-friendly books. Newborns can only see about 20-30 cm in front of them, and books specific to infants use big, bold pictures to help engage the baby.
These are just a few ideas of ways to play with your baby, but truly, the possibilities are endless (here is a list of baby activities month to month). Even babies with boundless energy need downtime, so as you play, remember to balance it out with lots of quiet cuddles and downtime.