How to play with a newborn
What your new baby needs to stimulate their growing minds
A newborn, most importantly, needs contact with you. When you’re going about your day with your newborn, talk to them, smile at them, and interact. To help your baby practice focusing and turning their head, you can hold a toy or object close to their face. As you slowly move it, their heads will eventually move to find it.
Your newborn baby is like a little sponge, eager to soak up everything about the world around them. Even though they may only be a couple of weeks old, newborns are hard at work, learning more about you and their new home every minute.
“From reading books to singing songs, your baby may be capable of learning a lot more than you think.”
As a new parent, you’re probably wondering how you can help stimulate your new little one. Here’s a quick overview of everything you need to know about playtime with your newborn.
What do newborns need out of playtime?
Newborns primarily spend their days eating and sleeping. While this can seem like a hamster wheel of a schedule, there is some time in each day that you can spend nourishing your new baby’s mind. Don’t start stressing that you need to start homeschooling your two-week-old.
Newborns, most importantly, need contact with you. Spending time holding your baby, talking with them, singing them songs, and just having them near you as you converse with others will help lay the foundation for the language your child will soon be using.
Newborn play can center around stimulating their little brains and fostering a bond between you and your baby. In those first few weeks and days, playtime should be all about observing the world and strengthening your relationship.
Let their little minds soak up everything they can about you, your family, and their new normal.
What newborns can do
Newborns are capable of a lot more than you may think. Even when a newborn is just a few days old, they are quickly learning where their food source is, how to latch on to a bottle or breast, and who their caregivers are.
Newborns can recognize voices as early as birth. Newborns will start to recognize voices and faces very shortly after they are born.
At birth, newborns can see items that are closer to their faces, and they can also see in black and white. Newborns will be able to turn their heads when they hear your voice eventually, and they may also be able to recognize their name at just a few months old.
Newborns can also lay on their tummies, strengthening their core during tummy time. Eventually, newborns can push onto their elbows and turn their heads to focus on something or someone interesting. The less time they spend in constrained seats, the better, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Interacting with your newborn
“When it comes to playing with your newborn, there are several things you can do to help them learn. While they don’t need flashcards and textbooks, a newborn mostly needs interactions with you to learn. As you all start to learn more about each other, you will learn your baby’s cues and they will learn how you react.”
When you’re going about your day with your newborn, talk to them, smile at them, and interact. It can be enjoyable for both of you to narrate your actions to them. Include some basic sign language in these interactions, as well. Signs for more of something or the sign for milk can make communicating a lot less frustrating for you both as they get older.
The more you talk to your baby, the more language they will absorb. You’ll soon be able to interact with each other, and they will start to mimic your sounds. You can also have them grab your fingers and respond to you when you touch their feet and hands.
Ideas for how to play with newborns
Other ideas for playtime include reading stories and singing songs. Your new baby will hang on every word. Those sweet songs you sing them will soon become the comforting lullabies that help soothe them to sleep.
In terms of toys, newborns can only see black and white at first. Black and white patterns, books, and toys will all be visually attractive to your baby. To help your baby practice focusing and turning their head, you can hold a toy or object close to their face, as you slowly move it, their heads will eventually move to find it.
“It’s important to note that toys should be left out of your newborn’s bed. Keep their crib bare to avoid choking or suffocating.”
Tummy time is also a crucial part of playtime. Tummy time helps newborns strengthen their core and neck muscles. This will eventually help them sit up and crawl. Whenever you’re doing tummy time, make sure to stay close to your baby. It won’t be long before they start to roll over and scoot towards toys.
If your baby has an older sibling at home, you can use this as an opportunity to teach them to pick up their smaller toys so that the baby won’t accidentally pick one up and try to eat it.
Most importantly, enjoy this time interacting and learning more about each other. Any moments spent with your undivided attention is the best part of your newborn’s day.
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