You have your baby, and you know the practical side of taking care of them- changing their diapers, feeding them, and letting them sleep often. But what about when their needs have been taken care of? How do you entertain a newborn? Keep reading to find great tips on playing with a newborn!
Sing to Them
Your baby knows your voice well. Since around 27-29 weeks of pregnancy, they have been able to hear your voice. They know that your voice means safety and love. Singing can provide comfort to both you and your baby when stressed, help them develop language skills, and expand your baby’s attention span.
If you don’t feel in a sing-songy mood, try humming with your baby’s head to your chest and letting them feel the vibrations.
Tummy time for newborns offers them a chance to build muscle in their neck and upper body and can prevent flat head syndrome. Tummy time counts as whenever your baby is in a position where their tummy is on or pointing towards the floor and should be done every day.
You can provide opportunities for tummy time by laying your baby on you so that you are both chest to chest, holding your baby in your arms with their belly pointing down, and by laying them on their backs then gently rolling them onto their bellies. When you roll them, hold their thighs and aim for the rolling movement to start at the hips. This can help teach them to roll on their own when they have enough strength.
Most everything is sensory play for your newborn, but you can still provide them with a little more structure during their playtime. There are so many ways to give your baby different stimulation in sensory input, but here are a few easy ways to get started:
Fabric textiles: go around your house and gather different fabric textures- towels, silks, cotton, etc. Then when your baby is feeling playful, let them explore the difference in how the fabrics feel. You can rub the fabric on their skin, and explain if the texture is soft, smooth, or rough.
Bath time: getting cleaned up is not the only benefit that a bath can provide. It can be a relaxing experience for your baby, as they may feel like they are floating in the amniotic fluid as they once were. It can also offer up a chance for bonding and skin-to-skin contact if you wish to join your baby.
Get outside: Take your new baby for a stroll outside to the park, or take a relaxing break in your backyard. Listen to the songs of birds and the breeze in the trees. Bringing your baby outside during the day can also help them learn the difference between day and night. In the womb, it was always dark and the movements of your walking probably rocked them to sleep often. They would rouse when you rested, like when you laid down for bed. Because of this pattern, newborns can often have a hard time going to sleep at night.
Allowing your baby to see their reflection in the mirror has many benefits, like developing their visual senses and self-awareness. You can incorporate mirror play into tummy time or face them outward while standing in front of a mirror. Make expressive faces and see how they react.
You can also use the mirror to point out their facial features and use it as an opportunity to build upon their language skills.
Black and White Contrast Cards
Another way to help with your baby’s vision development is with black and white contrast cards. Newborns have a short field of vision, only being able to focus on things about 8-10 inches away from their face, the perfect distance to be able to see you when holding them. Black and white contrast cards are easy to focus on for a newborn and can stimulate their visual senses.
You can place them on the floor while they do tummy time or place them on a mobile. As your baby gets older, try holding the contrast cards in front of their face and moving them around slowly. This can help them develop visual tracking skills.
When a baby is in the womb, they are comfortably squished in the confines of the uterus. Their arms and hands near their face and their knees tucked to their bellies, kicking to stretch and change position.
It can take some time for them to get used to the wide-open world after birth. You can help them stretch out by giving your baby your finger, and once they have grasped on, gently stretch their arms out to the sides and back in. Do this a few times while talking or singing to them.
After helping them stretch their arms, you can move down to their legs. Grab ahold of their feet and begin doing bicycle kicks with one leg stretching down, while the other leg is bent at the knee. Slowly cycle their feet in rotation. This movement can help ease gas pains and can help them develop a mental map of their body.
While playing with a newborn may feel one-sided for a while, it is still important in helping them explore their new world.
For more tips on engaging with your baby, contact us today!
Dakota Collins is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two precious little girls who is passionate about freedom in pregnancy and childbirth.
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