3 Skills You Need For Newborn Baby Play

Newborn Baby Play

Not sure what to do with your baby when she’s not sleeping or feeding? Playtime at this stage is relatively simple.

The newborn stage can be a daunting one for parents. There’s a glut of information and advice about newborn play and early stimulation and it’s easy to get confused about how much, when and what kinds of play are appropriate during this special period. Also, as parents, this is an enormous period of
learning and growth for us and we need to appreciate the lessons we can learn from the newborn stage.

It’s important to remember that for the first six weeks of life, your baby will (hopefully) be sleeping and feeding with not very much awake time in between. Play becomes a natural part of your interaction with your baby and can easily become part of your daily routine. Also, at this stage your baby isn’t interested in the latest toy on the market – her fascination is with you and other people in your home, so it makes play time accessible and consistent.

As moms we all strive for some sense of routine. That’s what the books tell us we need to do and we
feel like it may be the only sense of control we will ever have again. But remember, in the first weeks of life, a baby needs to feel loved, nurtured and supported and this is often not done through following strict routines. At this time, flexibility is key. Yes, it’s hard to do when you have all those daily chores to attend to or plans to make, but this is a shortlived and important stage of your baby’s development that you need to give in to. The more you are able to adapt to your baby’s needs and be present for her, the more settled and content she will be. And don’t worry too much about stimulating play. Right now, the right kind of stimulation may well be having your baby with you in the kitchen while you cook or taking walks in the garden while you water the plants.

It’s worth investing in a good baby carrier so that you can be with your baby while having your hands free for your tasks. These general activities are important playtime as the sensory stimulation of the smells, sights and sounds around her will set the foundation for good sensory awareness and integration. The movement of walking in your arms around the house will also assist with her movement integration, calm state and visual tracking.

Yes, your little one may seem like just a bundle of flailing arms, jerky movements and not much head control, but she is receptive to you and what you have to offer. Play at this stage is focused on your engagement with your baby.

The lesson for you is to be in the moment and connect with your baby. This is an important skill for both of you, as the more connected and understood you and your baby feel, the better it’ll be for her social and cognitive development (and for your emotional wellbeing).

How do you do this?
Just be yourself. Have fun and talk to your baby while you’re changing her nappy and tell her what you are doing every step of the way, tell her about your day, the weather, any visitors you may be expecting or what you think you’ll be having for dinner. Although this may not seem like real
play, the chatting and eye contact with your baby will introduce her to socialising and stimulate her language development. Be sure to also show her your smile, laugh and funny faces to entice her even more.

Allow your baby time to gurgle and coo in response and copy the sounds she ismaking. This will help set the stage for reciprocal play and turn taking.

More than anything, parenting a newborn is about patience. Everything takes time – packing up for a short trip to the shops takes half an hour, burping seems to take a whole night and the days at times seem to have a few extra hours in them.

Having said this, patience during your baby’s awake time allows you to open up to the joy of being in the moment with your baby. When changing your baby have her follow your face from side to side, and when you feed allow her to look at geometric designs or “read” a book together while she suckles. These simple activities will make the routine tasks more interesting for you both. Through it all, keep up the smiling and funny faces, the tickling and the massage, allowing your baby to experience love and joy in her early weeks of life. Before you know it, that long awaited smile from her will be there – a nod from baby that you have done more than just fine in these early days.

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