Playing with your newborn
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In the first few months with a new baby, it can be tricky to know what to do with them – when they’re not sleeping or eating! But did you know you can start playing with your little one, right from when they are a tiny newborn and through those first few early months?
Playing together is a great way to strengthen the bond with your baby and to help your baby’s brain development. Make play a regular part of your day with bub – feed, play, sleep is a nice routine to get into with your baby from early on.
Can you really play with a newborn?
Yes, you can! The idea of playing with a newborn may seem strange. But you don’t need toys or fancy equipment. Interacting with you and the world around them is the best way of ‘playing’ for a baby of this age. Remember, everything is new to a baby and what seems a simple activity to you, could be endlessly entertaining to your little one.
How to play with your baby in the first few months:
1. Talking and reading with your baby
It’s often said that it’s never too early to start reading to a baby. Your baby may not understand the words but will love the sound of your voice – and the chance to cuddle with you over a book. There are cloth books and books with texture and sounds that make reading even more fun and surprising for bub.2. Have a sing-a-long
Babies love music and melodies. You don’t have to know lots of songs or be a good singer – nursery rhymes are a great place to start, but if you have trouble remembering the traditional favourites you can make up your own silly songs. Or put on your favourite music and sway along to the music with bub in your living room. Move your baby’s hands and feet in time to the music and you might even get rewarded with a smile or a giggle!3. Tummy time
Putting your baby on his or her tummy for tummy time is important for helping to build up the muscles that will be used to push up, roll, sit, crawl and, eventually, to pull him or herself up (eek!). At first, bub might not be so into tummy time – it’s hard work!
In the early days, you can lay your baby on their tummy across your lap for two or three times a day for just for a few minutes at a time. If bub is on the floor, try rolling a towel to rest under your bub’s chest to support your baby in getting his or her head up. Remember in the early days to keep to just a few minutes at a time, slowly building up the time a little each day as they get stronger. It can also help to get down to baby’s level. A friendly face will help bub to feel encouraged and not so alone down there on the floor. Funny faces, mirrors, rattles and interesting things to look at will also help keep your bub engaged. Or for a different take on tummy time, try resting bub tummy-down on an exercise ball. Make sure you are both comfortable and that baby is held firmly while on the exercise ball, then gently roll the ball backwards and forwards.4. Blowing raspberries and other silly things
Play for a baby really can be as simple as making funny faces, silly sounds or blowing raspberries. Crazy faces and sticking your tongue out are almost guaranteed to bring on that sweet baby laugh – and get you giggling along too. These simple games are the beginning of language development and social skills for your baby.5. Peek-a-boo
Peek-a-boo is a great game to play with your baby. The appeal of hiding your face behind your hands and popping back into view never seems to get old. You can also hide your face behind a tea towel to mix it up. Before you know it, baby will probably want to do the hiding bit too.6. Flying baby
Babies seem to love this one as they get older. Hold your baby firmly and carefully under the arms and slowly lift bub to around head height. Gently and carefully move baby around in the air: look, baby is flying! Whether it is the sensation of flying or getting to see the world from a new perspective, flying baby seems to be a hit with the bubs. This one is not recommended for really young babies – or just after a feed!7. Take your baby outside
Try to get out each day with your baby – even if it’s just a walk to the park. Getting out and about gives baby new things to look at – whether it’s the sky, trees blowing in the breeze or birds at the park. The fresh air and exercise is great for mum too!
Watch your baby for cues and you’ll soon find out which games are his or her favourites. Make eye contact, smile and talk to your baby while you play or just while you are going about your everyday activities. These are great ways to build a strong connection with your baby.
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