Welcoming a new baby into the family is one of the greatest joys parents can ever have. As cute as these little angels are, they are not perfect. Not yet. Infant stimulation is necessary for optimum newborn development. After all, child development psychologists say newborn stimulation activities hold the key to healthy infant growth and development.
Unfortunately, many first-time parents are unsure about how to interact with newborns or how to entertain a newborn. Many are afraid they might hurt their babies. Psychologists say the best activity for stimulating newborns is by playing with them. Play is the child’s way to develop, learn, bond, and ensure overall well-being. Here are ten tips on how to play with a newborn.
10 Tips for New Parents on How to Play with a Newborn
1. Play Peek-a-Boo
One of the most popular and fun baby games, peek-a-boo does more than strengthen your bond with your newborn. It is also one of the best infant stimulation activities that develop the baby’s emotional, linguistic, social, and thinking skills. Playing peek-a-boo is one of the most crucial steps to developing object permanence, allowing babies to understand abstract concepts as they grow.
4. Listen to Music with Different Tunes and Melodies
If you wonder how to play with your newborn, you can try playing your favorite song on the stereo. You can also improvise by beating a plastic drum with chopsticks or creating a tune or melody by puffing your cheeks. Some parents can whistle through a candy wrapper. Listening to music stimulates babies’ sensory perception, laying the groundwork for optimum cognitive development.
A walk does not have to be at the park. A neighborhood walk with your baby in a stroller is enough to provide newborn visual stimulation, encourage sensory processing, and promote cognitive development. It is also a chance for your baby to explore their surroundings, complete with sounds, sights, and smells different from those at home.
7. Tickle Your Newborn Gently
If you often ask yourself ‘how should I play with my newborn?’, tickling them will produce the most infectious laugh worthy of a spot on TikTok. Nothing is more precious than hearing your baby giggle and showing a wide smile. It is a moment worth cherishing forever and can help develop your baby’s emotional and social skills.
It’s a little early for your baby to read a J. K. Rowling or Dan Brown bestseller. However, when it comes to reading to your baby, it isn’t the content that matters, but your voice, tone, and the chance to cuddle your newborn. You can always pick children’s storybooks if you find novels too heavy to read. The images, colors, and shapes should also stimulate your baby’s brain.
What do you do with a newborn when they are awake?
You can do many things with your infant when they are awake. For example, you can give them infant toys to promote cognitive, visual, tactile, and auditory development. The activity can also facilitate gross motor development and muscle strength, depending on the toys you use.
Ideally, you will want to use toys appropriate for your baby’s sensory play age. For example, rattles, shatterproof crib mirrors, textured toys, and musical toys are perfect for up to two-month-old infants.
Two-week-old babies can start to make eye contact with their parents, recognize their voices, and respond to sounds. You can engage in play activities that stimulate your baby’s visual, tactile, and auditory development. So, what kind of stimulation does a newborn need?
You can put colorful toys and child-safe objects with contrasting patterns in front of the infant as visual stimulation. Experts also recommend playing soft melodies in the background while talking to your baby softly and calmly. You can make funny faces and sounds as you play with your baby.
It would be wise to remember that tactile stimulation newborn activities are essential for optimum cognitive development. You can offer soft and textured toys. It also helps to touch your baby gently because this also develops their sensory perception.
Learning how to play with a newborn when awake requires appreciating the value of tummy time. Place your 2-week-old baby on its tummy to strengthen their shoulder and neck muscles when playing.
What should be a newborn’s daily routine?
A newborn’s daily routine consists of sleeping (about 16 hours), feeding (about six to eight times), and playing and cuddling, all within 24 hours.
Newborns sleep about two to three hours with each sleep cycle, stirring for about 40 minutes before resuming sleep. Babies tend to wake up two to three times to feed at night. However, it is not uncommon to see fluctuations in the newborn’s sleep pattern.
Feeding time not only supports the baby’s nourishment but is also a crucial time for newborn cuddling and parent-infant bonding. Cuddling is the best form of tactile stimulation. It can also offer the newborn visual and auditory stimulation when the mother looks into her baby’s eyes and makes cooing, soft sounds.
We recommend sticking out your tongue, smiling, and making funny faces if you want to play with a newborn after feeding. You can also use your baby’s favorite toy for them to follow or focus on. Many mothers shake a rattle for their babies to locate the sound.
One of the questions first-time parents ask is how long to play with a newborn. Babies do not have an extensive attention span. Hence, you can play with your infant until they fall asleep. Parents can sing children’s songs, make funny faces and sounds, and do other fun yet gentle activities.
When can I start tummy time?
You can start tummy time from day one as part of your baby’s pleasurable everyday routine. It would be best to observe tummy time gradually, beginning with one to two-minute sessions, two to three times daily. You can slowly prolong the tummy time duration to ten to fifteen-minute sessions, four to six times a day.
How do you do tummy time?
Place your baby on your chest belly-down for one to two minutes, two to three times daily. You can gradually increase the tummy time sessions up to 15 minutes several times every day. You can place a soft blanket on the floor and lay your older baby (at least three months old) on the blanket belly-down for about three to five minutes.
Knowing how to play with a newborn is a crucial responsibility of all parents. Sensory stimulation and motor development are important goals of playtime.
Using safe and age-appropriate toys, introducing different sensory experiences, cuddling, tummy time, and other activities can help achieve these goals while allowing young babies to bond with their parents. After all, play is a child’s way of discovering and exploring the world.