So, you waited nine (ten, really) long months for the bundle to arrive, and now you are finally back at home, in your own space, with your little bundle of joy. What do you do now? A common misconception that many new parents have is that you can’t really do anything with newborns other than feed, carry, and change them.
In reality, though, your newest member of the family benefits from activities in the same way that a toddler, adolescent, and even adults do. Luckily, unlike the latter three who probably want to go out or spend money for entertainment and stimulation, your new baby really and truly just needs one thing: you.
Benefits of Playing With Your Newborn Baby
When your little one was still in his or her first home, you probably had an app that kept you apprised of all that was going on inside the baby’s tiny body. You received updates on whether the baby’s eyes were opening, which organs were maturing that morning, and what the powerful little brain was now capable of. While your baby’s physical growth will be apparent to you over the next few months, the newborn’s cognitive development is happening at lightning speed as well, so playing with your baby is absolutely crucial if you want the child to grow into a well-rounded little human.
Stimulating your newborn with plenty of play encourages learning, bonding and personality development, and it’s also just one of the cutest, most intimate times you will have with your new baby before he or she is old enough to start playing with others and even going to school.
Singing and Reading
One of the easiest ways you bonded with your little one while the baby was still ensconced in your tummy was by talking to him or her. Now that the baby has made the debut, continuing to stimulate his or her auditory senses has never been more important. Read to your little one, sing your favorite songs (especially the ones you sang before the baby was born), and have simple little conversations with the baby.
Give your newborn plenty of wait time so that he or she can begin responding to the sounds you make, and before you know it, the baby’s responses will become more regulated and more reminiscent of the actual conversations you’ll be having before long!
Babies love visual stimulation. When you’re reading a book, point to the pictures. Make silly faces in between your conversations. When the weather is nice, take your little one outside to a park where he or she can see lights, animals, cars, nature and people. If it is too chilly out or raining, take the baby to the window so that he or she can start to adjust to new lighting while taking in the sights from the comfort of the room. Try showing your newborn bright, colorful scarves and toys, and while you’re at it, begin to identify the colors aloud. It’s never too early to learn!
According to the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical stimulation through tummy time is incredibly important for your baby’s development. It’s also really fun to watch as a parent. Starting on the day the baby comes home, placing your little one on the tummy for fewer than five minutes a day can have a huge, positive impact on the baby’s growth.
This routine helps the newborn strengthen his or her muscles slowly, and you can spice it up with different toys and games that will make it fun for both of you. Provide a fun toy the baby can grab, shake and rattle, let the baby touch different textures, and encourage him or her to squeeze your hand.
There is never a shortage of activities to try with your new baby. Start out slowly and cherish this time you have to spend time with your little one and get to know him or her. Remember that everything here is new to the baby, so don’t worry about his or her getting bored, or your own getting bored, for that matter! The baby has a big world to explore. There’s something wonderful and special about the fact that you will be his or her first guide through it.