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When it comes to newborns, they don’t do much. They just lay there, eat, sleep and poop all the time, right? Not exactly. Newborn babies are taking in a lot of information and learning all the time. Play is a very important part of their development during this stage of their life. But how do you play with a newborn who seems to be a lump on a log all day?
Lets start with what your baby is learning in these early stages of life:
- How to move their limbs and head;
- To communicate;
- Socialize; and
- To understand their surroundings
There are various ways to play with a newborn in order to facilitate your baby’s learning and development, it is important to engage their senses and stimulate the brain. From the time baby is born, she can recognize her mothers voice, and sometimes even her fathers. Hearing Mom’s voice is very exciting for baby. It doesn’t take her long to associate the feeling of your touch, the sound of your voice and the sight of your face with her needs of comfort and food being met. For this reason, it is very easy to stimulate baby’s brain in the beginning. You can simply hold your baby, smile at her and play or sing some soft lullaby’s while gently caressing her face or arm. Doing this will stimulate her senses in a positive way. Babies absolutely love to stare at Mom’s face.
A few weeks older
When your baby is a few weeks older, she will need a little more stimulation. You can accomplish this by spending most of her awake time with her – feel free to use the washroom or make yourself some lunch – just don’t leave the baby alone too long and allow her to get bored. A very limited amount of alone time is actually good for baby. If baby looks content, leave her be for a few minutes to let her brain process everything she is experiencing. Adult company is the best for babies, she should be around adults talking majority of the time. If you are alone with baby, spend your day talking to her and explaining what you are doing around the house, If this gets exhausting, try putting on some music, a talk radio show or podcast.
Carrying your baby is an awesome way to stimulate majority of her senses. Find a baby carrier or sling that supports baby’s head well and use it around the house while you are cleaning up, gardening, or out for a walk. I have found this one to be particularly useful, comfortable and easy to use.
Use this Guide to help you find one that works for you and your baby. Being so close to Mom’s (or Dad’s) chest engages her sense of touch and smell (you have a distinct scent – good or bad – that your baby has come to know and love), being so high as you walk around will engage her sense of sight, and listening to you talk to your partner, friends or older kids will engage her sense of hearing – all while allowing you to carry baby hands-free! To quote BabyCenter:
“The panorama of life that he sees and hears as you stroll through your garden or up the street is as interesting as any movie.”
Baby’s love to look at things around your house, particularly things that move or have bright colours. If baby is going to have to be sitting in one place for a period of time (like in a car seat) try to place bright toys or items in her line of sight, or close enough that she can touch them. Around the house, if baby is awake, you should move her around often. Move her from your arms to her bouncer chair, to her swing, to tummy time, to your arms again. Also move her various baby seats around, have her looking out a window, then looking at a bookshelf with a lot of high contrast items on it, then watching you fold laundry.
Reading to your baby is another great way for your baby to learn and play, as well as an excellent way to bond with her. Showing her the bright pictures, or letting her pet the ‘touch and feels’ within the book will also stimulate her sense of hearing, sight and touch.
If you practice these methods on a daily basis, I have no doubt that your baby will be happy and learning new things everyday.