Congratulations on the arrival of your new baby! When you first bring your new baby home you will be busy with nothing but feeding, burping, sleeping every moment you can and washing things. But as the first few days pass and you start to find your feet there will be moments when your baby is awake and ready to play. The question is, what are you meant to play with a newborn?
You are the best toy your baby has.
Forget all those expensive educational gadgets, the very best toy for a young baby is you. All you need to do is hold them and talk, laugh, sing, even read a story. Your baby will love the interaction. Don’t worry that you can’t think of much to say, or you aren’t the world’s best singer, they won’t even notice! Here are a list of songs that you may find useful!
Watch the world.
Hold your little one in an upright position so they can see the world go by, either facing forwards or gazing over your shoulder, and move around the house. They will love the movement and take everything in. Try to vary the view by looking out of windows, at mirrors, or at any high contrast items like sunlight on a wall. While they can only focus clearly on objects a foot away, a young baby will still enjoy the rough outlines, shapes and shadows that they can see across the room.
If you are ready for a bigger adventure why not pop them in a sling (facing you) and go for a stroll? Babies love the sorts of big, smooth movements you make as you walk around, crouch down and reach up, so just getting on with your life while wearing or carrying your baby is the perfect way to soothe them and let them learn about the world at the same time.
Even a very little one can enjoy a baby gym or play mat. They might not be reaching for objects yet but they will like to look at them as they swing above their head. By 5 weeks or so you might notice that your baby reaches for objects or waves whichever arm or leg happens to be near a bell. At first this is accidental but if you watch you will see that (s)he gradually learns how to make the bell ring. It is also a good idea to make sure your little one spends some time playing on their tummy. Although some babies hate it (and we wouldn’t force it if they really don’t want to) many babies love tummy time, especially if you lie down next to the mat so that you can gaze at each other while you play. This play mat is a brilliant one and is enjoyed by the babies in our care daily. It also has a tummy time cushion and is very cost effective!
There are hundreds of toys made for babies in black and white (these are a huge hit in our baby room! This book is also well loved). Little ones do enjoy high contrast images and will love to stare at these toys, but don’t feel you need to fill the house with them, one or two is enough. Other useful baby toys include bells, both the kind that hang from a play mat and shakers. You can ring a bell for your baby and they will enjoy the sound, over time she will learn to turn towards the sound and follow it as you move the bell from one side to the other.
Gently does it.
Generally the more you can hold, cuddle and talk to your baby during playtimes the better. But don’t let this make you feel guilty for every second your baby is awake and not in your arms! It is also important for them to have some time to play independently, just looking around in peaceful contentment. Pop your little one on the play mat or in a bouncy chair (once (s)he develops some head control) for a few minutes and if they is content, let them play. We all need some time out and babies can easily be overstimulated, especially when the extended family drop by to meet your new arrival!
If you are considering what will happen when you return to work we have devised a great booklet all about things to consider when choosing childcare and what financial assistance is available. Why not download it here.
Until next time,