Bringing home your newborn is one of the most exciting experiences. The feeling of taking the little one that you brought into this world back to your home is simply unbeatable. Especially as this interaction will begin the next chapter of your life.
But how do you play with a newborn? When your baby can’t really do that much because they are still growing, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to playing with your child.
Keep on reading to find out all you need to know about how to play with a newborn.
Key Takeaways on How to Play With a Newborn
- Playing with a newborn should start early, ideally when the baby is about one week old.
- Play activities with your baby are important building blocks for future learning and development.
- Know that every baby develops at their own pace, so don’t feel guilty.
While it is exciting, bringing home your newborn can also be a little scary. Once you leave the hospital, that baby becomes your sole responsibility, and it is your job to keep them alive. When your newborn also happens to be your first born, this can be incredibly daunting. And it can be difficult to know where to begin with your new baby.
One thing that stumps a lot of new parents is when they should start to play with their newborn. Play time is a vital part of your child’s development, and it is critical that you use the right play styles and techniques to help your baby grow into childhood.
When Should You Start Playing With Your Newborn?
First things first, let’s take a look at when you should start playing with your newborn. It can be tricky to know where to begin. In the days after your child is first born, you will likely feel too tired to even consider playing.
As you recover from the birth and learn to adjust to sleepless nights, the last thing on your mind is probably playing with your child. But when it comes to playing with your child, you should start early. Ideally, when your newborn is just 1 week old.
Play is one of the most important things for your little one and that is because it is critical for your baby’s development. Play allows your baby to become familiar with their environment, develop relationships with the people around them, learn gross and fine motor skills and lots more. From the moment your baby is born, they will begin learning new things. Play is one of the best ways for them to learn these things.
Know your baby’s interests and plan newborn activities accordingly. Depending on your baby’s age group, design fun play experiences using different objects such as empty plastic bottles or clean cardboard boxes. Let your baby hear sounds or explore different textures while playing.
So, in an ideal world, you should begin playing with your baby when they are around 1 week old. Introducing basic play at this stage will help your child develop the skills they will need for more advanced play as they grow.
How Many Hours a Day Should You Play With a Newborn?
When your baby is a newborn, you will probably observe that they spend a large amount of time asleep. This is perfectly normal. Your baby has a lot of growing to do, and a large amount of sleep is necessary in order for them to grow. This might have you wondering how you are supposed to fit playtime into your baby’s schedule, and more importantly, how much play you should be aiming to have per day.
When your baby is a newborn, they do not need to be playing for hours. In fact, it is perfectly normal for babies to play for much less than 1 hour a day for the first few weeks of their life. Your baby needs to be awake to play, and as we have said, newborn babies spend a huge amount of time fast asleep. So when you play with your newborn, it is likely to only be for a few minutes in increments throughout the day.
All in all, your baby should aim to get at least three sessions of playtime per day, with each lasting around 5 minutes. As your baby grows, you can increase the amount of playtime to ensure that they are getting enough playtime to develop. As your baby grows, the styles of play that you can complete will increase, and this will make playtime a lot more enjoyable for both your baby and you.
Why Is It Important to Play With Your Newborn?
Before we take a look at how to play with your newborn, let’s quickly touch upon why it is so important that you do this. As we have established, play time is vital for your child’s development, and if you want your baby to develop healthily then you need to be playing with your child every single day from the day they reach one week of age.
Your baby will be able to grow on their own, as long as you give it food and water. But they will not be able to develop without your encouragement. In the early stages of childhood and development, play time is one of the most valuable forms of encouragement when it comes to learning and developing.
Through different techniques of play in play time, your child will be able to learn and develop lots of different skills. Skills that you may not even notice they are learning.
Through playtime, you will be more aware of your baby’s cues and increase physical contact. When she’s awake, talk to your baby. Human voices can provide good stimulation for your baby’s hearing. While talking to your baby, hold your baby’s face close to you and maintain eye contact. The sense of sight of your newborn’s eyes are not fully developed at a young age.
With every new thing that your baby is introduced to, their brain will grow and develop vital functions that they will carry with them through the rest of their lives. So playing with your newborn is incredibly important.
How to Play With a Newborn: Fun Newborn Play Ideas
There are tons of different ways that you can play with your newborn. From as simple as walking with our baby in a baby carrier to reading children’s book at story time or during diaper changes can help your baby reach developmental milestones.
The key to playtime with your baby when they are a newborn is for you to interact with them. The amount of things that your child will learn from you is truly outstanding, and that is why it is very important that they spend a lot of time with you.
Everything that your baby learns about the world, they learn from you. So introducing them to different styles of play from an early age is vital. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some super fun ideas for playing with your newborn.
Read to Them
Our first suggestion is to read to your baby. Reading is something that will form a crucial part of you and your child’s routine as they grow older, so why not get started early, and begin reading to them when they are just a newborn.
When your baby grows to a stage where they can talk and demand for you to read their favorite books with simple pictures, you won’t have as much freedom as you will when they are newborn. While your baby is just a few days or weeks old, you will be able to read them whatever you want, and reading aloud to them can really help with their development.
It has been found in some research that reading to your child in the first month can help with brain development and processing speed. So it doesn’t matter what you read to your infants, simply read aloud to your baby to help with their brain development.
One of the most interesting ways to play with your newborn through reading is making different sounds as sound effects. For instance, you can change your voice if you are reading from a different perspective or engage in “baby talk”. Use sounds effects such as blowing raspberries or produce a high-pitched sound. It won’t be long before your little ones start imitating you.
There isn’t much that is quite as cute as watching your baby stretch. Stretching feels incredible for your body, no matter what age you are, and this is something that your newborn will quickly learn. Especially if you utilize playtime for some stretches and tickles.
As we have said, when your baby is a newborn, the most important thing for their development is interaction with you. So play time doesn’t have to be overly exciting, it simply needs to include the two of you. Stretching and tickling is a great way to get one on one interaction with your baby, and help their development at the same time.
Lay your baby on a blanket and help them move about. Move their arms up and down and from side to side, squeeze their little toes and pedal their legs like they are on a bicycle. Tickle their feet and shake a rattle. This will really help their senses develop and be super fun for your baby at the same time.
Help strengthen your baby’s neck muscles by doing a baby version of the adult sit-ups. You can also gently sway or lightly squeeze your baby’s toes and pedal their legs, which can be helpful for gassy babies.
Tummy time is an essential activity for your baby’s development, but it can be a challenge to keep them engaged and entertained during this time.
Some fun play ideas to try during tummy time include placing baby toys within reach, so your baby’s hands can grasp and explore them, or using a small mirror to encourage self-discovery. You can also make funny faces, sing songs or tell stories to keep your baby engaged and happy.
Play peek-a-boo or blowing bubbles help stimulate your baby’s senses while they are on their tummy. If your baby is older, you can encourage them to crawl toward a favorite toy or book to help build their strength and coordination.
If your infant does not appear to relish tummy time on a play mat laid on the ground, consider positioning your baby tummy down instead. This way, your little one may find it more pleasing to be in proximity to you, able to gaze at your face and bask in your body heat.
You’ve probably heard of tummy time, but let us introduce facetime. Facetime can be a great alternative for newborns that are struggling with muscle control and lifting their heads.
Face time essentially requires you to lie down and place your baby on your chest with their head pointed towards you. Essentially so that your faces are super close together.
Sing to your baby during bath time, talk to them or read them a story that you make up as you go along, as your baby listens to your voice they will find themselves encouraged to look up at you. Every time they lift their head to look at you, reward them with a smile. This can really help with their development.
This is essentially the same as tummy time, but it adds the extra layer of development for your children as you read to them, and you have skin to skin contact. This really is a precious way to interact with your baby and support their social development.
Dance With Them
Everybody loves to dance, and your baby will be no different. There is no freedom quite like dancing in different positions, and dancing with your baby from when they are a newborn can help them appreciate all the benefits of dancing.
Babies love motion more than most people, and while they may be unable to dance on their own, the feeling of bobbing along with you as you dance will really help them develop. Babies find the motion of being bounced and spun very soothing.
This is a great play time activity because it can really help both you and your baby to loosen up and relax. You will both have a great time dancing together, and it is an excellent way to unlock core memories with your little one.