Contrary to traditional beliefs, newborns and babies up to 6 months old are capable of and should be exposed to playing. Recent findings show that babies who engage in playing early on develop faster and show more advanced social skills than others.
To fully understand how you can best interact with your newborn, here’s a quick and easy guide for you:
Importance of Playing with Newborns
Courtesy of Scary Mommy
Playing is crucial in the development of newborn babies because it not only provides them with sensory stimuli but also helps babies learn about the environment around them. Playing lets them engage early in the world outside of themselves and this pushes their development in the right direction.
Playing with your newborn helps:
- Enhance sensory development
- Improve or hasten the development of fine motor skills
- Build awareness of the environment
- Strengthen bonds
- Improve coordination
- Build confidence
Play Ideas for Newborns
Courtesy of Verywell Family
Because newborns have yet to fully develop their eyesight and grip, you can only engage them in simple play activities such as:
- Peek-a-boo (can see shadows and general movements)
- Story-telling and listening
Easy Activities for Newborns to 6-Month-Olds
Courtesy of Lovevery
At six months, babies already have well-developed eyesight and should now be partially capable of controlling major movements. Children at this age are rapidly making plenty of neural connections as they take in and process a lot of stimuli around them.
They are also developing the necessary muscles for dexterity and slowly coordinating movements.
Try out the following easy activities on your baby until they turn 6 months old to further help with brain and body development.
Read stories and poems aloud to your little one to make him/her listen. Not only will this make your baby familiar with your voice, but it will also teach your baby the basic concepts of communication. Some studies even suggest that babies comprehend emotions just by listening to changes in volume and intonation.
In this activity, you get your baby’s attention by holding up an object in front of his/her face. Then, when his/her eyes are fixed on you (or the object), move the object slowly and let your baby’s eyes track the movements that you make.
This is a wonderful activity to improve focus and concentration, as well as to exercise developing eye muscles. Unfortunately, this may take a while to happen since newborns still have difficulty seeing.
You can also try making faces at your baby. In this fun activity, observe how your baby reacts to every detail you change in your facial expression. If you’re lucky, you might even catch your baby trying to imitate what you’re doing.
Before they get to 6 months, babies can actually start dancing to music by “kicking” the air with both feet simultaneously. By 6 months, they even learn to do the alternate kicking. Just softly play a beat to them and let them “dance” to get some leg exercises in.
You can also try singing to your baby as an alternative to storytelling. Apart from providing auditory stimulus, singing can have a soothing effect on babies. In other cases though, babies try to sing along with people who sing to them.
Another activity you can let your babies do is tummy time. For this, you just need to gently roll the baby over on his/her tummy and then let him/her stay in this position for a few minutes. During this period, your baby will attempt to raise his/her head up from the surface several times.
It may look difficult but this activity is very effective in strengthening your baby’s shoulder and neck muscles. It also prevents your baby from forming those flat spots on the back of their heads.
A gentle massage is another great activity for you and your baby. Skin-to-skin contact from the massage helps calm the baby, regulate their heartbeat, and provide them a sense of security. It’s a great way to bond with your baby as well.
Indoor and Outdoor Activities to Do with Newborns
Courtesy of Baby Centre
The following simple activities can be done both indoors and outdoors:
- Ticking and cuddling
- Singing and dancing
Indoor-only activities include:
- Baby massage
- Tummy time
Do take note that some outdoor environments provide too many stimuli for the baby to handle. If they make a fuss when you bring them into a different environment, this might be a sign that they are getting overstimulated.
Overstimulation is not good for the baby. When this happens, calm the baby down and take the baby somewhere quiet and dim.
Frequently Asked Questions on Newborn Activities
What are some easy baby activities?
For your newborn babies, you can try easy activities like:
- Reading aloud to your baby
- Playing peek-a-boo
- Singing and whispering into your baby’s ears
- Tickling and cuddling
- Tummy time
- Giving different objects for your baby to feel
How do I entertain a baby?
Babies don’t need much to be entertained. As part of their development, they do often require stimulation, but they’re not picky with the type of stimulus you’re willing to provide. You can entertain your baby with simple things such as:
- Talking to your baby
- Singing a lullaby or any song for that matter
- Tickling your baby
- Giving him/her a massage
- Handing your baby a sensory toy to play with and explore
- Giving him some outside time
Do newborns need toys?
You don’t need to buy toys for your newborns, they are more into exploring rather than playing.
So, if you would like to get them some objects to play with, it would be better to keep in mind how much of a stimulus the object you’re planning to buy for them provides.
Does it provide a new smell, a different texture, or a unique sound? That’s the type of toy they will need and appreciate.
What age do babies play peek-a-boo?
Babies can play peek-a-boo at any age. However, object recognition often develops around 3 months. You will most likely see better peek-a-boo interaction from them after they turn 3 months old. Until then, just be patient.
How do I bond with my newborn?
Spend time with your baby. Be generous with touches, hugs, and talking. The more time you spend with them, the more your voice, scent, and touch becomes familiar and more comforting to your baby.
Why are baby activities important?
Baby activities are important because:
- They provide necessary physical and mental stimulation for the baby
- They help develop important skills in the baby (hand-eye coordination, fine motor, simple problem-solving, and even rudimentary math skills)
- They foster communication skills
What are the benefits of creative play for babies?
Creative play in babies:
- Improves hand-and-eye coordination
- Enhances sensory development
- Improves attention as well as concentration
- Encourages imagination
- Builds self-confidence
- Creates a sense of awareness of the surroundings