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.
What can a new mom do to begin bonding with her newborn? ›
Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding are helpful.
Bonding often begins with skin-to-skin contact in the first hour after delivery. This is when delivery room staff place your newborn baby down on your bare chest. As you lie together, you and your baby feel, hear, and smell each other for the first time.
Smile, stick out your tongue, and make other expressions for your infant to study, learn, and imitate. Use a favorite toy for your newborn to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for your infant to find. Let your baby spend some awake time lying on the tummy to help strengthen the neck and shoulders.How long does it take for a newborn to bond with you? ›
How long should the bonding process take? It's completely normal to take a few days, a few weeks or several months to feel that special bond. There may never be one 'wham bam' moment, just a gradual growing of love. So it's important not to feel under pressure to bond or feel a failure as a mum if you haven't bonded.How many hours a day should you play with a newborn? ›
Even young infants just a few days old should get two or three tummy time play sessions per day, each lasting three to five minutes. Playing doesn't have to mean entertaining your baby with toys all day long.What are the do's and don'ts for a newborn baby? ›
- Wash your hands (or use a hand sanitizer) before handling your baby. ...
- Support your baby's head and neck. ...
- Never shake your newborn, whether in play or in frustration. ...
- Make sure your baby is securely fastened into the carrier, stroller, or car seat.
Babytalk | A baby's bond with its mother may start with the sense of smell. One of my favorite things to do is show mothers how their baby can smell them from as far away as 1 to 2 feet.How do I know if my newborn has bonded with me? ›
Your newborn uses body language to show you when they want to connect with you and strengthen the bond between you. For example, your newborn might: smile at you or make eye contact. make little noises, like coos or laughs.What is cold mother syndrome? ›
Emotionally absent or cold mothers can be unresponsive to their children's needs. They may act distracted and uninterested during interactions, or they could actively reject any attempts of the child to get close. They may continue acting this way with adult children.How often should you talk to newborn? ›
Talk to your baby as often as you can
And once they can understand language, they will start developing their own language skills. Good communication skills mean simply being able to explain what they want and need.
When should you start having playtime with your newborn? From the first moment you hold your newborn you are engaging their senses. They peer up at your face, hear your voice, and feel the warmth of your skin. These simple connections are the very beginning of what can count as “play” in the early newborn days.
How can I play with my 4 week old baby? ›
- Head Lifts: Baby should be starting to lift head a little bit when doing Tummy Time. ...
- Keep a Diary: Track things like baby's motor milestones, how often they eat, and how many ounces are eaten per day. ...
- Rattle Up & Down: Move and groove with a rattle – up and down.
In short, yes: Babies do feel love. Even though it will be quite a while before they're able to verbalize their feelings, they can and do understand emotional attachment. Affection, for example can be felt.Do newborns miss you? ›
“Your baby will start to understand when they are separated from you,” says Dr. Hoang. And when they do, they may want to be with you again—in other words, they will miss you. Unfortunately, the development of object permanence is also the first step toward babies developing separation anxiety as well.At what age do babies prefer mom? ›
“Most babies develop a preference for their mother within 2 to 4 months of age. From birth, the combination of sight, smell, and sound likely all help babies distinguish their mother from others.Do I need to constantly entertain my baby? ›
That said, you don't need to interact with and entertain your baby during every waking moment. Babies need time on their own, too, so they can gradually start to understand that they're independent from you. And at first, you won't have much time to play.How many hours of sleep do I need with newborn? ›
Generally, newborns sleep a total of about 8 to 9 hours in the daytime and a total of about 8 hours at night. But because they have a small stomach, they must wake every few hours to eat. Most babies don't start sleeping through the night (6 to 8 hours) until at least 3 months of age.How long should a newborn stay away? ›
There are no set rules about how long to wait before taking a newborn out into the world or when to let people near the baby. Some doctors recommend that parents wait until their baby is a few months old before going to crowded public places (like malls, movie theaters, and airplanes).What is the most important thing for a newborn baby? ›
- Crib. When it comes to newborn baby necessities, the crib tops our checklist. ...
- Crib mattress. One of the most important newborn baby essentials is a firm mattress that fits the crib you've bought perfectly. ...
- Bassinet. ...
- Nursery glider or rocking chair. ...
According to most pediatric health experts, infants can be taken out in public or outside right away as long as parents follow some basic safety precautions. There's no need to wait until 6 weeks or 2 months of age. Getting out, and in particular, getting outside in nature, is good for parents and babies.What are the danger signs in newborn? ›
Wheezing, grunting, or whistling sounds while breathing. Odor, drainage, or bleeding from the umbilical cord. Yellow coloring of the eyes, chest, or extremities. Crying, irritability, or twitching which does not improve with cuddling and comfort.
Can babies sense their father? ›
When do babies recognize their father or mother? Babies can recognize their parents pretty early actually – as young as 4 days old. By making eye contact with your baby during feeding times, cuddle sessions and throughout the day, you're helping your child memorize your face and learn to trust you.Why do babies calm down when they are carried? ›
Researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan think the answer is rooted in evolutionary biology. Simply put, in times of danger, it is easier to flee with a child who isn't kicking and screaming. So the simple act of being carried translates into a signal for the child to be still.How does my sleeping baby know when I leave the room? ›
That's because between 4 and 7 months babies begin to realize that people and objects exist even when they can't see them. This is called object permanence. For example, if you leave the room your baby will know that you've gone away.Does sleeping with your baby create a bond? ›
The Bottom Line
D., an anthropologist specializing in infancy and development and director of the mother/baby behavioral sleep laboratory at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. That is to say that you create strong bonds and secure attachments with your baby whether or not you co-sleep.
While six weeks has long been the traditional timeline for rest and recuperation after a birth, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends ongoing postpartum care from birth to 12 weeks. Six weeks is also the standard recovery time allotted for childbirth-related short-term disability leave.What does it mean when a baby stares at you for a long time? ›
When you catch your baby staring for a long period, it might mean they're curious about the world around them, they're trying to learn or they're just naturally drawn to the objects or sights around them. Babies observe everything around them and this is a sight that their brain starts to develop.What is mommy fatigue? ›
What Is Mommy Fatigue? Mommy fatigue is a form of exhaustion that occurs as a result of feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed by parenting. An exhausted mom often experiences fears related to not being good enough, relinquishing control, and losing her sense of self.What is first time mom syndrome? ›
New mother syndrome is a term that describes the feeling of sadness, anxiety, or loss that new mothers experience after giving birth. It is also known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that affects women following childbirth.What is an Alpha mom? ›
A dominant female in a group of mothers
An alpha mom is a mother who dominates over other mothers in her social sphere. The mother dominates over others with her strong opinions and belief that she is in the right. An alpha mom always rises to the top when a group of mothers comes together.
Your baby loves the sound of your voice. So talk, read, sing, and coo away during these first few months. Respond enthusiastically to your baby's sounds and smiles. Tell your baby what they are looking at or doing and what you're doing.
What do you do with your baby all day? ›
- 33 THINGS TO DO WITH A BABY TO ENTERTAIN AND HELP IN BABY'S DEVELOPMENT.
- Nursery rhymes. ...
- Kicking objects. ...
- play with puzzles. ...
- EXPLORE with busy boxes. ...
- BANGING BLOCKS TOGETHER. ...
- Make a book of photos.
There's no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out your baby's skin.What to do with a 1 week old baby? ›
- Tummy to Play: Always remember: back to sleep, tummy to play. ...
- Face-to-Face: Lie down propped up by a pillow and place baby tummy down on your chest so you're face-to-face. ...
- Get to Know Baby: Take time to get to know baby in every way.
In the first few weeks, looking after yourself is important. This means eating well and doing some physical activity, and also resting when your baby sleeps, which will help you catch up on sleep. Getting help from family and friends can make a big difference too.Can 4 week old babies watch TV? ›
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under the age of 2 not watch any television.Does my 4 week old baby know me? ›
Your baby is learning to recognize you through their senses. At birth, they are starting to recognize your voices, faces, and smells to figure out who is taking care of them. Since the maternal voice is audible in utero, an infant starts to recognize their mother's voice from the third trimester.What colors can babies see at 1 month? ›
At about 1 month, your little one can detect the brightness and intensity of colors, and over the next few months may start to see several basic colors, including red. Your baby's color vision is fully developed by about 4 months, when they'll be able to see lots of colors and even shades of colors.How do newborns show they love? ›
They smile at you.
It's their way of saying "I love you." Most babies will smile back if you smile at them by the time they're two months; by four months, they'll smile to get your attention, which is somehow even more adorable.
Babies often prefer their primary caregiver
Most babies naturally prefer the parent who's their primary caregiver, the person they count on to meet their most basic and essential needs. This is especially true after 6 months when separation anxiety starts to set in.
Although all the sensory systems start developing in utero; but the development of the sense of smell predominates in early fetal life. Babies recognize their mother's scent even before they are born. Your baby is biologically and genetically programmed to connect to you through your unique smell.
How do babies tell you they love you? ›
They Interact With You
We're talking about the smiles, the meaningful looks, the looking away and back again. These goofy games and facial expressions are important in cementing a baby's attachment—just as much as your responses to their physical needs are.
Babies can show signs of jealousy when they're as young as three months old, new Canadian research has found, which contradicts theories that it takes two years for humans to first experience the emotion.Can newborns get confused who their mom is? ›
As noted in Parenting, your baby can tell the difference between your breast milk and another mom's by scent alone. Oh, and this distinction can happen when your baby is only 2 weeks old, as further noted by Parenting. In fact, your baby can likely distinguish you from other moms even while still in utero.What age is hardest to parent baby? ›
But many first-time parents find that after the first month of parenthood, it can actually get more difficult. This surprising truth is one reason many experts refer to a baby's first three months of life as the “fourth trimester.” If months two, three, and beyond are tougher than you expected, you're not alone.What age is the hardest with a baby? ›
Coping with your baby
Most people find the first six to eight weeks to be the hardest with a new baby, and whilst people may not openly discuss many of the challenges in these early weeks of parenthood (if at all), there are a number of common hurdles you may face at this time.
By 4 to 6 months, they will turn to you and expect you to respond when upset. By 7 or 8 months, they will have a special response just for you (they may also be upset by strangers). Your baby may also start to respond to your stress, anger or sadness.Can I let my newborn play alone? ›
Rest assured, it's perfectly okay to let your child play alone, even at a young age, as long as you're nearby and he's safe. So if your little one is looking at a book in his crib or sitting on the floor stacking cups (within ear- and eyeshot, of course), leave him be.What can newborns see at 1 week? ›
Week 1: Blurry View
During their first week, your baby can only see objects 8-12 inches in front of their face. This is about the distance from their face to yours while feeding. Babies generally hold their gaze for only a few seconds.
A neonate is also called a newborn. The neonatal period is the first 4 weeks of a child's life.How long is newborn stage? ›
While there's a lot to learn as a first-time mom, a baby is only considered a newborn for his first 2-3 months of life. Next is the infant stage, which lasts until your baby turns 1 year old.
How often do you bathe a newborn? ›
How often does my newborn need a bath? There's no need to give your newborn baby a bath every day. Three times a week might be enough until your baby becomes more mobile. Bathing your baby too much can dry out your baby's skin.Can I go out with my 1 week old baby? ›
According to most pediatric health experts, infants can be taken out in public or outside right away as long as parents follow some basic safety precautions. There's no need to wait until 6 weeks or 2 months of age.How often should you change a 1 week old baby? ›
Young babies may need changing as many as 10 or 12 times a day, while older babies need to be changed around 6 to 8 times.Can newborns feel lonely? ›
#5: Your Baby Can Feel Lonely
For the first time in their existence, they experience physical separation from their caregivers. After constantly hearing a heartbeat and being 'held', being put down for long periods of time can be quite scary and lonely. Some infants will go down easily and seem content to be alone.
When your baby is awake, give him or her supervised time on his or her tummy so he or she can develop upper body muscles. Focus and begin to make eye contact with you. Blink in reaction to bright light. Respond to sound and recognize your voice, so be sure and talk to your baby often.Can a baby smell its mother? ›
Babies recognize their mother's scent even before they are born. Your baby is biologically and genetically programmed to connect to you through your unique smell. The process of development of olfactory cells (cells responsible for the sense of smell) begins as soon as the first trimester of pregnancy.Can babies see in the dark? ›
Newborns: adjusting to light and beginning to focus
A newborn baby can see something next to them with their peripheral (side) vision, but their central vision is still developing. Within a couple of weeks, as their retinas develop, a baby's pupils widen. They can see light and dark ranges and patterns.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) or Active Sleep
The vast majority of newborns' smiles during sleep appear to occur when the eyes are moving rapidly, as they would during a dream. Studies suggest that adults smile in response to positive dream imagery.