It is never too soon to begin playing games with your babies. Play is a natural way for newborns to learn about the world and develop their senses. Interaction has a good impact on their mental development, such as language, trust, and bonding skills, as well as their physical effect, as it works on their eyesight, neck strength, and agility.
Playing with your baby helps them learn to talk and absorb language. You may not always have time to stop everything and play, but you can still talk to your kid about what’s happening, for example, while cooking dinner, shopping, or folding clothes.
Playing together also helps you and your baby get to know each other, and this is because play can reveal a lot about your baby’s personality. You’ll soon learn whether your infant prefers rough and silly or quiet and serene.
You are engaging their senses from the first moment you hold your newborn. They look at your face, listen to your voice, and touch your warm skin. In the early days of a baby’s life, these simple links are the start of what can be called “play.”
During the first month or two, your baby’s interests may appear limited to feeding, sleeping, and pooping. However, you may notice that they perk up and move their heads toward familiar voices or try to fix their gaze on a toy when you rattle or squeak it.
It may not be easy to imagine, but babies may be lifting their heads to gaze about when placed on their tummies by the second month. By the third month, you should notice consistent grins and sounds that appear to be their attempt to communicate with you.
While they can’t express themselves verbally, you’ll see indicators that your baby is ready for — and interested in — playing every day. While they sleep a lot (during the first six months, your baby will most likely sleep 14 to 16 hours each day), you’ll notice times when they’re awake and alert yet quiet.
Playtime Activities for Newborns
We have compiled a list of easy-to-do activities with your newborn. Even though these activities may seem simple, doing them consistently will help them with their development tremendously.
Facetime Tummy time is advised for all infants, but it is sometimes not well received by participants still working on the motor control and coordination required to elevate their heads.
Place the baby on your chest and sing or talk to them for a change of pace. When they lift their heads in response to your words, they’ll be rewarded with a glimpse of your smile. Physical contact and proximity can improve everyone’s enjoyment of tummy time.
Even though babies spend most of their time lying down, they need to spend some time on their tummies daily. An infant’s position affects how well they can engage with their environment and, consequently, how they develop, claims one study researcher.
Fun while Folding
Laundry. You’re probably doing a lot of laundry with a child, and you can spend time with your infant while doing this activity. While you work on the pile of clothes, keep a blanket or bassinet nearby.
The colors of the clothing, the rush of air as you shake out a towel, and the obligatory game of peekaboo when you lift and drop a blanket may all stimulate the senses. Again, you can discuss the colors, textures, and uses of various items with a newborn.
Stretch, Pedal, and Tickle
Place the infant on a blanket and assist them in moving. Hold their hands gently while moving their arms up, out to the side, and around. Squeeze those cute toes and pedal their legs (this one is also great for gassy babies!). Gentle massage and tickles from the soles of their feet to the crown of their heads can be enjoyable for both of you.
A small toy or two is also appropriate at this time. A rattle, a stuffed toy with strong contrast, or an unbreakable mirror are all excellent possibilities. Hold things close enough for your baby to concentrate, talk about what you’re doing, and allow them to reach for and touch the items while you play.
Dance with Me
As any parent who has rocked, bounced, and driven in circles can tell, babies love motion and find it soothing. You can always cradle the baby in your arms, but putting a baby in a carrier is exceptionally effective for this activity.
Put on some music and scoop or sling your child. You can dance and jump around the living room with your child, but you can also do chores or talk on the phone.
At this point, your infant cannot demand that you read “Hop on Pop” for the 34,985th time. They like to hear your voice.
It has less to do with the words you say and more to do with your voice inflection. So read whatever you want, and just read it out. Voice inflection matters more than words, and read whatever you want aloud. Reading helps to grow the brain, increase cognitive speed, and expand vocabulary.
Sing a Song
Go ahead and sing it out, whether it’s a lullaby at sleep or a little rockin’ out to Lizzo in the car. Your baby will not assess your pitch; they will like hearing your voice.
This is particularly beneficial when trying to sneak in a shower while a fussy baby waits expectantly. Bring a baby’s chair into the bathroom and perform an impromptu symphony while shampooing your hair.
If your baby is awake and calm, you can leave them in their crib or another safe place while you get some much-needed rest.
What Skills is Your Newborn Developing?
Developmental milestones include abilities such as smiling for the first time and waving “bye-bye.” These growth markers help physicians and parents track the baby’s development in four crucial areas: social and emotional, language and communication, cognitive, and gross and fine motor skills.
However, it is crucial to note that each infant develops at a unique pace. Developmental milestones can be helpful, but they are not a rigid plan.
General, here’s what you can expect to see during the first three months (what’s broadly considered the newborn period):
Social and emotional skills:
☞ Makes brief eye contact
Eye contact is more than just your newborn recognizing you. Your newborn acquires information, responds to voices and people, and gradually understands things through the act.
Making eye contact is a crucial developmental milestone for a baby. They make their first direct eye contact between six and eight weeks.
It’s not only about your infant knowing when you make eye contact. Your infant acquires information, responds to voices and people, and gradually comprehends things via the act. Eye contact connects your brainwaves to the babies and aids in the development of learning and communication skills.
How to Test your Baby Making eye contact:
- Hold your infant around 10-20 inches from your face and urge them to stare at you.
- If your baby is already looking in your direction, make gestures, sing or talk to your baby.
- Touch, voice, and eye contact are all ways to get closer to the baby.
- Keep exciting toys out of the baby’s reach but close enough that they can see them.
- If you keep talking to your baby while eating, your voice may make the baby try to look at you.
- When your baby is looking at a person or an object, pointing to it and saying what it helps them learn the language.
☞ Calms down when picked up
Every parent desires a consistent sleep schedule for their children. We all know that babies who get enough sleep are happier and calmer, and (though it’s rare) parents who get enough sleep are also much more comfortable. Training people to sleep better can help the whole family get the rest they need to be at their best.
☞ Begins to smile at people
You may help your infant build self-esteem by encouraging them to smile. It teaches kids that their feelings are significant, can influence their surroundings, and benefit their general brain growth.
☞ Tries to look at parent or caregiver
Babies pay attention to the faces around them during their first few months of life. They will begin to identify their parents’ faces, as well as the faces of other caretakers and familiar persons.
Language and Communication Skills
☞ Coos and makes gurgling sounds
Your child is now cooing and gurgling. Aside from crying, the youngster has discovered another way to express themself verbally, which is a significant step forward in a child’s language development.
Children begin cooing, gurgling, or generating vowel sounds such as “ooh” and “aah” around six weeks after birth. For babies, being able to communicate verbally and hearing themselves “talk” is a significant deal that boosts their confidence.
How can we help this development?
Hold Your Child and look into their eyes while speaking in a high-pitched, enthusiastic voice, then stop for a response; show your baby that you are listening by smiling and maintaining eye contact. When you hear your baby create a sound, repeat it to them and wait for them to respond with another sound. This will pique your baby’s interest in listening and experimenting with spoken communication!
☞ Turns head toward the sound
In most situations, newborns will move their heads consciously in the first few months of life. After two months, they can usually turn it into a sound. Many babies begin shaking their heads by the end of the first year, and often considerably sooner.
Head shaking is a common developmental milestone associated with reflexes and motor abilities.
Most babies start tilting their heads toward sounds around two months old By four months, they have gained head control and can readily lift and move their heads.
The following are developmental reasons why a baby may shake their head:
Babies learn new talents via practice. Increasing head control is a significant development for infants with little control over their surroundings.
A newborn that has recently learned to manipulate its head may turn it from side to side and try different positions.
☞ Sound perception
A baby’s head will frequently move toward familiar or exciting sounds, such as a loud crash or the voice of a parent or caregiver.
When two or more people are talking or multiple competing noises in a room, a baby’s head may shift back and forth, attempting to follow the sounds.
Head motions may cease in a quieter environment.
Babies understand words long before they can speak. As a result, infants may begin to grasp some of what their parents or carers say to them at around six months. To communicate with them, a newborn may shake their head.
By the age of a year, many babies shake their heads to express “no” or frustration.
Shaking their heads from side to side might be comforting for some babies, and they may do this when overstimulated, worried, or trying to sleep.
Self-soothing is safe and may help a newborn feel less frightened in unfamiliar surroundings.
☞ Cognitive skills
They are brain-based abilities for knowledge acquisition, information manipulation, and thinking. They are also known as cognitive functions, cognitive skills, or cognitive capacities. They are more concerned with how people learn, remember, solve problems, and pay attention than factual information. Perception, attention, memory, learning, decision-making, and linguistic ability are all examples of cognitive skills or functions.
☞ Begins to track objects
Object tracking develops quickly between the ages of two and six months. Infants typically monitor objects with their eyes by seven months but will not reach adult levels until far into childhood.
☞ Eye Movement Types
People utilize smooth pursuit eye movements to follow a moving object, saccades to catch up to the object when the smooth pursuit is off-track, and vergence shifts to manage the depth of the tracked item during object tracking.
☞ Effortless Pursuit
To fixate and follow a moving object, smooth pursuit eye movements are used. These slow eye movements keep the moving item on the fovea, allowing for highly detailed vision. Surprisingly, most people cannot perform these eye movements without a moving object to follow.
Saccades are rapid eye movements that cause a person’s fixation to shift to a different area of interest. In actuality, “saccade” is French for “jerk” or “jolt,” implying a quick, sudden movement. Saccade lengths can be short or long, and Saccades, unlike smooth pursuit eye movements, can be controlled or uncontrolled.
Both eyes move in the same direction during smooth pursuit and saccade eye movements. Vergence eye motions, on the other hand, cause the eyes to travel in different directions, allowing the item to land directly on the fovea of each eye for detailed vision.
If the object is close, the pupils will assemble for the target to fall on the foveas. The pupils will diverge from one another if the object is farther distant for this to happen. People can concentrate on an object in three-dimensional space by adjusting vergence (convergence or divergence) as well as lens and pupil size.
☞ Starts to act bored when activities don’t change
Remember that your baby has a considerably shorter attention span compared to you. They might only display interest in something for five to ten minutes before expressing their disinterest. Your infant will give you small cues that they are bored by yawning, averting their eyes, wriggling, and crying.
Give your baby something else to do if you suspect they’re getting bored to show them you’re paying attention. Give them some quiet time, move them to a different part of the room, or grab another toy. This provides your baby’s brain a chance to catch up and benefit from all the pleasure while allowing them to rest.
Don’t take it personally or think your infant is turning away from you. Simply put, they’re telling you that they’ve had enough.
☞ Gross and fine motor skills
Fine motor skills are how you move and use your hands and other upper body parts. They include using your hands to reach, grab, and manipulate objects. Visual motor abilities, often known as hand-eye coordination, are part of fine motor skills. Visual-motor abilities are required to coordinate hands, legs, and the rest of the body.
☞ Lifts head up while leaning on forearms
By one month, your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles are stronger than at birth, and they have better head control. If they’re on their stomach, they may be able to lift their chin. However, if you are carrying your baby, you will still need to support their head, which will lag if you try to lift them from a lying posture to a sitting one. Your baby’s back will be almost entirely rounded when held in the sitting position. However, they might be able to lift their heads briefly.
If you hold your infant in a standing position, they will flop down at the hips and knees. However, their walking instinct remains intact; when the sole of their foot is pushed against a flat surface, they will attempt to take a step.
Your baby’s hands are still usually clasped together. They will cling to something you offer them if your fingers are open for a moment before dropping it.
☞ Open and shut your hands
At first, their hands are frequently clasped tightly, with the thumb tucked between the fingers. They can mechanically grip objects, but they are not yet able to shake them or put them in their mouths. The hands and arms will relax in a month or two. In the third month, babies open and close their hands independently and often have their hands partly open. Babies can now hold a rattle in their palm and shake it.
☞ Pushes up from tummy time
By four months, most newborns can push up onto their forearms while lying on their tummy. Some newborns will begin doing this as early as two months of age. Your child will learn this skill at their rate.
When your baby is about a month old, it can hold its head up just long enough to move from side to side while lying on its stomach. By two months, your baby will be able to keep its head up on its tummy for longer and more stable. They may then attempt to push up soon after.
How Can I Help My Newborn Learn?
As you care for your baby, talk to them, smile, and play with them. Pay attention to and respond to your baby’s cues. For example, pay attention to how your baby moves or makes sounds when you talk. “Talk” to each other by taking turns. This is how your baby will start to speak.
In the first few weeks, you might want to give your baby some simple toys that are right for their age and that appeal to their sight, hearing, and touch.
Choose toys and mobiles with colors and patterns that stand out from each other. Strong contrasts (like red, white, and black), curves, and symmetry help a baby’s vision develop. Babies will interact more with their surroundings as they get better at seeing and learning to control their movements.
Final Thought How to Take Play with a Newborn
Playtime is a terrific time for you to get to know your infant and for them to learn about their surroundings. You can play with your newborn in various ways, depending on their age and developmental stage. Choose toys and activities that will stimulate your baby’s senses and help them develop fine and gross motor abilities. You can play with your baby with a bit of creativity and teach them about the world around them simultaneously.