You have a newborn baby? Congratulations! You brought your little miracle home and now you can’t wait to start playing, interacting, and loving that baby. But wait a minute, your newborn is showing no interest in any of the activities you planned, or the mountain of toys you bought. In fact, that baby just seems to want to lay there.
Your baby isn’t a dud. Most newborns just aren’t all that interactive. They need a bit of patience. After all, they just found themselves in this unfamiliar place and don’t even know how to work all their parts yet. In a way, they are trapped in their little bodies.
They will figure it out on their own with time. But there are activities you can try to help them on their way. Don’t forget that all babies are different and not every newborn will respond to all, or any, of these activities. Don’t be discouraged if your baby seems uninterested. Persist with patient love.
Hold the Baby
It may not seem that entertaining to you, but just being held can be fun for a newborn. The baby can feel your warm skin and smell your scent. When you talk they hear your voice. If you stand they can look around at the world from a different vantage point. If you move around, they feel the rocking motion of your body. Not only is it stimulating to their senses, it is also good social time with you and anyone around you.
Talk to the Baby
Stimulate the sense of hearing along with social skills by talking to your baby often. Narrate every day activities but also set aside some talking time. Position your baby so that they can see your lips, look them in the eyes, and talk about anything that’s on your mind.
Rock the Baby
Babies like to be in motion. For nine months they floated in liquid inside a moving body. Babies find motion soothing. Hold the baby in your arms and rock them side to side and up and down. Make sure you’re providing good support and aren’t being too vigorous. Newborns are fragile.
Face to Face Time
Studies show that babies love to look at faces more than anything else. They especially like it if that face is looking back at them. Set aside time to simply look at your baby, make eye contact, tell them how wonderful they are, and let them look back at you. Newborn babies are nearsighted. Keep your face about 10 inches away from your baby so that they can see you.
Kiss and Snuggle
Pretty self-explanatory. Set aside lots of time for cuddling and bonding.
Newborn babies are fascinated by faces. You may find that your little one stares at your face intently. At such moments, feel free to make yourself even more entertaining by making your face animated. Stick out your tongue and wait for the baby to notice. Then suck your tongue back in. Wiggle your eyebrows. Puff out your cheeks. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just make sure you go slow so that your brand new baby has time to focus their eyes on what you’re doing.
Read a Story
When you run out of things to talk about, sit down with a book and read your baby a story. Since your baby doesn’t know what you’re saying yet, it doesn’t even matter what kind of book it is. It could even be a newspaper of magazine. All that matters is that there are words you can read out loud.
When your voice needs a break, play music for some variety. Your newborn baby will love the new sounds. Try different kinds of music. You can play the radio, turn on the tv, or use one of the many baby gear items that play music. A newborn might not have preferences, but you may be surprised by how quickly babies can decide what they do and don’t like.
Babies like music, and the sound of your voice, so why not combine them? Singing is a great way to entertain a newborn baby while engaging the sense of hearing. You don’t even have to be any good at it. Your baby won’t mind.
My mommy and daddy discovered my love of dance when I was a day old. I recommend that you dance for and with your baby to cover all your bases. When dancing for a newborn baby, make sure you keep close so that you little one can see you. Brand new eyes can’t see very far. When dancing with your baby, hold that little person securely, then bob, weave, and twirl around the room. Most babies like movement and dancing provides some nice variety to your regular walking.
Tickle the Baby
Stimulate your baby’s sense of touch by searching for their tickly spots. Run your fingers over their tummies, backs, arms, legs, hands, feet, and face. Watch for any response. Found a spot that needs further investigation? Time to blow raspberries! Check for new tickly spots often by going over the entire little person again.
Give the Baby a Massage
Babies spend the first 9 months in a confined space. They are used to keeping their extremities tight to their bodies. In a way, they are curled up like a flower bud and they remain that way for a while after birth. Help your baby bloom by giving them a gentle infant massage. There are many great infant massage videos available to help you get started. Remember to go slow, be gentle, never force anything, and stop if your baby doesn’t like it.
Taking a Look Around
Give Baby a Tour
Since your baby likes to be in motion, why not take the time to give them a tour of the house. Take a walk around your home and talk to them about the different rooms, what they are used for, and the items in them. Your baby won’t understand what you’re saying, or be able to see everything you’re showing them, but that’s ok. It just means you can repeat the tour many times and it will still be fascinating to your little one.
You may be inclined to keep your baby safely cooped up inside your home, but the outdoors is a great place for a baby to try out their senses. It may not be a great idea to take a baby to crowded places before having their vaccines, but there is no harm in going for a walk around the neighbourhood. Make sure you mind the weather and dress the baby accordingly. Take your stroller, or wear the baby in a carrier if you prefer. Then head out and explore!
Go on a Tour of the Closet
Take your newborn on a tour of your closet. It’s packed full of colours and textures for a baby to explore. Get in there and engage the senses!
Let Baby Touch and Feel
Newborn babies don’t reach out their hands to touch things, but they generally will close their hands on anything that comes into contact with them. Let babies experience new sensations by allowing them to touch various household things of different textures. Just make sure anything you give the baby is safe for them to have. Keep in mind that there will come a time when anything you put in their hands will go into the mouth.
Toys are Always Fun
There are many things around your home and neighbourhood that your baby can look at. To round off the list of things to stimulate a baby’s senses, we can’t omit baby toys, mobiles, and play gyms. Although a newborn won’t actively play with toys yet, they will look at them. Hang colourful mobiles where your baby sleeps. Provide play gyms with removable toys that you can swap for new ones. Have play time with your baby and show them how toys work. Bring rattles and other age appropriate toys up to their hands. They will drop them, and that’s fine. Keep trying and one day they will surprise you with new skills.
Advanced Interactions for Newborns
Make Some Noise
Baby’s are born with a pretty good sense of hearing. Stimulate that sense by making a variety of interesting noises. Not too loud! We don’t want to frighten the baby. Shake a rattle. Crinkle some paper or foil. Ring a bell. Don’t have anything lying around? Your face can make some interesting sounds too. Be creative. Encourage the baby to turn their head towards the noise and if they do, reward their curiosity by allowing them to see what’s making that sound.
Do Vision Exercises
Newborn babies don’t see very well. Little babies can see high contrast images most easily and respond best to white, black and red. You can find and print pictures made specifically for newborns. Then hold the images about a foot away from the baby’s face. Try moving the image left to right. At first move very slowly and only a few inches. It takes time to develop the ability to focus both eyes on one object, and track that object while it’s in motion.
Spend some time holding the baby in front of a mirror. A newborn may not see themselves at first but sooner or later they will discover the baby in the mirror. Until then, a mirror is an animated image full of wonder.
Imitate the Baby
While you’re having social time with your little one, imitate their facial expressions. Your baby might realize what you are doing, in which case you are teaching the basics of a back and forth conversation. If your baby doesn’t clue in, your funny faces will still be entertaining.
The Eye Contact Game
Hold your baby comfortably in front of you with your face about a foot from baby’s face. Mommy likes to have me reclined against her thighs. Look at your baby’s eyes and wait until the baby makes eye contact. Now that you know your baby is watching you, stick out your tongue, make a sound, move your head, or make a face. Watch for a reaction. If the baby looks away, start over. If nothing happens but the baby continues watching, do a different sound, face, or movement. If the baby tries to mimic you, do the same thing again.
A newborn won’t understand the peekaboo game. In fact, newborn babies believe that if something leaves their field of vision, it falls off the face of the earth and ceases to exist. But you can play a modified version of peek-a-boo that will stimulate baby’s sense of touch and sight. Use a light and soft cloth for this. Gently wave it in the air above your baby and let it settle over them, covering the baby’s face. Then pull the cloth off along their body. Your baby will feel the cloth slide on their skin and be amazed that you, and the world, has reappeared from oblivion.