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How to Play with a One-month, Two-month, or Three-month Old Baby: 20+ Ideas for Newborn Play
The Importance of Playing with a Newborn Baby
It is well-known that newborn babies spend most of their time eating and sleeping. While those functions are key to a baby's development, it is also important to begin to interact with your baby. When my baby was just a couple of weeks ago, friends and family introduced us to the Baby Wise method by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. While there is an amount of controversy surrounding the book and my husband and I decided against utilizing the method, the book introduced an idea of a sleep-feed-play cycle. The benefit to playing with a baby after he or she eats is that the baby does not immediately fall asleep and thus does not rely on food to fall asleep. I was intrigued by that concept, but had no idea how to play with an infant child. After some reading, online research, and experiments of my own, I put together some activities that I've enjoyed doing with my baby.
Mental and Learning Activities
Even newborn babies can respond to certain stimuli and start learning. As your baby is still in early developmental stages, it is best to go simple.
- Playing Cards- As the eyesight of a baby is still developing, they can see easiest in black and white. For this reason, playing cards can be stimulating. To play with your baby, try fanning out several playing cards and rotating the card that your baby sees.
- Faces- Science shows that babies are able to focus on faces at an early age. Try smiling at your baby or making funny faces for him/her. Sticking out your tongue is also intriguing for a baby.
- Reading- Just as it was important to read to your baby while baby was still in the womb, reading to an infant is also critical for building baby's brain and synapses.
- Singing- Babies love hearing mommy and daddy's voices. Singing and cooing to your baby will be comforting to baby and will also help their learning.
- Home Tours- Treat your home like a museum. All things around your house are things that your baby has never seen before. Walk your baby from room to room and describe items that you see. You can point out wall art, furniture, etc. Your baby will enjoy the new sites and will also benefit from your speaking.
- Simple Sounds- Make very simple sounds that your baby can observe. Try clapping, snapping, or clucking for baby.
Exercise with your Baby
A key priority for most women after giving birth is to get back into shape. It can be hard to find the time to exercise though with a new baby around. While it is not recommended to jog with a baby until the baby is at least 6 months old, there are plenty of exercises you can do with a newborn baby.
- Walk- Take the baby for a walk around the neighborhood. Be sure to dress your baby appropriately for the weather and make sure to shade the baby from the sun.
- Squats- You can do squats while holding your baby or wearing your baby in a carrier.
- Lunges- You can do lunges while holding your baby or wearing your baby in a carrier.
- Arm raises- Lifting your baby up and down will help build arm muscles and can often soothe a fussy baby.
- Leg Lifts- While holding your baby or placing him or her in a carrier, you can lift your legs straight in front of you one at a time or raise them and move them to the side to side.
- Ab Work- You can work on crunches or ab strengthening stretches with baby rested securely on your tummy.
There are moves you can use to exercise your baby too!
- Bicycle- Move your baby's legs in a bicycle motion to increase circulation.
- Arm Raises- Move your baby's arms from below their tummy to above their head.
- Kicks- Help baby to kick in front of him/her.
- Big Claps- Help baby to clap in large motions.
- Tummy Time- There is a big push to get babies started out playing on their stomachs. While a newborn won't be able to play for long on their tummies, you can start them out for a couple minutes here and there to get them used to the sensation.
These are just a couple examples of exercises I did with my newborn. Consult your doctor or fitness expert before beginning a workout routine and for specific direction on how to perform exercises correctly. Be advised that any exercise program may result in injury. By voluntarily performing any exercise, you assume the risk of any resulting injury to you or baby. Be safe and have fun!
Toys for your Infant
There is not much need to spend a lot on toys for baby at early ages. Babies are most interested in textures, high-contrast, and simple items at this stage.
- Rattles- Rattles provide a fun sound for baby. Keys are a free rattle. Also, you can fill up a Tupperware or old spice bottle with small objects. Just make sure that the lid is secure so that there is no way your baby can choke on small objects.
- Textured Toys- Small, plush, stuffed animals are appropriate for a 1 or 2-month baby. There are also many children's books that provide different textures on different pages. As your baby is still small, you may need to help your baby touch the pages. A trip to your closet could also be a fun activity. Let your baby touch the various textures of your clothes.
- High Contrast Items- You can find several toys that have bright colors or are in black and white. These toys will be good to wave in front of baby or allow them to view for periods of time.
- Homemade "discovery" Toys- Simplicity is key! Take a stick-like object (spoon, pencil, etc) and tape various colored fabrics or shaped pieces of paper to the end. Dangle in front of your baby and describe what they are seeing.
- Play Mats/Gyms- Newborn babies can already be intrigued by toys on a play mat or in a play gym. Lie them down and help to show your baby the different toys available.