How to play with your newborn baby

Playgroup NSW


Why is play important even with newborn babies ?

Play is essential for your newborn baby’s development as well as their wellbeing.By playing with your baby and offering them simple and new ways to play it supports them to grow by building new brain connections ,by learning to speak and understand, to build muscles both large and smallPlaying with your baby also allows you to build a connection with each other , to build trust and to increase their feelings of wellbeing. Young babies are slowly beginning to spend more time awake and are becoming interested about what is happening around them .  They are growing every day and are becoming stronger and more able to make some co ordinated movements . Babies are increasingly able to respond to familiar voices and formulate responses such as smiling or cooing.

Playing with my newborn

In the first few months of a babies life, newborns depend on others to lead interaction. Play with newborns is simply about the interactions between you and your baby .  Toys and games are not essential at this time . The great thing about this type of early play is these types of play experiences and interactions can be adapted to the specific needs of the baby and the adult  as well as to the environment and time available .

It is important to provide your baby with opportunities to explore play in different types of environments where possible .Spend time with them in different rooms , in different environments such as indoor and outdoor spaces as well as spending time interacting with different people .

Here are 6 simple ideas on how to start playing with your newborn baby:

  1. Talk  ( or make sounds ) with your baby. When you spend time talking to babies in a conversation like way you will soon hear and see them start to respond to you in their own way with sounds, gurgles and smiles . By talking to your baby in this way often it shows your baby that conversations are about taking turns, about listening and then responding.
  2. Sing to your baby . Newborns love the sounds of voice, the different tones and repetitive words . You will find they love to hear and later join in nursery rhymes and songs that involve your touch like ‘Round and round the garden’. It is even more enjoyable for you both when you include your favourite songs and songs form your childhood of your culture.
  3.  Start reading to your baby – its never too early to start doing this . You can use simple larger picture books and try to hold the book close by as newborns can see only about 20-30 cm from their eyes. This will support your babies’ early literacy and language development as well as fostering a life long love of reading .
  4.  Use body language and expression to communicate with your baby . You could start by to making faces , smiling,  laughing , sticking out your tongue or blowing raspberries . Babies are mesmerised by watching faces and by doing so they are learning to communicate . A great time to try this type of play is when you are changing your babies clothes or nappy as you are close up face to face and helps to make this experience enjoyable for you both .
  5.  Use touch to allow your baby to explore their senses – Babies love to grasp and hold tight so you could give your baby some differently textured objects to feel – small soft squishy toys, smooth rattles or cloth books with pages of different textures.  Use your fingers to tickle , massage and touch your babies skin.
  6.  Aim to provide opportunities for your baby to have some time on their tummy each day . Start with very short bursts initially and extend the length of time to where your baby feels comfortable . Tummy time gives your baby a chance to gradually develop their muscles in order to begin holding up their head unaided .  Just a gentle reminder to ensure you are always supervising during any tummy time and to always place your baby to sleep in their back ( could link SIDS recommendations ) . Being on their tummy also allows babies to see the world around them from another perspective .


Read your child’s signals

When babies are very young they have a different way of expressing their emotions. As language is not yet available, they use other ways of telling you when they’ve had enough or when they are frustrated: they might use their hands, they may fuss and squirm, change facial expression, or they may cry. Watch your babies behaviour closely when they are playing and learn to identify these signals and what they mean . Remember some of these simple gestures can mean that your baby is ready to have a break from the play. This body language can also help you understand which experiences your child loves . And remember to enjoy these experiences , the more fun tit is the more you will both gain from the experience.




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