If you're anything like me, you spent a lot of your pregnancy thinking about how to get the baby out safely (those childbirth fears were REAL!) but not really planning on what to do with the baby when they arrive! Fast-forward, and your bundle of joy is here, doing not more than eating, sleeping, pooping, REPEAT so now it's time to think about play!
For your tot, play is not about toys as they’re still learning about their environment; they require a back and forth interaction with you. The sense of touch will stimulate your baby, sight, feel, cause and effect, and sound as they learn and develop.
Though your baby will mostly be asleep in those early days, there are some few hours that they will be awake. Some of this will be calm and content cuddles and other times they will meet your gaze and make sounds in a bid to get your attention: this means your little one wants to play.
So, how do you play with a little one that's not yet on the move?
Firstly, get down on their level - whether that be laying on the floor face to face or popping them in your lap. Then, have a go at these top tips below:
- Make eye contact. You are the best toy your baby will interact with. Your baby will learn to recognize faces and expressions with this game. Try our your best surprised face, smiley face, shocked face or whistling mouth and see what your bub does!
- Involve brightly colored toys that will attract your baby's attention as you move the toy side to side to help grow your baby’s visual skills. A cute game we loved was tying a string of baloons above bub and lay with them as they gaze at the movement.
- Stick out your tongue at your baby playfully, and they will try to mimic. Try this in front of a mirror and watch them interact with their new "friend".
- Talk and read to your baby they will learn to listen to your voice. If you don't know what to say, simply narrrate your day; "look we're doing the dishes! That's a dirty plate." - it may seem a little silly but their language development will thank you for it!
- Massage and snuggle your baby. You can do this special bonding after baths or diaper change. Add a few turns of "Round and round the garden" with your finger on their belly!
- Offer interesting objects to touch and kick. These variety of textures will develop the baby’s sensory skills and learn cause and effect. Try this with anything from squishy, silicone toys to baby rattles - keep the variety coming!
- Sing and dance with your tot. Yes, your vocals aren’t the best, but your audience doesn’t know. This game will help soothe your crying baby as they learn. Dancing will make the baby feel more comfortable in your arms as you both rock to the beats (and will help soothe a crying baby too!). If nursery rhymes aren't your thing or you never remember the words - don't worry - the song doesn't matter, just sing your favourite music (but keep the volume low! No blasting heavy metal).
- Introduce tummy time. Pop bub on the floor facing towards you to strengthen their muscles. You can prop them up with a rolled towel if they need a little help.
So basically, when you're not drowing, nap-trapped under your sleeping baby or being a jersey cow on your tenth feed of the day, try to squeeze in a little play time!
Check out these other great resources for more play-inspo!