If you're a new mom you may be wondering, "what am I supposed to do with this baby during his/her awake time??" The doctors and several websites will tell you to "play" with your baby to stimulate their brains and eyes as well as to help with bonding. That sounds well and good, but how exactly do you play with a baby that can't see, can't hold anything and pretty much just lays there?? Here are some activities I use during play time with my little girl:
Things You Will NeedMommy, baby, high-contrast toy
1. Find a high contrast toy - black, white and red work best, but anything with really bright contrasting colors will work. These days so many baby toys are in pretty pastels, but baby will have a hard time focusing on these toys. A newnborn's vision is limited, they see best from 8-10 inches from their faces. Hold the toy at this length until you can see that baby has seen it and then very slowly move it a little to one side and back again. If you move too fast baby won't be able to track it and if you go too far to the side, baby will lose sight of it.
2. Sing and "dance" with your baby. I always make up goofy songs for my daughter and she loves to hear mommy's voice. Grab ahold of your baby's arms or legs and move them gently around in dancing motions. Help baby to do the can-can or move his/her arms around and do the Cabbage Patch. Not only will baby get a kick out of this activity, but the movement will help build muscle and will also tire baby out so that they sleep better!
3. Tummy time. It's never too early to start tummy time. Early on you need to be extra careful when placing baby on his/her tummy - never walk away from them because they may turn their face into the floor or blanket and have breathing problems. Just let baby lay on his/her tummy until he/she starts fussing. Really new babys with weak neck muscles will "head-bang" so be careful that baby is on a soft surface.
4. "Pull-Ups". Some moms are reluctant to do this because they may think it hurts their babies, but it is perfectly safe if done correctly. When baby is laying down on his/her back, let baby grab onto your fingers and grib baby firmly in return and very slowly and gently pull as if to sit baby up. Your baby should clench his/her neck muscles in order to hold their head up. If your baby's head flops back at this point, support their head and lay him/her back down - your little one is a little too tired for this excercise. If your baby holds their head up continue to do this exercise until he/she can't hold their head up any more. This exercise strenghtens the neck and core muscles and will aid in good head support and with sitting up.
No matter how you play with your baby, your nearness and the sound of your voice are great stimulants for your little one.
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