3 Simple Activities to Play with Your Newborn Baby (Ages 0-3 months)
Bringing your baby home from the hospital is one of the most exciting and quickly changing times for new parents. Once you’ve found your rhythm for feeding and getting the little sleep that you can, then you begin to wonder what to do the rest of the day and how you’re supposed to play with a new infant that can’t move, talk or engage with you.
In this post, we’ll break down three of our simplest activities that will help show you the types of movements and ways to play so that you can start having fun with your baby and helping them grow.
“What what are we supposed to do all day?”
Many new parents find themselves asking this question the first few days or weeks at home with their new baby. And we get it. It’s not something you’ve probably thought about until this very moment, but you’re not alone. We all feel that way when we’re doing something for the first time, and the good news is that we’re here to help.
Playtime should be age-appropriate
The most important things to remember are to give your baby undivided and loving attention, have patience, and to understand what is appropriate for their age so that you can support their growth along the proper milestones. A “milestone” is just a fancy word to refer to the things that your baby likely should be doing by a certain age.
For example, with an infant one of the first things to look out for in the first few months is eye-tracking. When your baby follows you when you move around, this is a big step for them!
The more obvious things you may be expecting your baby to do like sitting and crawling for babies, come a lot later down the road in their development, so don’t expect them to all happen these first few weeks.
Why is infant play important?
The time that you spend playing with your baby is incredibly important to their health and development. Through play they will learn about themselves, their home, their own body and their environment. By practicing specific movements and exercises, they learn how to coordinate their own body movements that lead to neurological developments and physical milestones like rolling, crawling and walking.
“From birth to age 5, children rapidly develop foundational capabilities on which subsequent development builds at a pace exceeding that of any subsequent stage of life. What happens during the first months and years of life matters a lot, not because this period of development provides an indelible blueprint for adult well-being, but because it sets either a sturdy or fragile stage for what follows.“
To an infant, “playtime” doesn’t mean that you need to have organized games or activities for them to do. Things as simple as feeling different textures in a book or outside can help develop their sensory perception. Something as easy as infant-directed speech (Talking directly to your baby) can help them start to build their language and communication skills.
Let's get started...
#1 Tummy Playtime
How do you do it: Put the baby on her tummy and play by gently touching her body, shaking rattles, or laying down eye to eye with her. Start with 1-2 minutes of tummy time after each diaper change as she grows more comfortable. For some extra skin-to-skin bonding, you can do this with her lying on your chest.
Why it’s important:
Tummy time strengthens your baby's head, neck, and core muscles, which are essential to key growth stages—like sitting, crawling, and moving around. Tummy time can also reduce head flattening which may require medical intervention later on.
#2 Baby Playtime Activity
How do you do it?
Lay baby down in front of you on her back. While supporting your baby's back, shoulders, and head with your hands, raise her into a sitting position and lower her back down and repeat. Around 8 weeks, she should be strong enough to support her head with minimal to no “head lag”.
Why is it important?
Sit-ups help build your baby's neck, core strength, and balance, as well as being good practice for learning to sit. If your baby is younger than 8 weeks, you may need to help support her head.
#3 Tour de Baby
How to do it: Lay your baby on her back with feet pointing toward you. Pick her feet up and gently move them in slow circles to simulate pedaling a bicycle. Say “go” and ”stop” when you start or stop pedaling her legs.
Why is it important? This pedaling motion helps strengthen your baby's core, and the auditory cues help build her hearing. This exercise can also relieve stomach discomfort in the digestive tract.
Your Playtime Will Grow and Change Together
As your child moves out of the first three months, they will continue to benefit from playtime as they learn how to talk, giggle, socialize, and they will develop and test out their fears as well. And you may also find out through play that your child has a particular interest or passion for a type of activity that you can support, such as music, art, or dance.
Looking for more ideas for activities?
If you enjoyed these three simple activities, there’s tons more where they came from. Grab your own copy of Curious Baby Activity Cards< for 40+ activities that you can do at home with your baby from birth to 12 months. /span>