There are toys for kids of every age: newborns, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school age and onward. Mechanisms that enhance coordination, motivate speech, educate and encourage creativity and imagination. Kids need to play. Playing helps kids grow, mature, learn and process.
But what about new babies?
Whether you are a first time parent or seasoned, it’s often perplexing to know how to spend your time with a newborn. When I became a mom for the first time, I found myself struggling with the adjustment from working to tending to a new life. How should you spend your time? How should the baby spend her time? Here are a few ideas to fill your newborn hours:
You are told this by everyone who stops by. “Make sure to sleep when the baby sleeps!” But it’s a hard habit to get into, even when you are drop-dead tired. Or, you have the idea that you can still lead your former life, but on 1/10 of the sleep. Don’t fight it. Sleep when you can. It may seem like a strange “activity” to do with your baby. Both of you will both be better for it.
- Walk it out
New moms easily get cooped up in the house for the first few weeks post-delivery. Whether it’s fear of germs or not sure how to manage an outing, many find themselves claustrophobic with a new baby. So my advice: educate your baby to the Great Outdoors! Use that brand new stroller you got for your baby shower and take a walk. Walk around the neighborhood, walk around town. The baby will enjoy the new views, and you will both benefit from the fresh air. If it’s winter or bad weather, walk your local indoor Mall. I used to love meeting with other new moms for a few laps around the Mall before grabbing lunch in the food court!
- Take a drive
Load your new bundle of joy into their carseat, strap yourselves in and set out on an adventure! Go with or without a destination. Maybe it’s a good day to visit Grandma or attend a play date. Maybe it’s a good day to weave around the scenic countryside. The new sights will engage your baby, and they’ll enjoy the gentle motion of the car (which will probably put them to sleep!). A drive is a great way to get out of the house and into new surroundings.
- Dance Party
When I have a bad day, I have a credo I live by that never fails: Dance it out. Maybe I’ve taken too many cues from Grey’s Anatomy, but there is something to be said for the therapeutic nature of listening to music and moving your body to the beat. Pick up your baby and sway to the music. Or, let your baby watch you rock it out to your favorite tunes; you might get a smile or laugh!
(Have I mentioned this already? DO IT)
- Tummy Time
Your pediatrician is always telling you of the importance of Tummy Time. Some babies love it, some babies hate it. But all are in agreement: it’s important. So set your new baby on the floor with a mirror near his face so he can see himself (he’ll probably be fascinated). Get on your tummy so you can talk together. Or let her lay on your tummy for some fun parent-baby bonding time.
- Put a Sling on It
I was not a big fan of baby carrier or slings with my first child. By the time I had my second, I was shown the ways of a mei tai -style carrier, and my life was forever changed. Babies love the closeness of a good carrier, and you will find you can do so much more (together) when utilizing a carrier. If you only have one child, get some housework done by putting your baby in the carrier. Sometimes I would put clip on toys on the shoulder straps to engage her, or I’d just chat my way through chores. She was usually riveted (or sleeping). If you have more than one child, a carrier keeps you hands free for older kids. I hardly ever used a double stroller when my second was born. I’d put her in the carrier, and could hold my older daughter’s hand or push her in a stroller. Everyone wins: baby gets closeness to her parents, older child still gets focused attention, and you can do it all!
- Playdates: eHarmony for Parents
There is no better way to spend your days than with other parents. I love waking up knowing in a few hours I’ll be gathered at someone’s house, letting our kids play while the moms sit and catch up. Playdates are great for new parents even if your baby is not old enough to “play.” I’d get together with my new mommy friends, and we’d let the kids do tummy time together while we commiserated over our recent experiences (read: failures). Sometimes we’d go on walks together. The babies enjoyed the time with each other and the mommies loved connecting with other adults!
- Chat it Up
Did you know that one of your baby’s favorite sounds in the whole world is your voice? Through your voice, they learn emotion and language. They’ve heard your voice since they sprouted ears in the womb. And they will not tire of it easily. So spend time “chatting” with your bambino. Talk your way through chores, tell stories about your family and friends, narrate the making of dinner. Your baby is learning more than you know, and they will find everything you say fascinating!
There is no wrong way to spend time with you new baby! Enjoy these moments, whether you’ve done this numerous times before or this is a new experience for you. Make sure to get out of the house from time to time, and connect with other adults and parents. Community is a good thing! And don’t discount quality toys, even for newborns. Check out the infant products reviewed by Time to Play for some FUNspiration.