Caring for a newborn baby is hard work, isn’t it? Who knew that a tiny human who sleeps 18-20 hours a day could make life so exhausting?!
THE FIRST THREE MONTHS
The first three months of a baby’s life truly are all about survival — survival for the baby and, even more so, survival for the parents. Between the seemingly never-ending rounds of changing nappies, feeding that
screaming precious babe every 2-3 hours, washing muslin cloths, wiping baby sick out of your hair, swaddling and then, somehow, getting him and you to sleep…it just. gets. exhausting.
Been there. Doing that.
And then, on top of all that, you’re supposed to play with your newborn baby.
How? What do I do? Where do I start?
Getting past the first three months and officially graduating from the “Fourth Trimester” (as they call it) is meant to be amazing.
1. Face time:
No, no, not the iPhone kind of Face Time, although quite a fun idea. I’m talking about the Goo goo ga ga, Mummy loves you, Who has squishy cheeks? kind of face time. Face time is the simplest, most engaging, most pleasurable form of play for your newborn. Research has shown that newborn babies prefer to look at faces over any other kind of interaction or toy.
In fact, they prefer to look at faces that:
A) are smiling,
B) have open eyes,
C) are looking them directly in the eye,
D) belong to their parents/caregivers, and
E) are responsive to their actions.
Spending time face-to-face with your newborn not only makes him happy, it also helps develop that bond between the two of you that will likely lay the foundation for a healthy relationship in the months and years to come.
2. Talk to her:
Talk to your baby during face time, but also talk to her during everyday tasks such as nappy changes, bath time, and feeding time. As she approaches three months of age, carry her in your arms and give her a tour of your house — she will be old enough to visually focus on the objects you include on your tour and can be introduced to the connection between language and objects.
Don’t be afraid to do “baby talk” with your baby. Research has shown that babies actually prefer this “infant-directed speech”. Recent research has found that, for babies born prematurely, being exposed to the sound of mom’s voice three hours a day during the first month of life (replacing the sound of the noisy incubator fan) improved development of the auditory cortex (the part of the brain responsible for processing sound input), as well as baby’s ability to focus on human voices in general. Research has also shown that it’s SUPER important to talk to your baby throughout the day because “the greater the number of words children (hear) from their parents or caregivers before they (are) 3, the higher their IQ and the better they (do) in school.” Yep, jabbering like a fool to your baby who doesn’t yet understand language is actually good and necessary for her. So go for it!
3. Hold him.
There are many benefits to holding your baby close to you during face time, talking time, and other times throughout the day. It helps him learn to feel comfortable and safe in your arms. It not only develops a bond between you and your baby, but it also allows you to facilitate skin-to-skin, which can strengthen that bond, enhance breastfeeding, fight postpartum depression, and even help regulate baby’s body temperature and heart rate.
4. Baby Massage
Massaging your baby is a great way to bond, calm and help with minor health issues. We've just started our class and the little man loves it so far!
5. Balloon Kicking
Loosely tie a helium balloon to one of your little one's ankles. As they kick their feet, they will have fun watching the balloon move with each kick. This is a great activity to help with coordination and teaching your baby about cause and effect.
6. Tissue Paper Kicking
Newborns love new sounds, particularly crinkly sounds. Laying a piece of tissue paper under you baby in the crib is a fun way for them to explore the crinkly sound as they move around.
7. Kicking In A Pan Of Water
Filling a small pan or plate with water and letting your baby's feet explore the wet sensation as they lay on their back is an easy way to entertain!