When we are expecting our first baby, many of us imagine what our days at home will be like with a newborn baby, but some of it is based on imagery of a much-older baby, one that can smile and play peek-a-boo. A brand new baby is harder to read. “Are we having fun together?” many new parents will ask themselves. Or even, “What should I DO with my baby?”
For the first few weeks, your baby will be asleep most of the time, and when they’re awake, you’ll be mastering the feeding routine. There’s not a lot of room for other activities.
But, when your baby develops longer awake periods, you might be wondering exactly what to do. Here are some activities to do with newborns.
Getting outside introduces your baby to different sensations than the ones inside your home. The light and sounds are different outdoors and the feel of the moving air provides your baby with new information about the world around us.
Just as important, getting your baby outside your house is a confidence-building activity for you. It gives you practice with your new gear, such as a front carrier or stroller. And as you prepare to merge back into the world as a person who often has a baby in tow, you’ll benefit from taking “baby steps” toward doing errands and socializing. Start with short walks every day.
Even before your baby can focus their eyes on the book you’re holding, the sound of your voice is comforting and interesting. When you read aloud, you’ll use different words and tones than those you may be using when you dress and comfort your baby. Try both children’s books and snippets of whatever article you’re currently reading.
In fact, the best books for newborns don’t have any words at all. Adults can simply use their own observations to describe the pictures to their babies.
Learn Infant Massage
Choose a warm place in your home and place a towel on top of a large pillow in front of you. Put some baby-friendly oil within reach. (Our founder Zahra loves to use Burt’s Bees apricot oil on her son.) Lay your baby on this spa-like bed and undress them. Follow along with a YouTube video and use the oil, warmed by rubbing your hands together, to massage your baby’s hands, feet, arms, legs, back, and chest. This promotes bonding and also benefits your baby’s digestion.
Introduce High-Contrast Images
Your newborn’s vision is developing, and images with bold shapes against white backgrounds invite them to focus their eyes. A Montessori mobile or activity cards are designed for this purpose, but you can also show them things around your house: a large plant in front of a pale wall, window blinds with light poking through, or black-framed photos mounted in a white space. Tell your baby what you’re showing them, and give them time to notice the outlines of the objects.
Practice Independent Play
Although a newborn is not doing a whole lot of “playing”, spending time on a playmat with their limbs free from a swaddle or a parent’s cradling arms allows them to explore the space around them. They may bring their hand up to their face or stretch it out to the side. Again, this is an information-gathering exercise for your baby.
For you, it is a good practice to begin mastering daily tasks such as preparing food or taking a shower while your baby lays in their own space, which can be a crib, bassinet, or a blanket on the floor.
The Montessori approach encourages us to foster independence in children in an age-appropriate way at every stage.
Set your baby up for play by positioning materials in their line of sight, such as this set of black and white cards (the card stand flips around to reveal a mirror!) and then allow them to look around without interruption for a bit.