The first 8-12 weeks of life your baby is working on gaining weight and growing. This looks like frequent feeds with not a lot of periods of sleep in between. The sleep deprivation is real, but it does get better, we promise! Below are some ideas of how to play with a newborn to promote building new brain connections, process their surroundings, and explore their senses.

Promote Development

To promote better sleep, feeds, and growth and development, it is important that your baby stay within her suggested wake windows to avoid getting over tired or stimulated. For a newborn, which is typically considered birth to about 8 weeks of age, the recommended awake time is 45 minutes or less. 

This 45 minute wake window is from the time they wake up, including feeding. This does not leave much time for play. Don’t worry; play is not the top priority at this stage of baby’s development. As your baby gets older, the awake window stretches to 60-90minutes. We start to see this around the 5-12 weeks mark. At that time there is more awake time to play with your newborn and they are also growing more interactive with social smiles and those adorable coo’s. 

How To Play With A Newborn

  • Mobiles that can be attached to car seats, floor time activity mats, rockers, etc. promote visual exploration. Lie down beside your baby and talk about what you see, different textures you feel, and more senses around you.
  • Anything with a black and white pattern such as soft toys and books capture baby’s attention at this stage. High contrast images such as black and white are interesting to infants as their vision develops.
  • Toys that make sounds, such as rattles with handles help baby learn how to track objects by sound  and work on grasping objects.
  • An activity mat that plays music is great for gross motor development as baby learns to reach, practice tummy time, and eventually roll. How to play with a newborn in this scenario can simply be putting objects to the side so baby needs to turn her head or move her arm; mirrors are great! Sing to her so she searches for your voice and learns how to move and manipulate her body.
  • Babies love hearing your voice; it’s soothing. Read to her! Even if she isn’t looking at the pages; she is listening and hearing a lot of new words. In the book “Brain Rules for Baby,” by John Medina, he discusses the importance of babies hearing 21,000 words a day to support language development.

Talking, making eye contact, smiling, and singing are all great ways to interact with your baby. All these different ways to play with your baby support his growth and development! To learn more about how to provide educational play, try out our online class: Encouraging Curiosity & Learning Through Play!

About The Author

Olivia Wojcik, RN has a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from SNHU, summa cum laude. She is a Certified Lactation Consultant through ALLP and Reiki level II practitioner. Olivia is trained as a Sleep Coach and Newborn Care Expert with BBN&N. In addition she is the mother to a beautiful two year old girl.