7 ways to get active with your newborn
For the first six months of a newborn’s life, the world is full of exciting sights, sounds, and smells they’ve never experienced before! Kids spend their first few months learning to interact with the world, their bodies, and the people around them.
Activity is critical to a newborn’s development. Obviously, you won’t start out with chess games and fencing lessons, but the simplest — and most enjoyable — of activities can become educational, skill-building moments for your baby.
When parents do these activities with their babies, they discover wonderful bonding moments as Baby begins to recognize the faces, voices, and touch of their parents. Plus, you get the added benefit of all those baby giggles!
Here are 7 simple ways to get active with your newborn:
1. Dance it out! Music is a great way to connect with your baby. Put on some gentle tunes, hold your baby close to your chest (or use a secure wrap-style carrier), and dance slowly to the music. The gentle movements encourage your newborn’s spatial awareness, and the closeness to Mom and Dad boosts emotional bonding. Plus, it’s a low-energy way for new parents to get moving!
2. Magellan Junior, world explorer. Visual tracking, tactile stimulation, and hand-eye coordination are some of the earliest things your newborn will learn to recognize and respond to. You can help your baby explore the world by introducing tactile toys, sound stimulation, and more. One of the easiest ways to do this is by practicing visual tracking: lay your baby down on his back and hold a brightly-colored toy or stuffed animal in front of his face. Move the toy back and forth and side to side, gently shaking the toy or touching your baby’s face to draw his attention. By following along with his eyes, your baby develops better vision skills!
3. Baby see, baby do. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! Newborns learn by example and by exploring the world around them. You can play simple imitation games with your baby to help her explore the basics of interaction and conversation. Start small, with activities you’ve already seen your baby doing on her own. Practice things like waving, opening and closing your fists, touching your nose, and clapping. Celebrate anytime your baby follows along, and be sure to dial back the difficulty level if she starts to get frustrated or confused.
4. Sit-ups for newborns, too! Who said exercise was only for adults? You can practice “baby sit-ups” by laying your baby flat on his back, then gently leveraging him up to a sitting position with full support on the backs of his arms. As your baby gains strength and starts to spend more time sitting up, you can switch to “sit-ups” where you pull your baby up slowly by his hands. The sense of touch will help build your baby’s body awareness, while the sit-up motion helps boost motor control and basic muscle strength.
5. Houston, we’ve got a baby. Are you raising a little astronaut? One of the simplest (and sometimes hilarious) activities you can practice with your newborn is by pretending your baby is piloting a rocket ship or airplane. With your baby belly-down on your lap, wrap your hands around her midsection to provide full support, and gently lift her up in the air. Complete the effect with up-and-down and side-to-side motions, like your baby is flying. (Sound effects optional, although they usually add some major laughs for Mom and baby alike.) This fun activity has the dual benefit of building body awareness and spatial awareness, and gives your baby opportunities to respond to stimuli like movement, sound, and laughter.
6. Kung fu (baby) shuffle. Your baby may be a long way from that black belt, but you can boost body awareness and range of motion with fun, tactile kicking exercises. One way to do this is by hanging pieces of tissue paper, toilet paper, or ribbon off a low, baby-safe edge (like the bottom of a couch or play table). With your baby on his back, guide his toes so his feet kick the hangings. After a while, your baby will realize he can make the paper move on his own! This teaches your baby things like cause-and-effect and sensory integration (and makes for some really adorable home videos, too).
7. Who’s that baby in the mirror? This final activity is a great way to involve older siblings or visiting relatives. Facing a baby-safe mirror, point out your newborn’s reflection and ask “Who is that?” in varying tones and volume levels. (You can even sing it, too!) As your baby starts to recognize reflections, add in favorite stuffed animals, siblings, or relatives, asking “Who is that?” whenever a new person enters the mirror frame. This game boosts visual, social, and emotional development — and we won’t lie, it’s pretty darn cute.
Staying active with your baby is a critical part of your newborn’s development. By trying a few simple, fun activities, you can boost your baby’s understanding of the world, her body, and her family to the tune of those wonderful baby giggles.
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