Newborn Activities, Learn and Play Together

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Between all those diaper changes, feedings, and naps there will be times when your newborn is awake and alert, ready to take in his surroundings and engage with you.

Every experience is fresh for your newborn, and this makes each little activity or interaction with you a chance to learn and bond. You may be wondering what activities you can do with your newborn when she is just days or weeks old, so read on for some great infant activities.

Sensory Activities for Infants

Stimulate your newborn’s senses with these sensory activities for infants:

  • Talk to your baby. You may be wondering why you would talk to your newborn when she can’t yet understand you, much less talk back, but babies pay special attention to the sound of human voices during the first month, especially high-pitched ones — like when you do “baby talk.” When you talk to her, she may turn her head toward you and may pay close attention. Look at how she reacts to your different tones — she may even make subtle movements of her arms and legs that are in time with your speech.

  • Read to your baby. Did you know that, even at this young age, your baby remembers some of the sounds he hears? Try it out: Read a simple story to your little one for several days in a row, and then wait a couple of days and read it again, observing your baby’s body language. Does he seem to recognize certain sounds? You might already have some story books at home, but if not, check out the best baby books according to Pampers Parents.

  • Listen to music together. Music is not just fun for you, but it can also be fun or soothing for your baby. Listening to music together can be a bonding experience as well, so put on some soft music, hold your baby, and gently sway to the tune.

  • Introduce different textures and surfaces. Let your baby experience different tactile sensations by placing her on various surfaces such as a smooth or a textured blanket, a towel, or a straw mat. Let her safely touch different surfaces when she's able: from sticky to smooth, bumpy to flat, cool to warm. You'll have as much fun as she does as you watch her explore.

  • Play tracking games together. Your baby’s vision will develop slowly over the first months and years, but you can start encouraging tracking by moving something eye-catching slowly in front of him. For example, move your head slowly from side to side or use a colorful or patterned toy, like a rattle, to try to catch his eye. Your little one might not be able to follow the movement to begin with, but he will learn soon enough. Read more about how your baby’s eyesight develops here.

  • Play with expressions. Smile at your baby, stick your tongue out, and make different expressions — the sillier and more exaggerated, the better! Get nice and close to your baby so she can study your face and its features. Before long your little one might start imitating your expressions, and you’ll love it when she smiles in response to your broad grins.

  • Sing to your baby. Sing your favorite lullaby or song to your baby. Even if you don’t think you have the best singing voice, you’ll find singing can have a soothing effect on your newborn when he’s feeling fussy.

  • Enjoy skin-to-skin contact. Hold your naked newborn (save for a diaper) against your bare chest and enjoy patting your baby and stroking her face and hair. Skin-to-skin contact offers many benefits for you and your baby, and it’s a great bonding activity you can do together.

Indoor Activities to Do with Newborns

You and your little one will spend most of the first weeks together indoors, but luckily there are plenty of fun infant activities you can do together inside:

  • Tummy time. Lay your baby on his stomach for a short time — just a few minutes at a time, two or three times a day — while he’s awake. Tummy time helps him strengthen his neck and shoulder muscles over time. Stay with him and watch him closely when he’s on his tummy. If your newborn doesn’t seem to enjoy tummy time on a play mat on the floor, try placing your baby tummy-down on your chest. Your newborn may enjoy it more if he is close to you and can see your face and feel your warmth.

  • Baby mirror games. Even when your little one is a baby, she’ll love looking at faces — even her own. A baby-safe mirror can help your baby explore the world. Try holding your baby in front of the mirror and let her look and maybe even reach out. You can even get baby toys with unbreakable mirrors built into them.

  • Baby massage. Touch can be a great way to bond with your baby, and giving your baby a gentle massage can be soothing for both of you. Of course, babies are more delicate than adults, so you’ll want to educate yourself and learn how to massage your baby. Maybe there is even an infant massage class in the area to teach you some safe techniques.

  • Puppet play. Although you can buy finger puppets online, you can also get creative and make your own hand puppet from an odd sock and some stick-on eyes. Play peek-a-boo, do silly songs and dances, move the puppet back and forth, and give your little one kisses with it. A puppet can be entertaining for both of you, especially if you make lots of funny sounds for the puppet as well.

  • Clap your baby’s hands together. Sing your favorite children’s song to your baby and gently clap her hands together in time with the tune.

  • Dance with your baby. Hold your baby, taking care to support his head at all times. Put some upbeat music on and gently dance together. Your little one will enjoy the movement with you.

  • Smiling games. Encourage your little one to smile by sticking your tongue out at her, or by pulling silly faces. Keep in mind, you may have to wait until your baby’s second month before seeing your baby’s true smiles. The smiles you see during those very first few weeks are more likely one of your newborn’s reflexes.

Outdoor Activities to Do with Newborns

When it’s a beautiful warm day, why not spend some quality time with your baby during a walk or at the local park or playground. Remember that your newborn should not be exposed to direct sunlight, so you'll need to find a shady spot to enjoy the outdoors. There’s plenty you can do together outside — here are just a few ideas:

  • Go for a walk. Put your little one in a stroller or a baby carrier, making sure she is dressed appropriately for the temperature, and has the shade of the canopy and a wide brimmed hat if it’s sunny out. Getting outdoors can be stimulating for your baby, and also gets you moving. As your little one grows you can start pointing out all the things you see to your baby.

  • Tummy time in the backyard or park. Lay a comfortable blanket down on a safe area — grass in your yard or in an area of the park free from anything like sharp stones — and give your baby a little tummy time outdoors.

  • Read to your little one in the fresh air. Reading with your baby is a good activity no matter where you are, but when the weather is nice, grab a book and a picnic blanket and find a good place to settle down together for some story time.

  • Play with bubbles. Blow some bubbles into the air and let your baby watch them. Babies love to watch bubbles, and it’s fun to do this outside on a nice day! Just remember to blow the bubbles away from your baby so the soapy water doesn’t get in your newborn’s eyes or on her sensitive skin.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Your baby learns about the world around him through interacting with you, playing with you, and going about his daily routine.

    Talk and read to your baby, and get close to him so he can look at your smiling face.

    Sing to your little one or play soft music. Hug and caress your baby, perhaps even giving him an infant massage.

  • Get creative and see what works. Perhaps your baby loves listening to you as you tell him a story, or likes to watch you play with a glove puppet.

    Perhaps your baby is drawn to a specific rattle or likes it when you pick him up and sway to music.

  • Focus on bonding activities when you're home with your baby, such as talking, singing, and reading.

    Touching, cradling, and stroking your baby can be a great way to connect.

    Infant massage, skin-to-skin contact, and tummy time are also great to do with your newborn at home.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to finding activities to do with your newborn baby, there are lots of things that help develop the bond between you. Talking and reading to your baby, enjoying tummy time and skin-to-skin contact together, and going for stroller walks in the neighborhood are all things you and your newborn might enjoy. Your baby is like a sponge, so all the things you do together help your baby develop and learn about the world. Enjoy this special time together and take lots of photos. Later on, you’ll love being reminded of the newborn phase and seeing how far your baby has come. As your child gets bigger, there are many more activities you can do at home with your older baby or toddler.

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.