How to Play with Your Baby: 0-3 Months
Congratulations on your adorable new addition! You did it! You literally grew another human and now you’re home together. Since he isn’t walking or talking yet, it might seem like your days consist solely of changing diapers, feeding, burping and rocking him to sleep in those first few hazy months. But there are still many opportunities to play with your baby or make those moments playful!
If you’ve ever found yourself staring at your perfect baby thinking… “Okay, but what am I supposed to DO with him?” this one’s for you.
Include baby in the everyday moments. Don’t overthink it!
Your baby is part of your family now so you can include her in the everyday parts of your life! If you’re spending time outside, try wearing her in a wrap like this one. Sometimes when I’m folding laundry with my baby lying next to me and my toddler “folding” clothes I’ll pause to give my baby a little infant massage to find connection in that moment. The gentle, firm pressure used in infant massage can help stimulate their senses and can be done at any time of day – including after bath time or right before bed time!
Make diaper changes playful.
Use diaper changes as a time for an “I love you ritual” – a special way to connect with your child, created by Dr. Becky Bailey, the founder of Conscious Discipline. There are many to choose from, and both of my children have their own special rituals. Here is one of my favorites:
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
(Hold child’s hands up high, touch fingers and twinkle)
What a wonderful child you are!(
(Bring arms down to rest)
With bright eyes and nice round cheeks,
(Touch near child’s eyes and cheeks)
Talented person from head to feet.
(Touch child’s head and run fingers down to feet)
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
(Twinkle fingers together again)
What a wonderful child you are!
(Smile and hug)
Narrate your actions.
When your baby is alert, awake and happy it might feel like you’re unsure of what to do, but this is actually the perfect time to play with her.
Narrating your actions is a simple way to “play.” She has known your voice from the moment she could hear, so it’s naturally comforting to her. Singing and reading books aloud are other ways to spend time engaging with her.
Spend time connecting face to face with your baby so that he can see your eyes and mouth moving. Laying him on your chest can give him a new perspective of your face and helps strengthen head, neck and upper body muscles. Interact with him as if you were having a conversation, speaking in “parentese” – the high pitched sing-songy voice that babies love. And when you hear those first cooing sounds of pleasure, don’t worry if you might look totally silly doing everything possible to get him to repeat it! He loves to see the emotion and excitement in your face too!
Watch this still face experiment video to see how babies use the limited communication tools they have to generate a response from their caregiver when they have a “still face” and how they regulate again once their “play” resumes.
If you have an older child and are worried that the baby won’t get enough one on one time, it’s okay! Later born children benefit from overhearing conversations between you and other siblings as well. Did you know later born children may have a more advanced understanding of pronouns (he, she, them) thanks to overhearing these conversations? So #nomomguilt here!
Social Media Manager, Babymoon Inn
Michelle Petkovic received her degree in International Affairs from Sweet Briar College. She is a mother of one energetic toddler and one newborn, and she loves spending time outside camping, hiking and traveling with her family.