NEWBORN ACTIVITIES TO BOND WITH YOUR BABY
January 13, 2022
Sometimes, amidst all of the busyness and excitement of having a baby, you forget to simply slow down and play. Preoccupation with the million other questions and concerns can easily turn you into a task rabbit. While the first few months will have their fair share of difficulties, we’re here to encourage you to slow down, savor the quiet moments, and enjoy the times when you’re able to bond with your baby through newborn activities.
In between naps, feeding, checkups, and family visits, gaps will appear when you have the opportunity to get a little quality time with your baby. When that downtime arrives, you’ll likely start looking around the house for fun and engaging things to do with a newborn.
It’s too early for the football, right? Yes. But, there are plenty of newborn activities that will allow you to bond with your newborn and even share some of your passions or favorite hobbies.
In this article, we’ll share 5 ways to bond with your baby through spending time with them and participating in meaningful activities that also assist in your baby’s cognitive and physical development. Ultimately, these activities are intended to help support your baby’s growth in the following areas, among others:
- Language development.
- Emotional development.
- Memory and recall.
- Inter-personal communication.
- Self-guided play.
Books aren’t just for bedtime. Even though your baby might be used to hearing a story before they are put down, taking time to read in the middle of the day can be a special activity to share every once and a while. Aside from the thoroughly enjoyable cuddles and amusing reactions your baby provides while experiencing a story, there are a host of other benefits to frequent reading with your child.
Sure your baby isn’t going to jump right into Treasure Island or Harry Potter, but even babies will benefit big time from very basic books. Research shows that babies who are regularly read to are more likely to excel in at least the following areas:
- Vocabulary and language skills.
- Pattern recognition.
- Verbal expression.
- Understanding differences between elements like shapes, colors, numbers, animals, and more (depending on the subject matter of the book).
The emotional benefits of reading to your baby are also significant. Since even before they were born, your child has grown accustomed to hearing your voice (yes, even you, dads). Reading out loud reinforces a comforting emotional connection and bond between you and your baby. Experts also recommend adding expressiveness and variation to your reading to help your baby recognize the difference between emotional reactions and situations. This type of reading will bolster their emotional development, and their capacity for complex feelings like empathy and sympathy.
Although it’s not a face-to-face activity, walking is still an excellent way to get some much-needed exercise, fresh air, and shared time that’s not oriented around food, media, or toys. The simple pleasure of a walk is also very enjoyable for babies. If you’re using a baby harness or sling, your baby will find the rhythmic movements very comforting and calming.
Many parents even claim that walking in a carrier was one of the best ways to calm down a crying baby. Plus, the repeated motions help your baby develop a better sense of spatial awareness and balance. It’s important to remember that all of your baby’s systems are still in development throughout the toddler stage.
Fresh air and vitamin D are also crucial for your baby’s health. If you’re struggling to get your baby outside enough, your doctor might even prescribe vitamin D to ensure that their levels stay safe. So, go ahead get outside for a little sun, even if it’s just 15 minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the afternoon. Getting outside is also the most natural way to slow your baby’s sensory signals down, allowing them to rest from constant stimulation. This is a healthy way of reducing their stress and allowing them to spend prolonged periods of time focusing on one activity, site, or sound at a time.
If you want to add some activities to the mix, try walking to a local park that has small toys. Your child will love the experience of teetering around and exploring their physical surroundings (and limits) knowing that you’re there watching and helping if needed.
Don’t put up with feeling stuck inside anymore. Be ready for any adventure with the right high-end stroller and walking gear.
Playing with Toys
Self-guided and group play are incredibly important for children to learn from the youngest age. Their capability for self-guided play will be virtually non-existent as a baby, but they will love to interact with you and discover how to use their toys.
You can easily introduce them to new sensory experiences using toys. By playing with you, your baby will begin to take on a greater capacity for playing on their own, which occurs at different stages.
Here are our recommendations for some of the best toys to share with your child, even from a young age:
- Natural or colored blocks. Your baby will love stacking, sorting, and throwing brightly colored blocks. Help them develop an awareness of colors and hone their fine motor skills.
- This realistic telephone will have your little one pretending to talk to you all day. I know from experience because my one-year-old loves to fake call me and babble all about her day!
- Ease the teething pain for your newborn with a set of food-grade silicone teethers that neatly nestle on top of each other, and let your baby explore a variety of colors and textures.
Play or Listen to Music
Are you an aspiring musician who missed their calling, but you were really made for the stage? Pull out your guitar or that old keyboard and dust off the song sheets. Personally, one of my favorite pastimes is taking the guitar out of its wall-mounted hanger and watching my one-year-old’s eyes light up while she starts to jump around in excitement.
I’ve been having what we might call “tiny couch” (a blatant rip-off of NPR’s Tiny Desk series) concerts for my kids since only a few weeks after they were born. Over that period of time, i’ve seen their love for music grow and their appreciation for different styles come to life. Now, they ask for specific songs by name and we can spend the cold winter months jamming away in our living room.
Beyond trying to give them a love for music, i’ve always known that there are other, more significant benefits to playing music with kids. Don’t just take my word for it, here’s what scientists have to say about exactly how music helps a baby’s development.
Studies show that early exposure to music (even prenatal) has huge benefits for babies. First of all, the developmental capacities required to learn language and music are almost identical. So, both of these areas use and challenge the same part of the brain.
As your baby hits 3 or 4 months of age they’ll start to experiment (in case you haven’t noticed) with all the different sounds their little voice can make. Music is a great way to bring out their internal personality through sound. Encouraging your baby to sing and make sounds is a great way to do 2 things: get rid of the embarrassment around “sounding weird” (which is why many kids are hesitant to sing), and get them comfortable with talking and learning new words.
These are some of the primary benefits associated with playing music for (or with) your baby:
- Pattern recognition.
- Rhythm prediction.
- Language skills.
Even if you’re not ready to host a living room concert, music is still one of the best ways to bond with your baby. Put on some music and watch your baby’s face explode with joy. They love to dance and listen while spending time with you. Scientists also note that while musical training and experimentation are very healthy for kids, listening to music is still a great way to keep their brains active. If you want to encourage your child to experiment more with their capabilities, consider getting some basic percussion instruments like maracas or a xylophone.
Here are just a few suggestions for kid-sized instruments that will help your child unleash their inner performer and artist:
- A real “baby” grand piano, complete with 30 functioning keys and a small seat. The top even opens up!
- When they’re ready for the big time, get your little ones rocking with a miniature electric guitar that has a built-in amplifier.
- Some simple, colorful maracas will get the whole family shaking.
- Unlock all musical boundaries with a set of 3 different musical toys that explore tone, melody, and percussion.
Intentional Face Time
Babies directly learn how to react and respond emotionally by observing and mirroring facial expressions. To get the most out of this time together, we recommend seating your baby directly in front of you and engaging them in one-on-one interaction. You can use this time to talk to your baby and familiarize them with your voice, new gestures, inflections, and other crucial aspects of interpersonal communication.
If you can, try to keep technology and media (e.g., phones, computers, personal devices) out of the picture during these one-on-one sessions. Instead, let your baby be fully absorbed in looking at you and responding to your verbal and nonverbal prompts.
Making time for your baby is important no matter what you choose to do, and picking from any of the activities above will ensure that you’re getting quality time and bonding from day one. Explore our full collection of new toys, musical instruments, and books to discover your next great find.