Not just tummy time! 11 ways you can play with your newborn

A newborn's daytime wake/sleep cycle is 45 to 60 minutes of awake time - this includes all the time spent feeding and burping, which can take pretty much the whole hour! At around 6 weeks your baby will extend their awake time to roughly 1 and 45 minutes - leaving you with a little more time to interact, bond and play. So what exactly can you do within this time? Can newborns play?

The truth is, play may feel a bit one-sided for a while but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Try:

  • Imitating all the little facial expressions they make: yawning, grimacing, smiling or poking out your tongue. When they start making sounds and noises, repeat them back. Imitating is one of the best newborn activities for development
  • Sing and enjoy nursery rhymes together. Rhymes like 'this little piggy went to market' and 'round and round the garden' are great and include lots of tickles
  • Reading to your baby, varying the pitch of your voice when you talk. Hold the book close so your newborn can see the images - black and white is best. The high-contrast designs will help calm and soothe your baby as well as stimulate their visual and cognitive development
  • Tickling, blowing raspberries, counting fingers and toes
  • Giving your baby different things to look at - take them on a house tour or a walk around the garden. Point things out to them as you go
  • Help them explore their senses - let them splash in the bath, feel different textures. Gently rub toys/objects on their hands, arms, face or legs so their brains start to recognise all the different textures and sensations
  • Use rhythm and motion - play music with them, rock them gently as you hold them
  • Tummy time and floor play. Tummy time helps them practise holding their head up, and they can see things from a different point of view. Tummy time might be very short, and sometimes lying with them or showing them a toy may help. A little frustration is normal and helps them learn, but be guided by your bub as to how long they can tolerate it
  • Play peek-a-boo
  • Gently rub or massage all the parts of their body from toes to back and all the way out to their fingertips
  • Face to face chats. Sit up with your knees bent and prop the baby against your legs. Tell them all about your day and make up silly little stories. They are drawn to familiar faces and the more they see yours up close, the better they will respond when they see you if they are in discomfort

Tania of LMB

*These ideas were adapted from information provided by Plunket.

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