I know it seems crazy to consider playing with your newborn. All they do sleep, eat, poop, and repeat right? As they get just a little bit their wake windows widen and there is finally time for newborn playtime!
Newborn playtime is really rather simple, it’s mostly about introducing your baby to new sensory experiences. New sights, textures, sounds, and movements.
If your looking more for newborn care must haves I have a blog post all about what our essential supplies were!
Try and Try Again
I broke down my newborn playtime ideas into a month by month format, but PLEASE continue to offer the previous month’s activities and don’t be afraid to circle back to something that they seem uninterested in!
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Newborn Playtime at 1 Month Old
If you have one “toy” for your newborn make it high contrast. Propping up some high contrast cards is great for newborn playtime. In these first three months, their vision is not the best so the bold high contrast patterns are easier for them to focus on!
Tracking is when your baby follows a visual or sound that moves around them. Often the first tracking is just visual, a great option is to use a high contrast card or toy and move it back and forth. Another way to work on tracking is to shake a rattle near one ear and then keep shaking it as you move to the other ear.
High Contrast Mobile
Using anything high contrast is sure to grab your newborn’s attention and a mobile is great for them to watch and develop their tracking and depth perception. This is perfect for newborn playtime from the very beginning! (Check out my DIY Montessori Munari inspired mobile here.)
Sing and Dance
Music and movement do wonders to calm a fussy babe! You can sing simple nursery rhymes or belt some Broadway tunes. Whatever you enjoy! Your newborn will just love listening to you and as they get older may even “sing” back to you! Dancing can be in your arms as you bop and sway around the house or can be as simple as wiggling their legs and arms while they lay in your lap. Just get moving to a beat!
A good massage isn’t really what we think of as playtime but your newborn will love all the contact and the gentle massage of their muscles will help them become more aware of their body!
READ and TALK TALK TALK
I shouldn’t have to tell you, but read and talk to your baby as much as you can tolerate. Read whatever you want. They are not comprehending the words so much as the cadence and language structure. When they start to talk back to you, pause and listen or give them the chance to add to the conversation!
Newborn Playtime at 2 Months Old
A color gradient mobile is beautiful to look at and helps your baby develop their depth perceptions and visual discrimination. (Check out my DIY version here)
If you can get a small mirror mounted low on a wall for your newborn playtime I would highly recommend it. If you can’t mount a mirror there are little mirrors you can prop up as well. Babies LOVE to look at faces and they really like to look at their own face. I found adding a mirror really helped with longer stretches of tummy time.
This does double duty as a toy and a baby containment device. You can opt for a bouncer with nothing over it or a bouncer with a little toy bar that go over. Plenty of options but chances are your little will love the bouncing as much as any of the toys
Most baby play mats or play gyms are honestly too busy and overwhelm your little newborn. If you can, opt for a simple wooden one where you can change out the toys to keep things interesting without it being overwhelming. You also want to make sure and hand the toys to either side of the gym to encourage turning their head or low enough that they can actually engage with the toys not just look at them.
We have used a nursing pillow and a rolled-up blanket for this but they also have props made specifically for tummy time to help lift your baby up a little higher and allow for a new take on tummy time. We like to add a book as well either propped up or laid down flat for her to look at, again its an easy addition that keeps tummy time interesting. (Do you see a trend?! lol)
These are a great addition to newborn playtime and can be used in a few different ways. The most obvious is simply laying the silk over the baby and letting them feel and manipulate the fabric. The thin lightweight material makes it easier to grab. Another fun way to play is the beginnings of peek a boo. Now they won’t really understand the game but they will react the feeling of the fabric on their face and the sudden reappearance of your face when you pull it away. These are just great open-ended materials to add to your collection
Newborn Playtime at 3 Months Old
This is a great way to get a mobile moving if there isn’t a breeze in the room or if you want to make a mobile out of a toy that otherwise just dangles. The Movement will catch your babe’s attention and help them work on their visual tracking.
We really enjoy the Skiwsh as it has lots of different bars and bands, it is easy for her to get her hand in and grab ahold without really knowing what she is doing and the thin bars make it easier for her little hands to grasp. Extra bonus the little wooden beads are very pleasant to listen to. We only just introduced the Winkle and she took right to it for many of the same reasons as the Skwish
Hear me out. Under supervision all kids like balloons. Newborns are no exception. As they start to kick more and more try tying a balloon to their foot and letting them go to town kicking. They will be mesmerized by the balloon dancing over them. When the helium starts to die on you hang it on the baby gym so they can bat at it, This is probably not an everyday kind of play but a fun treat for something new to do!
Your Newborn Loves You Most of All
Newborn playtime doesn’t need to be fancy and really they just love to see and hear you so if all you can muster is to read a book or play peek a boo then your doing great!