When it comes to entertaining your baby; it can be hard to know where to start. They are so tiny and have such limited movement, that the options can feel fairly limited. The truth is, you don’t have to be signing up to every single baby class going and spending a fortune in order to entertain your baby; there are lots of small, practical things you can do at home to stimulate your baby’s senses. Here are just a few to get you started:
As a newborn, your baby’s eyesight is fairly limited and they don’t have the clarity of vision that we do. That said, within their first few months their ability to focus will develop, enabling them track objects, reach out for items and focus on faces in front of them.
If you want to help focus and stimulate your baby’s eyesight, the following options can help:
- Contrasting colours – picture books, play mats or materials with contrasting colours such as black and white or red and yellow are great way to attract your baby’s attention and encourage them to look around and absorb their surroundings. Even as a tiny baby, they can determine differences in shades.
- Mirrors are also hugely entertaining for babies. Whilst they are unlikely to understand at this stage that the person they see in the reflection is actually them – they will enjoy seeing the rebound of bright light as the mirror moves and angles in front of them.
- Peekaboo – Who doesn’t love a game of peekaboo!? Seeing Mom disappear and reappear can be lots of fun for young babies and is often the source of that very first giggle!
- Objects to reach for / hanging toys – When lying on a playmat or during tummy time, having bright colourful objects for babies to reach out for is another helpful way to improve their vision and hand-to-eye coordination. It may take them a fair few attempts, but it is great to observe as they reach out and try to touch the objects in front of them. Be prepared for lots of positive cheers and reinforcement when they finally make contact!
Your babies hearing started developing very early on in the womb, so already they will be able to recognise the sound of your voice and that of other family members, acting as a familiar source of comfort when they are upset or tired.
- Talking to your baby – about absolutely anything at all, is a great way to help your baby become more familiar with your voice and in particular, the way your voice changes with facial expressions.
- Reading aloud – is a calm bonding activity that allows you to stimulate both vision and sound together. Picture books with flaps, reveals and textures are a good place to start.
- Singing is a fun way to play with your baby whilst introducing the concept of rhythm and sound patterns. Adding in a musical toy or rattle can also help babies learn about cause and effect – for example – that the sound comes when they move their arm.
Babies soft and delicate skin is incredible sensitive to touch; from those comforting cuddles and pats to the tickling of their feet and stroking of their hair – these calm subtle sensations are a really practical way to help your baby feel relaxed and content.
- Baby Massage (which can easily be learned online from the comfort of your own home) can not only help you bond with your baby, but can be a useful part of your baby’s bedtime routine too. The tactile movements of baby massage can also help reduce colic and trapped wind; using subtle movements to help their digestion and blood flow.
- Bath time and water play are also fantastic ways to embrace the benefits of touch. The sensation of water droplets landing on their skin as well as watching water gently fall on to them from a cup or toy can serve as both a fun activity and a warm calming soother before bed.
- Texture – Finally, babies absolutely love touching different textures, from smooth skin to woollen carpets, blades of grass to grains of sand; allowing your child to experience the textures with both their hands and feet can be a really exploratory adventure for their senses.
A word of caution…
Don’t forget; just like us grown ups, it’s important to have some down time too. Trying to stimulate your baby too much can actually be a little overwhelming, so keep the entertainment to the periods of time when your baby is active alert, allowing them to rest and explore the world on their own terms too. Look out for their sleep cues and focus on calming activities before bed.