Many of my clients ask me what activities you can do with your baby in those early weeks and months. Obviously in the very first weeks your baby is going to be very sleepy and will probably only wake for a feed before going straight back to sleep.
Around 4 – 6 weeks babies tend to ‘wake up’ and spend some time awake either before or after a feed. This is a great time to start some activity time for them, obviously if your baby is awake early than 4 – 6 weeks start then. Be aware activity time may well only last around 10 minutes before they start getting sleepy. Don’t worry they will soon start being awake more!
The play mat is a great toy for your new baby especially if it has a mirror attached to it. Tiny Love makes a wonderful collection of play mats, including one that is a bit larger and great for twins. Make sure your play mat has high contrast colours, black and white or bright primary colours are best. Remember your baby’s eyesight is not fully developed and they see high contrast much better than soft pastels. If you feel physically able to lay down with your baby while they are on the mat then do and explore together.
Black and White Images
As I have just mentioned about babies love high contrast colours so black and white images are a brilliant way to entertain them. You don’t need to go out and buy anything either as long as you have some white paper and a thick black pen. Draw a simple smiley face, straight lines, a target or zigzags. Really any pattern will do and place the picture around 8 inches away from your baby’s gaze and watch how they try to focus in on it. There are also many books you can get that also have these images in them.
Face to Face Time
Again when you are feeling physically able, sit with your knees up and rest your baby on your thighs so they are looking at you. If your baby pulls a face make the same face back at them. If you stick your tongue out at your baby they will eventually do it back to you. Babies love looking at faces and no one more so than their parents. Talk to your baby you may even get a gurgle or a smile as a reply.
I’m sure you will have heard that putting your baby on their tummy is very important but did you know why? Since the introduction of the back to sleep campaign to help reduce cot death babies are spending much less time on their tummies. Tummy time helps your baby to develop their muscles so they can lift their head and eventually crawl. It is also very important as it helps to prevent flat heads. You can place your baby on their tummy on their play mat or on your chest if you are sat in a reclined position. You could also do it during nappy off time and combine the two activities
Many people will find that their baby will cry when they are put on their tummy. Don’t panic it’s not because they don’t like it, it’s just a new experience for them and they need to get used to it. Try lying down with them and keeping them company and showing them a rattle or a black and white image to keep them distracted.
Nappy Off Time
Something I really like to do particularly before bath time is let baby have a bit of time with their nappy off. Imagine spending all your time night and day with a big old nappy on. It must feel so nice for them to have a bit of freedom and if they have any kind of nappy rash air is a great healer. I would highly recommend placing your naked baby on a towel or a change mat as they may well have a little wee!
By Mary Ashton, Our Resident Maternity Nurse