How to play with your baby
When your baby arrives, you may find some days pass in a little bit of a blur. Your newborn is likely to spend the majority of time feeding, settling and sleeping, making both the days and nights fairly busy. In those first hazy days and weeks, your only focus should be the needs of you and your baby, because all your little one requires aside from being fed and changed is your love and cuddles.
When to start playing with your baby
As you settle into life with your newborn baby, you’ll notice that she starts to have short periods of being awake without needing to be fed or changed. Although before long she’ll need another nap or feed (it’s a tough life being little!), you can use these opportunities to chat with and even play with your baby.
When your baby is very young, play is simply about interacting with your little one. Young babies aren’t able to formally play, but they love contact and companionship and, like anyone, will get bored if they don’t get it.
Ways to play with your baby
When your baby is having an alert period, you can start to ‘play’ by simply sitting and chatting with her. She can be on your knee, her playmat, in her bouncer or any other safe place she prefers. Babies love the sound of your voice, hearing you sing simple, fun and repetitive songs and watching your facial expressions - so don’t forget to pull some funny ones!
Most babies also delight in gentle hand clapping, playing peek-a-boo and being given little tickles, raspberries and kisses.
When do babies start playing with toys?
While your baby is young, there’s no need to fill her eyeline with toys. Young babies love to feel and explore textures but they don’t need lots of toys to keep them entertained.
Any toy you do offer your baby needs to be suitable from birth, as many older toys will be too sharp for your baby or present a choking risk. Babies love to put everything in their mouths, so only offer toys that are clean and suitable for newborns.
Your baby may enjoy playing with a fabric book or rattle for a few minutes at a time and exploring the sounds they can make as they do so. Newborn toys often focus on textures your baby can feel and mirrors they can spy themselves in, which can be entertaining for both you and your baby! You'll get more benefit from toys as they grow so don't worry if your little one only gives her attention to them for a short while.
Choosing toys and play equipment for your baby
Even from newborn, it’s useful to have somewhere safe to put your baby down when they’re not in their crib or your arms. This can be a baby bouncer, playmat or play gym, all of which are designed to offer both comfort and entertainment to your little one. Many have different fabrics and shapes for your baby to reach, grab and play with and some play music, too. As well as offering your baby some stimulation, baby bouncers, play gyms and playmats can also give you a precious hands-free few minutes to put some washing on, make yourself a sandwich or simply catch your breath!
Many parents also find it’s helpful to have a pram toy for being out and about with their baby. Pram toys can easily be attached and detached, so your baby can reach for it, watch it or hold it, and play with it at home as well.
So long as you have the basics covered, you can always add more toys to your baby’s collection as she grows. Lots of love, attention and small amounts of stimulation is all she needs at first, and going with your instincts is the best way to interact and play with your baby.