It’s been a few weeks since your baby came home and your head is still buzzing from competing demands and new routines. Feed baby, eat, sleep, change a diaper, return a text, shower…you know how it goes! Life is busy, so where does playing with your new baby fit in and what does that even look like?
The great news is that babies don’t need fancy books, heaps of toys or sophisticated electronics for healthy growth; in fact, their favourite play thing is YOU! A loving caregiver nourishes a baby’s brain faster and better than anything found in the stores. Each time you play with your baby, new connections are being made in their brain, opening doors to future learning experiences. Attachment between parent and child is like the foundation of a home: without the proper materials and supports, the foundation can become unstable. Taking the time to connect regularly with your young child builds a strong foundation for everything that comes next.
So does this mean you need to fit in a set amount of playtime everyday with your baby? No, but what it means is regularly doing meaningful things with your baby. Those everyday interactions will become special for you both, especially when your baby tells you by smiling, cooing or squealing with joy.
• Have fun with activities that also encourage new milestones. You can track your baby’s milestones. The Looksee screen includes age-specific activities for growth and development. Activities like peek-a-boo, mirror play, singing or books with textures are all perfect.
• When you play with your baby, watch for their “I like it” and “I don’t like it” cues, at times babies prefer to watch or just aren’t in the mood to play.
• Mode play behaviour for family and friends who may be unsure how to play with your new baby. Suggest some play ideas to get them started.
• Be present, and feel the connection as you get lost in the twinkle of their eyes
Playing with your new baby is about finding that thing that you enjoy together, and going with it. Is it Daddy’s funny faces? Is it Mommy’s off key singing? Perhaps it’s big brother’s impressions in the mirror, soft whispers, crazy kisses, family dance time on the carpet or simple story telling.
Whatever it may be, babies just want to be a part of your everyday world, so talk, sing, play, cuddle, and regularly express love for your baby in all the ways you know best.
Tell us how you like to play with your baby?
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.