It’s time for a Parenting Pop Quiz!
What do all these things have in common?
- Patty Cake
They are all infant games you’ve probably already played dozens of times in the past week. (Does Patty Cake even count? He fell asleep in the middle of the thrilling “Roll it in a Pan” climax.)
You. Are. BORED.
Yes, you realize that interacting with your baby is a good thing to do…but how do you interact with someone whose favorite daily activity is having a Staring Contest with the dog?
I’ll tell you what you do.
You come here. (Well done.)
And I give you something magical called OPTIONS.
Here are 7 newborn activities to try this week. (And when you’re done with those…I’ve got a whole year’s worth of infant activities waiting for you!)
Before we dive in, though, let me give you some friendly advice.
Make your expectations LOW. The first few times you do these activities, you’ll probably feel kinda stupid. (I know I did.) That’s okay.
He’s not going to “get it” the first few times. The key here (and actually, with all infant activities) is repetition. The more often you do these, the faster those neurons are going to connect and the faster he will finally learn what you’re trying to teach him. So be patient!
7 Newborn Activities
to Try This Week
Are you ready to help your crosseyed newborn learn how to coordinate those peepers? Ready to help him reach that toy and experience some new sensations?
Newborn Activity #1: Copycat
This was one of my favorite newborn activities, but you have to play it within the first few weeks of life or the reflex goes away.
Hold your newborn so she’s facing you, about 6-8 inches from your face. When she looks at you, slowly stick out your tongue…and then pull it back in. Do this a few times…and then be amazed as she copies your movement! (It’s a party trick!)
What She’s Learning: Honestly, this is more a reflex than a skill…but I like think somewhere in that tiny cranium of hers, she is experimenting with the different things she can do with her tongue, the first muscle she will learn to use for feeding!
Newborn Activity #2: Tissue Toss
- A blanket for the floor
- Tissue paper (or a handkerchief or bright scarf also works), cut into a medium sized square.
Lay your newborn on top of a blanket on the floor so she is looking up at you. Hold the brightly-colored tissue paper about 12 inches from her face, then let it fall slowly closer to her eyes, and then move it back up again. Then do the same going right and left.
What She’s Learning: This game helps her practice her eye coordination as she tracks the tissue as it moves around her face.
Newborn Activity #3: Musical Mouth
Is your baby fussing at the doctor’s office and you need a quick distraction? This is the game to play. Put your baby in your lap, so that he’s facing you, slightly reclined. Then start making these silly noises as he gazes at your face:
- Clicking your tongue
- Smack your lips
- Coo like a bird
- Hum a favorite tune
- Making raspberries
- Blowing your lips like a motorboat
- Growl like a bear
- Moo like a cow (etc. etc.)
What He’s Learning: He will find this process fascinating as he learns the differences between sounds (and where to locate their source). This is an important beginning skill in language development!
Newborn Activity #4: Dancing Ribbons
- A wooden spoon
- A variety of ribbons, tied to the end
There’s something mesmerizing to your newborn about watching ribbons dance and ripple in the air. Use this “magic wand” to wave around in front of her face and hands, tickling her feet and cheeks, etc. If she’s bold enough to reach out…reward her effort by letting her grab one!
What She’s Learning: Not only will the ribbons be fun to touch (silky smooth!), tracking the ribbons is great for her visual development. It is also a great infant activity to give her practice on her eye-hand coordination.
Newborn Activity #5: Roly Poly
- A small ball (like this sensory ball)
For most babies, Tummy Time should really be called Torture Time. It’s frustrating, you see, to not be able to see anything but the carpet. Fortunately, this Tummy Time game makes it easy. He will be so distracted about the sensation on his stomach, he’ll forget to scream!
Gently lay your baby (fully clothed and tummy-down) on the sensory ball. Then, while securely holding him, “roll” him back and forth and side to side on the ball. (This is probably best for newborns who are 4+ weeks old and have some slight neck control.) He will find the rolling sensation fascinating!
What He’s Learning: Not only does this exercise strengthen his neck muscles and improve his balance, it’s a great trust-building game to help with bonding.
Newborn Activity #6: Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Who’s the fairest of them all? Phsh Like you even have to ASK.
- A baby-safe mirror (this is a really good one)
Your newborn LOVES to look at faces. (Even Great Uncle Bill’s face. What are those giant bumps and creases?) The mirror is actually one of her earliest social tools! Sit with your baby on your lap, and put a baby-safe mirror (one that won’t easily break) in front of you both.
Take your time pointing out all of your baby’s body parts and tickling fingers and toes. (Don’t worry if she doesn’t react…that’s a milestone she’ll reach in a few months!)
What She’s Learning: This is a great way for her to start learning body parts, first of all. The biggest milestone she’s learning here, though, is self-identification. Who is that person in the mirror? It’s her!
Newborn Activity #7:
Macho Muscle Man
- A blanket
- An ottoman or couch
Your newborn needs to learn how to manage that giant noggin balanced on his neck. You can help him by doing baby sit ups! Just place him on a blanket laying on top of an ottoman our couch, so you are kneeling in front of him. Slowly raise the blanket, so he’s sitting up. Then lower it and do it again a few more times.
What He’s Learning: This game helps him learn how to understand the sensation of balance required as he goes up and down. It will also help build his neck strength as he strains his head to look for you when he goes back down!
Why Stop with a Newborn?
24 Additional Infant Activities to Play
These are all really awesome newborn activities to encourage bonding and brain development.
After a few weeks these games aren’t going to be fun anymore. Your baby is going to look at you with an expression of “Really, Mom? I mastered that weeks ago. Give me something CHALLENGING for a change.”
You’re going to need fresh inspiration. You’ll need new infant activities!
Heather to the rescue! I’ve written a booklet called 24 Magical Games to Play with Your Baby that will walk you through, month-by-month, all the developmental tasks your child is trying to learn and the games and toys best suited to help speed that along.
It was insanely fun to write. (So much fun, actually, that I’m hoping to write another one for toddlers.)
Since we’re trotting it out for the first time this week, I thought it might be nice to offer it to my friends (this is you, reader!) at a 50% discount. Click here to immediately take advantage of this offer.
He may not be ready for Operation, but there’s a game called Sticker Pox that he will LOVE.
Time to stop the staring contests and get your giggles on!
Learn more here about 24 Magical Games to Play with Your Baby.
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Have You Read These Yet?
- 15 Newborn Toys Your Baby Will Find Fascinating
- What You Need to Know About Bathing a Newborn
- How to Rock Out a Newborn Schedule
- Everything a New Mama Warrior Needs to Know About Baby Care
Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at MightyMoms.club and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She’s a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, has been a featured parenting expert writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, Cafe Mom, and others. If it’s 2am and you’re desperate to read SOMETHING, check out her deepest darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn’t be allowed to blog.