10 fun ideas for baby play with your newborn

Your newborn’s development relies on how he engages with the world. And what better way to do that than with these fun ideas for baby play?

Parents playing with newborn

Bringing a baby into the world is miraculous. Your family excitedly awaits a new member with open arms, high expectations and a world of hope. And the best thing about newborns is that they know exactly what they want; food, sleep and a diaper change.

But it will take parents, siblings and loved ones to show your newborn how to interact with the world around him. And it’s all done through fun and engaging baby play ideas.

The importance of playtime with your newborn

You may think that since newborns don’t do much and won’t benefit from playtime. But studies show that it’s completely the opposite.

Newborns connect your touch, voice, and smell with getting their needs met, which becomes their source of comfort. Add to that some playtime and things get really interesting.

Playing during those first months is your baby’s natural way of learning about everything around him. Playing with your newborn is when you can start building trust, allowing him to feel secure and creating a bond between the two of you.

It’s also a great way to help your baby’s social, cognitive, physical and linguistic abilities develop.

"Stimulating your child's brain during this time and providing situations where they can explore helps them to learn things that get them in touch with their environment," says child and adolescent psychologist Robert Myers, Ph.D., founder of the Child Development Institute and assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.

Ideas for baby play

1. Face-to-face playtime

Parents playing with face-to-face with newborn

Your baby is amazed by your face. He’ll stare at you and try to absorb everything you’re doing. Try to use this time to stick your tongue out, make silly faces, or just smile and coo.

Your baby will enjoy it all. And if you give him time to respond, he’ll learn soon enough how to copy everything you do.

2. Things and people to look at

Baby touching mummy's face

At home, take your baby from room to room talking about all the things you see or hold your baby to a window.

If you’re outside, encourage your baby to look  around him. This will help foster his verbal and spatial awareness early on.

Another great idea: those baby-safe unbreakable mirrors to help your baby start comprehending the idea of ‘self’ and ‘others’.

3. Things to touch and feel

Baby holding lemon and smiling

There is an assortment of cloth books, soft toys, and rattles made of different textures and styles to boost your baby’s curiosity.

It’s a great way for him to learn about the various things that make up the world around him.

4. Tummy time

baby on tummy on top of pink pillow

Tummy time is a great way to play with your newborn and it has so many benefits:

  • It gives him a chance to practice strengthening those neck  and shoulder muscles to help hold up his neck.
  • It soothes troubled tummies and aids in the digestive process.
  • It’ll provide your baby with a new vantage point, which is always very exciting.
  • This is how he will learn to crawl, and eventually walk.

Just make sure you always keep your eye on your newborn during tummy time.

5. Reading

baby reading a book

Your baby has been listening to your voice ever since he’s been in the womb so when you read to him, it reinforces that bond between you. Plus, it introduces him to new vocabulary, intonations, and facial features.

Something to bear in mind; newborns can only see up to about 25 cm in front of them, so make sure you hold the book close.

6. Talk and sing

baby in mum's hands laughing

Engaging in a one-sided conversation will encourage your baby to answer back in sounds that he really believes is talking, just like you. It will teach him how to listen and respond, and interact with others.

Your baby will pick up words, intonations, and vocabulary which will make it that much easier when it’s time to learn new words.

Singing is also a great way to boost your baby’s listening skills. You can use traditional nursery rhymes or songs, or make up your own that’s unique to the 2 of you.

7. Dancing

baby and dad with sunset in the background

Turn on some soothing music, or your favorite song, and gently move to the music while holding your baby close. This will boost your baby’s love for music as well as his emotional development.

8. Count fingers and toes

baby counting fingers

It’s a simple game, but newborns can’t get enough of it. And it’s through these games that allow your baby to discover his 10 fingers and toes, and which can be moved at his own will. It’ll be one of his greatest achievements, and it was all done through playtime.

9. Tickle and blow raspberries

baby tickle time

These are also simple games that newborns love. It’s through tickling, blowing raspberries and playing peek-a-boo that you can start hearing your newborn’s adorable laughter.

10. Massage

baby massage

Your touch helps your baby develop and grow in a healthy, natural environment. When your baby is quiet and alert, take him to a warm room, and leave him in his diaper while laying on a blanket  or towel.

Use some baby oil or lotion and start to gently rub his arms, legs, and tummy in a soft, circular motion. You can even do the ears, toes, and fingers.

A final note

It’s important to bear in mind that each baby develops at a different rate. Yet if you sense that your baby’s development is lacking in any way, discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Another thing to remember is that while playtime is important, picking the right time to play is just as important.

Choose a time when your baby is calm, clean and relaxed. If he’s tired, overstimulated or hungry, playing may only exacerbate it and make him fidgety and upset which means he won’t benefit from any of it. And no one wants a fidgety baby.

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