Playing with a baby from 1-4 months may seem either strange or straight forward. They’re a baby, do they play? Don’t they just eat, sleep, poop, repeat? Well, yes, AND – although baby play may look like a lot of laying around and putting things in their mouth – babies actually only have one job to do, and that is play!
Here are some ideas of how to play with your baby, from months 1-4.
Read black and white books to them
At this age the high-contrast is what your baby needs for their vision and cognitive development. Check out Baby See app to see what your baby sees (IT IS SO COOL!), did you know their vision develops over time? They actually can’t see you walk in the door at this point… although they may smell your breast or the bottle from a mile away!
Install a Mobile in Their Room
Mobiles can be over the crib or over the changing table. Mobiles allow their visual skills to develop among other skills. Read more about mobiles here…
At this age, Tummy Time on your chest (laying down or reclined) can be a great play and bonding activity – this allows tummy time to happen while bonding. Bonding is SO important at this time. Bonus if it’s skin to skin time!
Watch this video for ideas on how to sneak in Tummy Time with various positions – it does not have to be on the floor at this age!!
Become a Chatty Cathy (or a Singing Susan)
Many don’t think their baby can understand them, but they understand you more than you may realize – they have been inside your body, hearing your voice for months. Talking to them helps them develop their cognition and language, AND continues to helps with bonding. Sing like no one is listening, they don’t care if you’re in pitch. In fact, did you know the brain processes words differently whether they are sung or spoken? So sing away and chat it up! Both help with development in different ways.
Keep the conversation going
Keep talking to them, make silly noises, describe what you are doing while you are doing it. It may seem silly, but babies’ consciousness is there and they would love for you to share what you are doing to them – diaper changes and baths are a necessity but can be done in a comforting and fun way if they know you are present with them. When they are sad or upset because they are tired or hungry, or both — tell them you see them, you know what they need, and you are working on it!
Support them in playing in side-lying position
SO MANY benefits from side-lying — Tummy Time overshadows this position but I honestly feel it is just as beneficial! Hand to mouth coordination, reaching, rolling — benefits are endless. Watch some examples and learn more here.
Continue Tummy Time
Either on your chest or on the floor. If you choose the floor, get on the floor with them. They will enjoy being on their tummy so much more if you are with them reassuring them they are okay. If they aren’t feeling brave enough yet to be that separate from you, it is okay. Continue the modified Tummy Time positions from the video linked above.
In Tummy Time, side-lying, and while baby is on their back — place toys on each side of your baby to encourage them to roll! Place the toy just out of reach and see what your baby does. Now, of course, we’re not teasing the baby, but challenging them just a bit to turn their head, look at a toy, and maybe possibly considering reaching for it – these all can be great ways to encourage rolling and motor development. To really encourage rolling, while the baby is on their back, hold a toy 6″ or so from their face and slowly move toy to baby’s right or left, allowing them to follow with their eyes and head — then, once baby starts to move their upper body to reach for the toy, support their hips to help them finish the roll. For more info on what this looks like – reach out to me directly.
Book Reading and Language
Read books to baby – this is a must for all ages, but with their vision developing and their increased interest in interacting with objects, books can be so fun at this age. Introduce them to a nighttime routine to create a more established bedtime routine to encourage regulation for sound sleep.
When baby coos or makes noise, coo back! Babies feel seen when their loved ones reciprocate their sounds and efforts to communicate. This will increase not only their cognition and language skills, but also will encourage a beautiful bond between you and baby.
Everything in The Mouth
Everything, straight.to.the.mouth! Allow this to happen and just accept the drool as much as you can. Babies benefit so much from oral exploration. Buy toys they can mouth and explore with – teething toys with various textures, they even make ones you can freeze!
Cause and Effect
Cause and effect toys like rattles and light up button toys are a hit at this age – make sure the toys you are purchasing make your baby work for the “effect” and try to avoid toys that sing a song when the wind blows. I call these “passive” toys – this will also save your sanity from hearing the same song x100,000 times, including in your sleep…