Enriching Newborn Activities: Nurturing Baby’s Development

Now what? Congratulations on successfully transporting baby home from the hospital (or will soon!!) driving approximately six miles per hour! Bonding can be daunting when meeting for the first time as two people get used to each other; snuggling, skin-to-skin time and snuggling should top your list of activities for newborns in addition to sleeping, feeding and diaper changing responsibilities; you can start stimulating brain and sensory development early by simply talking and showing affection!

Although your newborn may not have yet grasped that nighttime is for sleeping, what they know for certain is you! According to Tovah Klein, PhD, director of Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of “How Toddlers Thrive,” your infant can recognize your voice and smell even during its first month, turning their head when hearing you speak or turning away when hearing something else spoken by another voice. Here’s how you can strengthen both bonds as well as brain development with some low-key developmental activities you can both do together:

Related Topic: What are the best methods of stimulating baby brain development?

Doula Guide for Fourth Trimester Expecting Moms
Sensory Activities for Newborns Although infants seem incapable of much beyond sleeping, crying, and producing plenty of laundry, there are ways you can stimulate their senses with simple activities designed specifically to stimulate them.

Dr. Klein offers low-effort strategies with high rewards to establish strong bonds from day one – ideal for when everyone’s sleep deprived!

  1. Communicate With Your Baby
    Make every interaction between yourself and your infant memorable by communicating about everything happening: diaper changes, changes of outfit, bath time or anything else they might experience with an eye on development of future communication tools like intonation and vocabulary learning, for instance. Do this every time something important occurs. It will soothe them as much as help them grasp language tools needed later.
  2. Provide Lots of Comfort
    Always respond immediately when hearing that a baby is crying; sometimes all a newborn needs is for someone close by to hold and cuddle him/her close, or just know they have someone there if fussiness persists. Sucking on something like your clean pinkie finger also can help relieve fussiness while simultaneously aiding their brain growth in those initial months of development.
  3. Engage Eye Contact
    Making eye contact can help develop both relationships between parents and baby, and giving a baby something specific to focus on to develop his eyesight.

Related Article: Science Verifies That There Is No Such Thing As Spoiling an Infant, Mama

Developmental Activities for Newborns
Newborn babies require plenty of restful naps during their first weeks. Between feedings, here are a few developmental activities to add to your roster to keep baby engaged in learning!

Related Article: Newborn Sleep Patterns and Schedule: What To Expect and When Should Rest

1) Begin Tummy Time
To kickstart their development of trunk, neck and head control, try placing your baby tummy-down for just five minutes on a flat surface to help build their ability. As their reward for meeting this challenge? Lots of snuggles!

  1. Reading Aloud Even newborns can enjoy having read-aloud time. As well as board books, consider sharing poetry readings or poetry magazines; even reading something non-booklike like newspapers can bring new discoveries for your infant! They just want to hear you soft voice!
  2. Dedicate Time to Massage
    Studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of infant massage for supporting weight gain as well as pain reduction, improved alertness and better immune function in babies.1 Furthermore, massage helps strengthen bonding relationships as well as parenting confidence levels among parents.1

As for what to do when caring for a newborn, Dr. Holly Ruhl of Child Development Center of Los Angeles can give some great weekly-by-week suggestions from Dr. Ruhl’s expertise.

Week One: Lullabies and Snuggles
Your baby was exposed to your voice before birth and will love listening to you sing soothing lullabies during gestation. Skin-to-skin cuddling promotes bonding between mother and baby as well as health; when needed, ask visitors or friends who visit regularly cuddle baby so you can rest easily during naps or evening feedings.

Related article: 5 essential reasons why postpartum rest should be implemented according to midwives

Week Two: Tummy Time
It is never too soon to introduce tummy time! Begin now by placing your infant on their stomach for three to five minutes several times daily in order to work their upper bodies out and develop coordination and build muscle mass. While your little love should always sleep on his or her back, ensuring ample tummy time during the day helps prepare him or her for crawling — an integral skill required for developing spatial awareness as well as advanced motor abilities.

Week 3: Join a Moms Group
As soon as the cabin fever sets in, consider finding an established motherhood group for you and your new bundle. Begin this week by reaching out to local hospitals about mommy mixers designed specifically to bring together new moms seeking encouragement during those first difficult weeks of motherhood. Affinity groups such as these offer invaluable friendship support while sharing invaluable wisdom from fellow mamas that could become fast friends over time.

Related Article: Here Are 3 Postpartum Myths Your Doctor Might Leave Out

Week 4: Start Sensory Play
Your baby will rapidly develop their senses over the first several months. In this week, foster visual development with high-contrast toys; newborns see only black and white images at first! For entertainment purposes, higher pitched songs or conversation are preferred to lower pitched ones – providing your little one with even more fun in future months! By nurturing baby now through sensory play, their senses can develop at an exponential pace!