Newborn activities are often the Cinderella of baby care.
As a new parent, you’re probably focused on what your baby is doing the majority of the time: sleeping and feeding.
I know you might even be thinking I’m a little crazy for suggesting your helpless tiny newborn can be active.
First of all, they can’t move much. Although you are very aware that they leave you exhausted all day long!
Your newborn baby can sleep up to 18 hours a day.
But that leaves at least another 6 hours of the day when they are awake. You’ll use most of that time for baby care such as feeding, diapering, and bathing.
However, you’ll likely find time on your hands where you actually don’t know what to do with your baby.
I also understand that sometimes you’ll be so exhausted from new parenthood that you can’t even think straight.
That’s where this handy guide comes in to help you.
Let’s look at the different ways you can keep your newborn baby active.
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6 Newborn Activities For Fast Development
1. Sensory Play
As your newborn can’t yet move the best way to include sensory play is to place baby on the floor, ideally, on an activity mat or soft covering (I love this one).
Baby gyms are ideal for this kind of set up as they are designed to stimulate your baby’s senses.
Don’t just put your baby down and leave them too it. Interact with your baby and the toys to show to help become curious about play.
You don’t need to shell out lots of money to have sensory play with your baby. Simple tactile toys or objects with a variety of textures such as feather, fabrics, mirrors, and bubbles can be used to stimulate your baby’s senses.
Great ways to stimulate your baby’s sense during sensory play include
- Gently touch your baby’s skin in various places
- Moving the objects to different positions for baby to follow
- Making noises with the objects
Praise your baby when they react movement such as a wriggle, kick, or grab. Positive feedback will let your baby know it’s good to move their body.
Stimulating your baby’s senses early in life gives them the confidence to want to explore as they grow.
I’d also recommend finding out what playgroups are available in your area. Weekly baby sensory groups are becoming a more popular and fun activity for you and your baby.
2. Tummy Time
If there is one activity to take away from this guide, I highly recommend that you practice tummy time with your baby.
Any good Physiologists will advise you it’s the one thing you should do to aid your baby’s movement from birth. Another benefit is that it prevents your baby from developing flat head syndrome.
Tummy Time strengthens your baby’s back, neck and arm muscles, which are all vital for learning to roll crawl and walk. You are giving them a head start if you practice regular tummy time from birth.
Some physios recommend you encourage your older children to continue tummy play as it’s so beneficial to their mobility. Starting this good habit early will prevent you from having to deal with the effects of poor posture caused by screen time as your baby grows.
For newborns, tummy time can be trickier as they have poor head control. I would recommend lots of skin to skin on your chest until your baby starts to hold their head up.
Once you’re both ready to progress to the floor, place a rolled up towel under your baby’s arms and entertain them for around 10 minutes on their tummy.
For a newborn baby, try this 2-3 times a day and build up longer periods.
Your baby may cry in this position at first; often it’s because they cannot see you. My advice is to keep close and continue for short bouts in the day. Their muscles will quickly strengthen, and they’ll find it easier each time.
Reading to your newborn is a fantastic way to spend your time together. You probably already know that reading is a great way to relax your baby, especially if you read to your bump during pregnancy.
What I love most about reading is that it can be used to stimulate your baby and act as a strong foundation for imaginative play.
When you use word combined with movement, it has a powerful impact on your babies learning by improving memory and language skills.
By over animating words, facial expression, and body language as you read, your baby is learning all about emotional, behavioral and social cues.
For your baby, it’s fun and entertaining while you develop their communication skills. It also allows you to let your hair down from the stress of being a new parent.
At first, it will feel silly as your baby will have no idea what you are saying. But I guarantee your baby will be captivated by the sounds, tone, and movements that you create from the words. Your baby will learn to love books as they grow.
4. Baby Yoga
Practicing baby yoga is a great way for you and your baby to learn about moving together. It’s also a fantastic way for you to squeeze some gentle postpartum exercise into your busy day.
Yoga is a fantastic way for your baby to learn about movement through your gentle touch and interaction of guided rhythms.
Yoga teaches you and your baby confidence and builds strength. Another huge postpartum benefit is encouraging mindfulness to cope with your huge life transition to parenthood.
You can learn how to practice baby yoga at classes in your area, online classes or even free videos on YouTube.
If yoga isn’t your thing, you may find baby massage has many of the same relaxing and bonding benefits for your baby.
Both baby yoga and baby massage are great newborn activities which you can add to a bedtime routine for your baby to help them unwind.
Being active yourself is a great way to be a good role model for your baby.
Walking is a nice gentle exercise that most moms can do after birth (unless medically advised not to).
Again it’s another great activity which helps you and your baby to keep active during the day.
Being outdoors really helps to stimulate your baby with sights, sounds, smells, noise, and daylight. All of those experiences help your baby to start developing a better understanding of day and night which encourages healthy sleep rhythms as they grow.
I highly recommend using a baby carrier to walk with your newborn as it gives that added extra bonus of closeness.
You can use a newborn stroller if you prefer, but make sure it’s in a parent facing position. It’s important your baby is aware you are there, especially when outdoors, so they feel safe exploring all these strange new senses.
Have you ever danced with someone and felt a powerful connection to them afterward?
The experience of touch and rhythm why dancing is the perfect activity for helping you to bond with your newborn.
Holding your baby as you move will give your baby the familiar sensation of being in your womb. That will make them feel safe, secure and loved.
Babywearing is an excellent way for you to put on your favorite music dance around your house with your newborn baby and relieve a little stress.
The magic of dance is that you can make it as stimulating or as gentle as you want.
Dance can help your baby to learn vital skills such as balance, coordination, and sequencing. Plus, if you like to sing along to the music, your baby will pick up lots of language skills.
How Active is Your Newborn Baby?
You may be thinking that it’s not important to introduce activities until your baby is older.
Lack of activity won’t harm your baby. However, introducing stimulation as early as possible is best for your baby’s development.
Now I’m not saying you have to constantly entertain your newborn with their every waking minute. Let’s be realistic, you’re exhausted and need to deal with things like that load of laundry that’s been piling up over the last few days.
Who knew a tiny baby could create so much laundry!?
What I am saying is you need to be mindful of times when your baby is experiencing prolonged periods of inactivity.
Recognizing these times can help you to add even 10 minutes of activities for your newborn into your day.
These are the most common periods of newborn inactivity that can build up quickly during the day.
Have you ever thought about how much time your baby spends in a car seat?
From the moment you strap them in, run a few errands around the store and then drive back home it can quickly add up to a few hours every day.
It’s so easy with modern day travel systems you can simply click the car seat onto the stroller frame.
Surprisingly most parent also doesn’t know about the 2 hours rule that most manufacturers have for using a baby car seat.
A baby should not spend more than 2 consecutive hours in a car seat in 24 hours.
The main reason for this is due to:
- Poor spine development
- Chin to chest positioning causing restricted air flow
- Long periods of limited movement
The best way to tackle this by recognizing that your car seat should only be used for the car. For newborns, a bassinet stroller or a baby carrier is best when you are walking out and about.
Unfortunately, our busy modern lives mean that placing your baby in a bouncer for a few hours allows you to get on with errands around the home.
It’s so easy to get caught up doing your normal day to day things that all those hours your baby spends in their their bouncer or swing chair start to add up.
Don’t fret about putting your baby down to get a few things done. Just remember the rule of a little interaction every hour if your baby is awake.
Taking baby out of the bouncer and interacting with them floor play or tummy time for a few minutes is great.
I recommend using a baby carrier and talking to your baby about the little tasks you are doing. It sounds silly, but it really works for connecting with your baby and helping them learn about their environment.
Tv’s, tablets, smartphones all make it so easy to have access to 24hr entertainment for your baby.
But excessive media use in children is causing huge problems with inactivity in children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend you set limits on how often your child has screen time.
Starting good habits in early childhood is a great way to set rules and boundaries around media use for your baby, so it doesn’t become an issue as they grow.
How Often Should I be Doing Newborn Activities?
There is no set recommendation for physical activity for your newborn baby.
With that in mind, it is recommended that you don’t let your newborn go for longer than one hour of inactivity when they are awake.
The key for a newborn activity is doing it in short 10-minute bursts of play a few times throughout the day.
Try to slowly build up period of activity as your baby grows and can move around more.
The newborn activities I’ve recommended above are beneficial for your baby’s development. Although your baby may need to build up a tolerance for some activities.
If they show signs of overstimulation, stop and try again at a more relaxed time of day.
Starting and continuing the activities when it’s tough will pay off if you persevere with them.
I know it can be difficult to continue when you don’t see instant benefits. However, as your baby grows you will notice that your hard work will pay off with their development.
Activities for a newborn are a tricky balance because your baby can become easily overstimulated.
Too much activity can cause your baby to become unsettled. This can be caused by sensory overload including sounds, noise, and touch.
You may notice these cues soon after baby is born and you lots of friends and family over to visit. After being passed around for cuddles your baby can become unsettled after too much handling.
If your baby becomes overstimulated, they need some quiet time.
The best way to achieve this is you holding baby skin to skin so they can hear the rhythmic beat of your heart. This gives them the sense of calm they had when in your womb.
Wrapping It Up
Adding a few newborn activities into your day is a fantastic way to boost your baby’s development from birth.
Keeping active has so many health benefits for your family.
It doesn’t need to be overwhelming for you or baby. Little and often is the key.
You soon find your hard work is paying off as you watch your baby grow and interact with you more.