When to start baby play?
Babies are born as social beings, ready to interact with their families. Generally the first few weeks your baby will have high sleep needs, however, from around four weeks onwards you may begin to notice your newborn becoming increasingly alert.
As they develop and grow, they will want to interact with their surroundings more and more. Your baby needs a rich flow of sensory nourishment in order to stimulate and develop their brains. Historically it was thought that a baby can be “overstimulated”, when in fact the opposite is true, especially during long periods in a low sensory environment such as the home.
Sensory Nourishment & Play Ideas for Baby
- Getting out and about each day, even if it is for a short walk – or having another carer take your baby for a walk while you get some much-needed rest and strategic self-care is a great way to start.
- If you are unable to get outside easily, having various play stations in different areas of the house so your baby can explore new environments within the home is also beneficial.
- A warm bath daily is a lovely way to add some sensory stimulation. Music in the background can be a nice touch.
Play during feeding
During daytime feedings, have a playlist on in the background, and use a rattle to engage your baby while they are feeding at the breast. New noises and sounds will stimulate your baby’s brain.
During rest and digest time after a breastfeed, try an upright bouncer or some tummy time with a play mat and gym. Choose lots of bright, noisy and textured toys that capture your baby’s attention. Your baby will let you know when they are done playing and are ready for a cuddle or some more milk.
Toys your baby will respond to the most are generally noisy rattles, bells, musical instruments, reflective objects, toys that move and high-contrast images. Depending on their age and stage they may require more interaction from you until they can grasp toys on their own.
Joelleen Winduss Paye, IBCLC Lactation Consultant, Midwife & Naturopath