While you may think that your day as a new mom will be occupied by feeding, sleeping and diaper changing, there are moments throughout the day when an infant will enjoy a few minutes of playtime. In fact, here are 10 great playtime activities to keep your infant engaged and entertained.
Hang a mobile
Put an infant mobile in the crib or bassinet. As their tiny eyes get acclimated to the world around them, place a mobile in their crib and watch as they stare at the shapes above them. When my daughter was born, we first introduced her to this Infant Musical Stimulation mobile with black, white and red colors.
Show her a mirror
Surprise your infant by showing her reflection in a mirror. That first time, she may not even realize that she's looking at herself but as she gets older, she will laugh and smile just gazing at her reflection.
Tickle the tootsies
When you baby is a few weeks and months old, even discovering their fingers and toes is an adventure. Play with their tiny feet with games like "This Little Piggy" or pretend to gobble up their toes (my personal favorite game).
If your baby hasn't started to smile yet (it does take a few weeks), show her a range of happy facial expressions. I would avoid sad expressions when they're little -- the goal is to keep them happy and since they tend to cry a lot, I say, they've already mastered that trait without your help.
Stand in front of your baby, put your lips together and blow air through them. Repeat this a series of times. After several attempts, you will notice that your baby will try the same thing. It's a lot of fun to watch babies learn how to blow raspberries. I usually then blow raspberries on their tummy too because that'll make them laugh out loud.
Help strengthen your baby's neck and arm muscles. Place the baby on their stomach with their arms outstretched and sit ground level so that they can see your face. Then watch as your baby tries to lift her head up and move her arms. The first few months she won't be able to get very far but before you know it, she'll be cruising everywhere!
Even if you can't carry a tune, music can be soothing for an irritable baby or as a way to get them to fall off to sleep. Simple nursery rhymes can do the trick or if you'd prefer a Lady Antebellum tune, go for it. Music is always a great way to keep your baby calm and happy!
When the baby is about five months old, you can share classic stories that offer babies the chance to touch and feel different textures. My all-time favorite is Pat the Bunny which encourages baby to touch Pat and play peek-a-boo.
As much as this is fun for your baby, a portable swing will also become a lifesaver for you. We started using our swing when my daughter was six weeks old and it managed to keep her entertained and sometimes even caused her to fall asleep. I wouldn't rely on the swing to do that every time, but when you are exhausted, sometimes the swing is the answer to all your prayers!
Name body parts
You've already tickled their toes, now show your baby where her eyes, nose, and mouth are. My favorite trick was to stick out my tongue, pull my ear and move it from side to side. Then touch your nose and the tongue disappears. The more you show your baby how to find their nose, mouth, ears and eyes, as the months progress, they will suddenly start showing you where they are when you ask them.
Ultimately, as a mom or caregiver, you will discover what playtime activity works best for you and your newborn. But once you incorporate play into your feeding, diapering and napping schedule, suddenly you'll discover that as you entertain your infant, they'll be learning and growing every step of the way.
More about your baby's development