The Best Ways to Interact with a Newborn
As new parents, there is an undeniable worry of actively being a good (or best) parent to your newborn. One of the things that new parents often have mistakes in doing are the different ways of interacting with their newborn baby. Yes, we admit it, we here at ParentsNeed HQ have also gone through that.
There are actually a lot of ways to interact with our newborn babies. In fact, we can play, coo and do other things with our little one. And all these are interactions that are vital for their overall development. You see, newborn babies rely on the different senses to make out the most of what's going on around them. Providing a stimulus to make your baby react is one way of actually playing with newborn babies.
Learning when your baby is alert
Playing with your newborn may be fun and all but how will you know if your baby is awake, sleepy or just not in it to play? Well, newborn babies are expected to spend about 16-18 hours a day sleeping. And the times when they are awake, you are not even sure if they would like to play along with you. Sometimes, your baby is awake but when you start playing, they get upset and cry.
There are technically two waking periods for your newborn: the quiet time and the hyper time. Quiet time is when they are just there with their eyes wide open and looking around. The hyper time is when they start flapping their arms and kicking their legs. They start moving like a caterpillar or bouncing on their baby bouncer.
You may think they are still drowsy but when your little one is quiet and starts to intently look around, this is the perfect time for interaction. Actually, they are most alert when they try to ponder about things around them. They are much easier to interact with and they respond better to you. Playing with newborn babies at this time is great as they are very attentive and they show more interest. You can go around carrying your little one and start pointing things while talking.
We may think that this is the time for us to interact with newborn babies but on the contrary, it actually isn't. Your baby keeps on moving a lot that they concentrate on exercising their limbs. They pay more attention to something like, 'I didn't know I can do this!'. So, playing with newborn babies at this time isn't that conducive; they will pay less attention to you.
When you try to play with your infant, you might get surprised that they start to fuss or cry. That's because they are overstimulated. They are overwhelmed that you confuse them on which thing they should do first. You can leave your baby on the playpen and it's the time where they get to discover more of what their teenie weenie bodies can do.
Newborns are surprisingly interactive
There are numerous activities for a newborn that you can do together. Actually, we didn't even know just how interactive newborns are. They may not speak but they are easily entertained and easily give back the attention that you are giving them. Babies are very social. They immediately start to noticing their surroundings, trying to get familiar with everything around them. What's surprising though is that no matter how new they are in the world, their actual priority is getting to know YOU!
Get in sync with the people they are often interacting with and YOU are one them. So, mommy and daddy, you really don't want to make the first mistake as a new parent by just letting your newborn spend most of their time in bed. It is a total fun time with baby if you spend most of your time with your little one especially in this vital stage where every single sense organ is at its peak.
What to do with an awake newborn?
We love newborn playtime! Seriously! And one of the things we love about them is that our babies respond with coos and gurgles that just makes your feel like jumping with joy. Actually, there are a lot of things you can do with an awake infant. You can talk and play during some of his tummy time which can be a great family quality time as well. The entire family can really have fun entertaining newborn babies.
Our babies have super senses. They are at the age where all the senses are constantly learning every single smell, every taste, and every texture. Their senses are on high alert so that they can familiarize themselves with different elements that surround them. Engaging their senses when you play with newborns is a great deal for them. It may not be much but a simple stroke of their cheek becomes familiar that they associate with you.
• I see you! Babies love to see faces so do some decent amount of FaceTime with your newborn. They absolutely love it when your face is in really close proximity to theirs. We all know that babies are born with blurred vision-- extremely blurred vision. But it doesn't mean that they can't make out which face is staring at them. It's like a bad case of nearsightedness that eventually unravels itself in time. For the first two weeks, it's just moving lights and blurry talking faces; but by the end of their first month, your little one can already make out your face about a foot away.
Plus, this is the perfect time to play with your newborn. You can make crazy faces and make them respond. Interacting with newborns this way keeps them up and alert and it is also a great way for a newborn's learning process. Try and keep a straight face with your baby and you will find that a straight expressionless face makes them cry. It's intimidating and creepy and we know that you will also feel just as weird and awkward when faced with a person bearing such a dull face.
You don't have to wait for your little one to actually reach two to introduce what colors are. Why do you think baby toys are so colorful like that? That's because they need to fulfill the sensory sensitivity of your babies. But you can play along with simple games like peek-a-boo! Show them big solid color items and tell them what they are. You can introduce a red rose and a yellow daisy on a daily basis and they can already associate a sound to certain color with a certain smell.
• I smell you! Interacting with baby by playing with different smells like the smell of a flower, a scent of a perfume or even the gentle smell from your essential oil diffuser. You see, gentle smells like freshly baked cookies, flowers, the smell of apple and strawberries are already stimulants that can also serve as a great learning experience for your baby. Babies can learn how to associate certain colors and shapes with smells. Babies can do that but they won't be able to tell which smell is bad and which smell is fragrant—they'll probably learn how to distinguish them by the time they are potty trained.
• I feel you! Babies are super sensitive to touch! They love cuddle time and they also love your touch. Have you ever heard about skin-to-skin? Well, it is actually recommended by most medical practitioners that a newborn baby spends at least 30 minutes to an hour with skin-to-skin contact with their mother. This promotes great connection between you and your baby. Some mommies who deliver thru C-section can also have a skin-to-skin interaction. Once your little one is given to you, you unwrap your child and cuddle your baby on your chest and tummy.
The skin-to-skin interaction is vital for your baby to get to know you. Your little one can smell you, feel you and listen to your heartbeat. Have you ever hear about imprinting? Well, you probably heard it from the Twilight saga, but it is something that your baby also experiences. Your baby technically imitates you since the moment they are born. They copy what you do with your face even if you barely notice it, which leads us to our next topic—face time.
Babies sensitivity to touch is more special when mommy is the one stroking their hair (if they have hair) tapping the cheek, rubbing the back or the tummy and many more gentle touches. Actually, your baby really responds quickly to touch; in a matter of days when you tap or stroke your baby's cheek, they will turn their head toward that side and start to suckle. They associate the stroking of the cheek with food or milk.
• I hear you! The sound of gentle singing is the best sound your baby can ever hear, especially if it is the sound of mommy's voice. Even if your singing voice sounds like a croaking frog, it is sweet and magical to your little one's ears. Lullabies are soothing and it comes especially handy for your baby when they are sleeping or when they are fussy. Their fuss is immediately reduced to nothing when you sing them a lullaby.
Babies can already tell which voice is mommy's and which one is daddy's. Babies sleep better in an environment with gentle soothing sounds and with great surprise; babies love white noises and nature sounds. You can even get your newborn a sound machine to encourage better sleeping patterns and help soothe them to a stop.
You may not know it but babies are socialites. They are very social with the lack of actual conversation. Babies love company. They literally live and feed on affection. Touch empathy is something our babies are experts at. They respond to your level of happiness and sadness and react to it. They even thrive on responding and reacting to your emotions. You'll notice it when you are really depressed, your child becomes quiet and sullen. And when you're feeling up over the clouds, your little one seems to be extra playful. That's because babies love feeling you and other people around them. It's good to keep them close like taking a short walk around the house or out for a sunny ride on your carrier or a cool breezy trip around the block on a stroller. They are great company and they definitely love yours.
Your newborn has already been hearing your voice since they were in your womb. That's why if a crowd gathers around your baby, they can still pick out your voice among the crowd. Right off the bat, your voice is noticeable and unique that they only react to. So, how to interact with your newborn? Talk! Talk! And talk some more! Like we said, babies are socialites and listening to your voice will make them become more aware of actual conversations and language. This is a great and early way to develop their communication skills because a baby will already be able to associate a word to a certain way you move your lips. They can start to imitate these lip movements even before they turn one.
Tummy time is an awesome start. It encourages your little one to lift his/ her head. You can lay your child on a play mat or on the bed and do a tummy time together. Make goofy faces and start talking to your baby. Encourage your baby to lift up his/ her head and boost your baby's courage in answering back.
Tummy time is perfect in helping them build strength on their backs, neck and limbs. You can try laying a mirror in front of you too and do a tummy time with your infant. Remember not to leave your baby during tummy time, especially if they still can't roll or when your baby is on an unsecured area like your bed.
Exercise is great for you and your baby too! But their exercise comes differently; they flail their arms and kick their legs and do tummy time. That's about the best exercise they can get but one of the things you can do for your baby is to exercise their body and limbs more for them to get stronger. You can hold their hands and tug them halfway to a sitting position; you can let your baby do the rest and pull themselves up until they can sit down. You can also urge your baby to kick if you make a sound every time they happen to kick your palm, your arm or leg or face. Wiggling around is great for your baby and you can play with them as they do their daily exercise.
Your newborn is much like an active little child with a few limitations. They love your company, your love, your attention and your affection. In fact, it's what keeps them alive. Babies can already communicate in simple ways but they are great in responding and reacting to every one of your movements. So, always expect the time when your baby is awake. It is going to be a really great time spending most of your baby's waking hour with you. Be happy and you can find other creative ways to play with your newborn.