If you are like me, you are most likely searching for ways to engage with your newborn/infant in a mindful way to aid her development. Skin to skin ( both mom and dad) at the very early stage and breastfeeding (bottle feeding for other caregivers) are the easiest and the most important ways to bond with your child. And, there are other activities too that you can certainly engage them with that can contribute to their development. As strange as it may sound, babies need activities (with or without toys) right from the new born stage. I have been mindfully shopping for toys for my little one and this is big for a hoarder like me. I wanted her to spend time on meaningful play even with the silliest of toys. Montessori method surely inspired me to choose this path and I picked toys that were affordable, durable, colorful, and entertaining to her.
So this is what we were up to till couple of months ago! At this age, babies really need mindful human interaction. You should know that these activities are something you start at this age but continue till you feel the baby is enjoying. Well most of them, they will!
Do you know babies can be out on their tummies from their early days? Tummy time is great to improve their motor skills and improve the strength of their neck and upper body. It also helps prevent flat head. Honestly, the grandparents and I were not convinced that a days old baby could be on her tummy. It’s a cultural thing I guess. But thanks to Mr. A’s persistence, we gave her tummy time within a few days of her birth and certainly see its benefits. It may be tough in the beginning for them but don’t give up. The trick is to get to the baby’s level and stay close to her eyes with constant talking or placing something of high contrast close to her eyesight. Remember in the beginning babies can’t see anything beyond 10 inches but can hear from their birth. Slowly, startting at 3 months, tummy time mats are helpful to hold their attention.
Real talk – Baby Talk
This is the most important thing for various reasons. When you talk to your baby keeping them close to you, the first reaction you get is them looking (read focusing) back at you. The time they listen to you is not only your bonding time but also helps them to build vocabulary and teach them focus. You could talk not just the cute baby language, but some real talk. You can talk about what you are doing together (“lets change the diaper”) or how your day has been. I remember the days when Mr. A would come and narrate his entire day (including the traffic jam sagas) and she would listen to it as if its her business. You will start hearing the cooing sounds and see some reactionary smiles! Remember to pay attention and listen to her and make reciprocatory communication. They will love it! We love this lounger when talking to her till she rolled over and little later too.
Baby massage is probably the most ancient soothing technique for a baby. We now associate with bonding time too since your baby has your complete attention when you are massaging her. My little one totally loved the nearly 15-minute whole body massage we gave her though she wasn’t a fan of the bath that followed it. I found this article very useful to understand the technique of massaging the baby. I am a fan of Lovebubbsi products and their coconut oil is my favorite, which I still use (not sponsored).
Reading to Babies
As per Maria Montessori, the sensitive period for language development starts from birth. Reading is a great tool for language development. It is never too early to read to your baby and there are a plethora of reasons why you should start reading to them early. I have a post on getting started with reading to your babies with some of our favorite books. It’s an absolutely great way to bond and raise a reader.
Hanging Mobile/Black and White Images
If your baby is used to being in a crib, having a crib mobile is great to improve eye visual tracking. Since babies can’t see far or can see colors till about 3 months, I used to place a high contrast book to the side or stick few black and white images to the crib (just google). As the baby grows and is able to see colors and objects at distance, you can start adding stuff to the crib. Mobiles are quite expensive to keep changing, I got this music box mobile and hung few toys on to it. (Honestly, I used to hang some bright head bands too. They can just watch anything.) We also had this gym mat (chose the best seller) which had some hanging stuff.
Sound of Music
Babies can hear from Day 1. They can enjoy any music. Mr. A and I probably realized we are not really bad singers when we started singing to our little girl. We like the piano that came with the gym mat that is easy to use for a rolling baby. At 3 months, you can introduce a wooden rattle and few other easy to hold instruments while they are on tummy too.
Dance and Move
When I say Dance, I mean movement. It is very important for babies to develop their vestibular system. The vestibular system is a sensory system that is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation; it also is involved with motor functions that allow us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, and maintain posture. You could gently hold the baby (0-1 month) in your balms with her face facing downward and move her towards you then away. At about 3 months, you could have a mini dance party with your baby holding her securely.
Since my little one was October baby, we couldn’t really hang out in nature much with her initially as it was super cold. But I believe we need no experience to talk about the benefits nature has to offer for anyone including babies. Although, we traveled with her when she was 2 months old and boy! she was amazed at everything outside naturally! So explore at your pace! (But for now be safe!)
These are just a few we did with our little one and there is no right or wrong way. Please do what fits your baby and your family.