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How to Play With Your Newborn

Cute (and Easy) Baby Games

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Play is your baby’s first job—and like work, there’s a learning curve. Here’s how to make playtime really terrific.
How to Play With Your Newborn

You want your newborn to grow—to move around, communicate, and engage with you and the rest of the family. He can get there through play. Try these suggestions:

Start early.

In the first few months of life, your little will one will learn about his world mainly through his contact with you. Get up close and personal. Encourage him to focus on you and other family members. He is just beginning to make out shapes and distinguish black-and-white contrast.

Fun things to do now: Let your baby get to know the look of your face and the sound of your voice: sing, read, and talk to him often. Book in lots of cuddle time. Wiggle his fingers and toes and move his arms and legs gently while narrating what you are doing. (This counts as play in the early stages.) Kick it up a notch later—place a rattle or two in a safe spot in his play space. Situate toys where he can brush against them with his hands or push them away with his feet. Remove toys when playtime’s over. Hang a mobile near (or over) the crib where your baby can see its engaging shapes and hear music as it’s moving.

Watch your timing.

Babies love to play, but not when they’re hungry, cranky, tired, or fussy. Schedule play for times when your little one is settled, attentive, responsive, and seems interested in activity. As she gets closer to the three- to four-month-old mark, she will begin to develop more control over her body, and the two of you will be able to do more together.

Fun things to do now: Pick up (or borrow) one or two baby-safe gyms to use at playtime. Hang one above the crib; place the other securely over her play mat. Bat at the hanging toys to demonstrate how to use them—or just provide entertainment. Grab colorful items around the house, including baby-safe blocks, balls, and huggables. Invent your own version of show-and-tell to capture her attention, entertain, build neck strength, and boost visual tracking.

Get mouthy.

Babies learn via touch and taste, so use toys your infant can safely “mouth” as additional vehicles for entertainment and learning.

Fun things to do now: Offer some teething toys even if your baby is not yet teething. They’re safe, and babies like to explore different shapes and textures. Try freezing a few pieces to give your baby a totally different tactile experience.

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