Friday, 15 February 2013

10 things to do with your baby 0-6 months

I keep coming across articles (usually on Pinterest) about things to do with tiny babies. They are usually quite intense in terms of structure, props etc, so I thought I would do my own version. These activities are all simple, and very almost free, but they all help nurture and entertain your baby, without being a strain on you:

1. Cuddle.

Babies love cuddling, up until at least 4 months you can happily make yourself a cuppa and deposit yourself on the sofa, baby in arms. Baby will lie there, gazing at you or snoozing as happy as a clam. Are clams actually happy? Who knows? (Does anyone care even? Poor clams). Your baby however, will be happy, small babies love the warmth of your body, your scent, your heartbeat. It is emotionally, developmentally and physiologically good for them. So enjoy those baby cuddles.

2. Nurse

Whatever your chosen feeding method. I am using the Sears definition here, where nursing is feeding in a loving and nurturing manner.
Breastfed babies love to suckle, they need to; as well as getting nutrition they are comforted and get the skin to skin contact that makes them feel really close to you. There is a myth that babies need to feed less often than they do (every couple of hours is really not unusual) and that suckling for comfort is a bad thing - it's not, it is normal and beneficial.
If you are bottlefeeding your baby, snuggle down with them, get them skin to skin if you can, make eye contact, talk to them softly, make feeding an emotional exchange.

3. Nap together

Babies sleep so much better when you are close. They even regulate their breathing and heartrate better by your example. Parents need rest. So make a safe sleeping space - firm, no pillows or heavy blankets, no risk of rolling off - and snuggle down for a nice nap, you will both benefit.

4. Go for a walk

Pop the baby into a sling, let them feel the closeness of your body and enjoy the sway of your movements. It's like being back in the womb. This is a really great way of settling a fussy or overtired baby. Walk somewhere that you get something out of. A favoured route, a social call, window shopping, whatever you find rewarding.

5. Chat

Babies start understanding our language long before they can speak themselves or even demonstrate their understanding. It's also excellent preparation for both of you to start conversing as early as possible. Talk to your baby about what you are doing, things of interest you come across, how you are feeling, ask them questions. Give them space to respond, even from before birth (preemies do it too) babies will converse in terms of responding to your speech and leaving a space for you to respond back.

6. Sing

It doesn't matter whether you are any good, your baby will love your singing voice. You can sing nursery rhymes, lullabies, pop songs, it doesn't really matter, but they love repetition. If you are still unsure about how to sing to your baby, you could attend a baby singing class. These rites of humiliation, where mothers sing nursery rhymes to confused babies, are a great way to make friends by mutual discomfort.

7. Bathe together

We are back to skin-to-skin again. Co-bathing helps new babies get used to the bath, and once they start to enjoy it they can share the fun with you. It also solves the issue of what to do with the baby while you wash.

8. Get on with your day

Many of the things we consider mundane are fascinating to children who find new things fascinating. My 2 1/2 year old still loves the supermarket, for the colours, new faces and naming everything I put in the trolley. A small baby will often enjoy watching you sort laundry from their bouncer, or making faces at cashiers from their carrier,

9. Baby massage/yoga

OK, this one is a bit fancy, but I am sneaking it in. You can attend a class (where you can meet people and get direct tuition) or there are books and videos on the market. It's a nice bonding exercise that you will both get a lot out of.

10. Look in the mirror.

Babies love mirrors, they don't recognise their reflection until they are much older, but they still find them fascinating and hilarious. If you are carrying your baby past a mirror, pause and take a moment to let them play.

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