Dad's Activity Guide for "Playing" With Their Newborn
After three days in the hospital, I was so excited to be able to bring Tessa to her new home.
I remember carrying her into the house and placing her down in the bassinet. At that moment, it really hit me: "Oh my God, I'm a dad and we're finally home. So what do I do with her now?"
I didn't know it at the time, but this is a really common thought by first-time fathers.
If you were anything like me, you spent those first days (and maybe even weeks), being very nervous around your baby. I was also at a loss of what I could do with Tessa.
Much of our nervousness as dads has a lot to do with simple confidence. Please be assured that over time, as your attention to the baby is rewarded with smiling and cooing, you will become more and more confident.
With all that in mind, here is my newborn baby activity guide for new dads. As your baby grows, you can find more baby activitites here and milestones, toy tips and games to play with your baby every month here.
Newborn Activities Tips
First thing - Enjoy just being with your baby
First and foremost, your baby is going to be concentrating on three main activities early on and none of them have to do with playing. But as your baby gets more and more alert, she will want stimulation. There's lot of things to do here: make silly faces, talk to her, tickle her chin, kiss and hug her, let her hold your finger, etc...
The video below will show you how to play with a newborn. Since their vision is not very well developed yet, they need clear colors and patterns to look at and to be close to your face to see what you are up to.
Music, singing, and dancing fun
Those first few weeks with Tessa were really rough. She had a lot of trouble breastfeeding and I think we had a baby who was chronically hungry. As a result, she cried a lot and we had a difficult time soothing her.
What worked for us was playing music, dancing and singing songs. We experimented with lots of different CDs and ironically, it was a CD of African drumming music that had the best results. Not only did the music help, but I had even better results when I held her and "danced" to the music with her. If I wasn't dancing with her, sometimes I would lay her down on her back and wiggle her arms, legs, and toes to the beat of the music.
One of our newborn activities was that I started early on with singing silly songs, especially during a diaper change. This has continued to the point where I now get big grins at the first words of my silly songs.
If you have a baby who really wants to be carried all the time, consider investing early on in a baby sling or baby carrier. They can be of tremendous help and many newborn babies sleep really well in them too.
Go sightseeingThis has nothing to do with going to the museum or taking your baby on a tour of the Capitol building. Quite simply, babies learn by watching and looking at things.
Think of babies as sponges trying to "soak" up an exciting new world full of interesting and fascinating sights, sounds, smells and touches.
We were fortunate to have Tessa in the spring and we could take her outside for walks and to see the world in motion around her: cars driving by, kids on their bikes and trees swaying in the wind. If we were inside, I always liked to take Tessa into the bathroom and hold her in front of the full-length mirror on the shower door. I would also move her around the house in her little baby seat so she could experience the view and her surroundings from different places.
Even if a newborn baby doesn't have much of a vision to brag about, this changes quite rapidly. Already at 1 month old a baby will be a lot more interested (and awake!) to enjoy a sightseeing tour outside or around the house.
And as your baby grows, there will be a lot more baby activities to choose between to have fun together.
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