Playtime Ideas: How to Play with a Newborn

Playtime Ideas: How to Play with a Newborn

Updated on

Reviewed

Our articles are meticulously reviewed by qualified professionals specializing in child development, education, and health. Our reviewers ensure that our content is comprehensive, accurate, and reflects the most current, evidence-based research and best practices in the field. Before publication and during significant updates, our team rigorously evaluates each article to guarantee its relevance and usefulness for our audience. At Splashmate, we are dedicated to supporting the well-being and development of children, offering resources that parents and educators can depend on.

by
Tara Jones

Tara Jones is a renowned Child Development Professional with over 10 years of experience. Holding a Bachelor's degree in Child Psychology, Tara has made significant contributions as an early childhood educator and a respected writer in the field. She is known for her innovative teaching methods and has been instrumental in integrating play-based learning into child development practices. Tara's workshops and publications are highly sought after for their practical insights and evidence-based approach. As a recognized authority on child development, her work continues to shape educational practices and support healthy child growth.

Key points

  • In the initial weeks, a newborn's senses are just starting to develop, primarily experiencing the world through touch, sound, and sight.
  • Newborns can hear well, are drawn to high-contrast images, and have limited vision. Play activities should gently stimulate these developing senses.
  • Skin-to-skin contact and gentle stroking or massaging are comforting and aid in bonding.
  • Your voice is comforting, and talking or singing to your newborn supports auditory development and language skills.
  • Engage a newborn's vision and hearing with high-contrast books, soft music, and gentle sounds to stimulate sensory development.

On this page:

Understanding Newborn Development

Safe and Soothing Playtime Activities

Visual and Auditory Stimulation for Newborns

References and Credible Sources

Further Readings

 

 

Welcoming a newborn into your life is a journey filled with love, care, and a bit of uncertainty, especially when it comes to playtime. Newborns might seem too fragile for playful interactions, but engaging in gentle play is crucial for their development. This article will guide you through various playtime ideas suited for a newborn, focusing on activities that are safe, simple, and stimulating for their rapidly developing senses.

 

Understanding Newborn Development

Understanding Newborn Development

In the initial weeks, a newborn's senses are just starting to develop. They primarily experience the world through touch, sound, and sight, albeit in a limited way.

 

Sensory Development in Newborns

Sensory Development in Newborns

Newborns can hear quite well and are drawn to high-contrast images. They can see objects that are close-up but have a limited range of vision. Keeping this in mind, play activities should be designed to gently stimulate these developing senses.

Safe and Soothing Playtime Activities

When playing with a newborn, safety and comfort are paramount. The activities should be soothing, as newborns are easily overstimulated.

 

Gentle Touch and Cuddles

Gentle Touch and Cuddles

Skin-to-skin contact is not only comforting but also helps in bonding. Gently stroking your baby’s back or softly massaging their hands and feet can be calming and enjoyable for both of you.

 

Talking and Singing

Talking and Singing

Your voice is one of the most comforting sounds your baby will recognize. Talking and singing to your newborn can be very soothing. It's also beneficial for their auditory development and language skills.

 

Visual and Auditory Stimulation for Newborns

Engaging a newborn's vision and hearing through play is a wonderful way to stimulate their sensory development.

High-Contrast Books and Cards

Since newborns prefer high-contrast patterns, showing them black and white cards or books can captivate their attention. This also helps in developing their visual tracking skills.

Soft Music and Gentle Sounds

Playing soft music or singing lullabies can be very soothing for newborns. Gentle sounds help in auditory development and can also have a calming effect.

References and Credible Sources

Further Readings

For more comprehensive insights on newborn care and playtime ideas, consider the following resources:

  • "The Wonder Weeks" by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij – This book offers an insightful look into the developmental leaps in a baby's first year.
  • "Brain Rules for Baby" by John Medina – An informative guide on how babies' brains develop and what parents can do to support their growth.
  • "Your Baby's First Year" by Steven P. Shelov and Tanya Remer Altmann – A detailed resource covering various aspects of newborn care.
  • "Baby Play for Every Day" by Susannah Steel – A book filled with 365 play activities to stimulate your baby's development in their first year.

Playing with a newborn can be a delightful experience. It's important to remember that each baby is unique, so follow their cues and let them guide you in how much and what type of play they enjoy. Your loving presence and gentle interaction are the most valuable components of playtime during these early weeks. Cherish these moments as you watch your newborn discover and respond to the world around them.

Back to blog

At Splashmate, we are dedicated to supporting the well-being and development of children, offering resources that parents and educators can depend on. Read more about our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Robinson, L. R., Danielson, M. L., Claussen, A. H., Visser, S. N., Scott, K. G., Beckwith, L., Katz, L. F., Smith, D. C. (2019). The Legacy for Children™ Randomized Control Trial: Effects on Cognition Through Third Grade for Young Children Experiencing Poverty. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 40(4), 275–284. doi:10.1097/DBP.0000000000000655. Read the article
  2. Cree, R. A., Bitsko, R. H., Robinson, L. R., Holbrook, J. R., Danielson, M. L., Smith, C., Kaminski, J. W., Kenney, M. K., Peacock, G. (2018). Health Care, Family, and Community Factors Associated with Mental, Behavioral, and Developmental Disorders and Poverty among Children Aged 2–8 years — United States, 2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 67(5), 1377-1383. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6705a1. Read the article
  3. Sharapova, S. R., Phillips, E., Sirocco, K., Kaminski, J. W., Leeb, R. T., Rolle, I. (2018). Effects of Prenatal Marijuana Exposure on Neuropsychological Outcomes in Children Aged 1-11 Years: A Systematic Review. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 32(6), 512-532. doi:10.1111/ppe.12514. Read the article
  4. Haarbauer-Krupa, J., Lee, A. H., Bitsko, R. H., Zhang, X., Kresnow-Sedacca, M. J. (2018). Prevalence of Parent-Reported Traumatic Brain Injury in Children and Associated Health Conditions. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(11), 1078-1086. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.2743. Read the article
  5. Hartwig, S. A., Robinson, L. R., Comeau, D. L., Claussen, A. H., Perou, R. (2017). Maternal Perceptions of Parenting Following an Evidence-based Parenting Program: A Qualitative Study of Legacy for Children™. Infant Mental Health Journal, 38(4), 499-513. doi:10.1002/imhj.21642. Read the article
  6. Morris, A. S., Robinson, L. R., Hays-Grudo, J., Claussen, A. H., Hartwig, S. A., Treat, A. E. (2017). Targeting Parenting in Early Childhood: A Public Health Approach to Improve Outcomes for Children Living in Poverty. Child Development, 88(2), 388–399. doi:10.1111/cdev.12743. Read the article
  7. Beasley, L. O., Silovsky, J. F., Espeleta, H. C., Robinson, L. R., Hartwig, S. A., Morris, A. S., Esparza, I. (2017). A Qualitative Study of Cultural Congruency of Legacy for Children™ for Spanish-speaking Mothers. Children and Youth Services Review, 79, 299-308. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.06.024. Read the article
  8. Holbrook, J. R., Bitsko, R. H., Danielson, M. L., Visser, S. N. (2017). Interpreting the Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Children: Tribulation and Triangulation. Health Promotion Practice, 18(1), 5-7. doi:10.1177/1524839916670873. Read the article
  9. Bitsko, R. H., Holbrook, J. R., Kaminski, J. W., Robinson, L. R., Ghandour, R. M., Smith, C., Peacock, G. (2016). Health-care, Family, and Community Factors associated with Mental, Behavioral, and Developmental Disorders in Early Childhood – United States, 2011-2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(9), 221–226. doi:10.15585/mmwr.ss6509a1. Read the article
  10. CDC. (2013). Mental Health Surveillance Among Children, United States 2005–2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(Suppl; May 16, 2013):1-35. Read the article
  11. Katsantonis, I., McLellan, R. (2023). The role of parent–child interactions in the association between mental health and prosocial behavior: Evidence from early childhood to late adolescence. International Journal of Behavioral Development. doi:10.1177/01650254231202444. Read the article
See Our Editorial Process
Meet Our Review Board
  • How to Make a Glitter Sensory Bottle for Toddlers

    How to Make a Glitter Sensory Bottle for Toddlers

    On this page: Benefits of Sensory Play for Toddlers Choosing Safe Materials for Your Sensory Bottle Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Glitter Sensory Bottle Further Readings   Creating a glitter...

    How to Make a Glitter Sensory Bottle for Toddlers

    On this page: Benefits of Sensory Play for Toddlers Choosing Safe Materials for Your Sensory Bottle Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Glitter Sensory Bottle Further Readings   Creating a glitter...

  • Sensory play

    Exploring Sensory Play: Creative Ideas for Babies

    On this page: Touch and Feel Boxes Homemade Edible Paint Water Play Sound Bottles Texture Balloons Further Readings   Sensory play is a fun and important part of a baby's...

    Exploring Sensory Play: Creative Ideas for Babies

    On this page: Touch and Feel Boxes Homemade Edible Paint Water Play Sound Bottles Texture Balloons Further Readings   Sensory play is a fun and important part of a baby's...

  • Dynamic Activities for 18-Month-Olds: Learning Through Play

    Dynamic Activities for 18-Month-Olds: Learning ...

    On this page: Sensory Bins: Exploring Textures and Shapes Musical Fun: Encouraging Rhythm and Movement Building Blocks: Enhancing Cognitive and Motor Skills Story Time: Fostering Language and Imagination Art and...

    Dynamic Activities for 18-Month-Olds: Learning ...

    On this page: Sensory Bins: Exploring Textures and Shapes Musical Fun: Encouraging Rhythm and Movement Building Blocks: Enhancing Cognitive and Motor Skills Story Time: Fostering Language and Imagination Art and...

1 of 3