Having a newborn baby is an emotional experience, even for the most seasoned of parents. There are ups and downs, good days and bad days, and there are some days when parents feel bored, guilty, or simply clueless about what to do with a newborn all day.
Playing is obviously an important part of a baby’s development and it’s one of the best ways to build a solid bond with your baby, but it’s normal to be confused about how to do this when they’re so small and sleepy. Newborn babies sleep for around 11 – 16 hours a day, so it isn’t uncommon for parents to wonder what to do with their newborns during their awake periods. Luckily, there are plenty of fun ways to bond with your newborn and aid development during this early stage.
What to do with a newborn all day
When thinking about what to do with a newborn all day, it’s important not to overthink it. Newborns are so small and sleepy, and the thing that they want most in the world is to just hang out with you, hear your voice, and have lots of cuddles. Playing and bonding with your newborn throughout the day is pretty simple, so here are some great ways for you to keep your little one entertained during the first 3 months of their lives:
- Narrate your day to them
- Sing your favourite songs
- Dance with your newborn
- Give them some tummy time play
- Read baby books together
- Provide fun sensory experiences
Let’s take a look at each point in turn.
Narrate your day to them
When considering what to do with a newborn all day, the easiest thing that you could possibly come up with is to just take them with you about your normal daily life, and talk to them about what you’re doing and where you’re going. There is nothing that your baby loves to hear more than your voice, and so even though they won’t understand what it is that you’re saying to them, they will gain much reassurance and comfort from hearing you talk. Talking to your baby from birth is the best way to support your child’s speech and language development.
Sing your favourite songs
When thinking about what to do with a newborn all day, breaking up your activities keeps things interesting and entertaining, so why not take a break from talking to your newborn and break out into song instead? Put on your favourite playlist and sing your favourite tunes – your newborn will love hearing your voice! Alternatively, sing some classic nursery rhymes such as “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes” or “Hickory Dickory Dock” whilst gently carrying out the actions. Your newborn will not only love the sound of your voice but will also be entertained and engaged by the sensory factor of your touch.
Dance with your newborn
Moving on from singing, baby’s also happen to love a good boogy. This is because newborns love the rocking movements and find the motion soothing, so why not put on some nursery rhymes or lullabies and sway gently with your newborn in your arms?
Give them some tummy time play
Newborns need a couple of tummy time sessions each day to help strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles, which means it’s another great activity to add to your ‘what to do with a newborn all day’ list! To get the ball rolling with tummy time, lay out a soft blanket or play mat and pop your newborn down in their tummy. It often helps to put something interesting in front of your baby or lie down with them to talk as newborns love looking at faces.
Read baby books together
Another thing to add to your ‘what to do with a newborn all day’ list is reading! Again babies will not be able to understand what you’re saying, but they will love hearing your voice and looking at high-contrast designs. There are plenty of books that have been illustrated for babies that include high-contrasting images, such as black and white drawings, or picture books with mirrors and other sensory items within. Even though your baby won’t understand the words you’re using, reading to them daily helps to build early literacy skills!
Provide fun sensory experiences
Speaking of fun sensory items within books, providing fun sensory experiences is another fantastic way to entertain babies throughout the day. When thinking about what to do with a newborn all day, consider exposing them to different textures, such as fluffy blankets and toys, hard book pages, or the feel of grass on their feet.
How much should you play with your newborn?
When it comes to what to do with a newborn all day, play doesn’t need to be extensive. Babies get tired out quickly and will need to take breaks for feeding, nappy changes, and sleep. Sometimes, just a few minutes of cuddling or sharing a nursery rhyme will be enough to keep your baby entertained until their next meal time or nap.
For activities like tummy time, it’s important to start small. Many babies do not like being away from you and may not appreciate the experience of laying on their front. Start small by providing a couple of minutes of tummy time and gradually increase the amount as your baby gets stronger.
Typically, newborns can stay awake for about 60 to 90 minutes – this is called the “wake window”. In many cases, you may even find that your newborn spends most of their wake window feeding, leaving you only a little time for play.
How to tell if your baby is overstimulated.
Your newborn will let you know when they’ve had enough and are overstimulated or tired. Typically this is shown by turning their head away or crying, although other signs include:
- Arching their back
- Jerky movements
- Clenching their fists
It can be confusing at first when trying to figure out what to do with a newborn all day, however, the most simple forms of entertainment are more than enough to keep your baby happy and content during their wake window. Cuddling, dancing, singing, reading, talking, and offering some tummy time are all excellent ways to stimulate your baby and bond with them during their awake hours. Be sure to watch out for the signs of overstimulation and tiredness and within no time at all, you’ll be a pro at entertaining your little one.