How To Play With Your Newborn To Encourage Development

Posted by Kerry Nevins on

Newborns learn to move, communicate, socialize and understand the world around them through play. How you interact with your baby is key to their development at this early stage. Playing with your newborn will help them to engage their motor skills and build muscle strength. It will also help you to get to know your baby. How your newborn reacts during playtime will allow you to learn more about their personality and their likes and dislikes.

mother holding newborn

Your baby will quickly start to recognize the sound of your voice, the sight of your face and the feel of your touch. Encourage learning with smiles, soothing sounds, and gentle caresses. When you smile and talk to your newborn, your face and the sound of your voice will become a familiar source of calm and comfort. Your little one will learn to associate you with nourishment, warmth, and a soothing touch.

Here are some ways in which you can play with your newborn to encourage development.

Face-to-Face Play

Newborns can only see about 8-12 inches in front of them so it’s good practice to get close to your baby for some face-to-face play and let them study your facial expressions. Smile, laugh and make funny faces and noises to entertain your baby. This is greatly stimulating for them and they will learn to respond to and eventually imitate your expressions. Engaging in face-to-face play will help familiarize your baby with your face and also encourage the development of key communication skills. A great time to practice this type of play is during diaper changes. You can even use a favorite toy for your newborn to focus on and follow, or shake a rattle for them to focus on.

Tummy Time

Giving your newborn tummy time each day is beneficial to their development. Allowing your baby some time while they are awake to lay on their tummy has multiple benefits. Your newborn will be able to practice holding their head up whilst strengthening their neck and shoulders and seeing the world around them from a different perspective. The babocush gives your newborn safe and secure tummy time which will improve their gross motor skills and lead them on their way towards crucial developmental milestones. Encouraging tummy time for your newborn will set the foundation for key muscle development which will later allow them to rollover, crawl and sit upright.

Fun While Folding

As parents, we are cursed with the task of never ending laundry. Although doing laundry may seem like a mundane task to adults it can actually be incredibly stimulating for your newborn to watch. Have your baby close by in their bassinet while you tackle the pile of clothes. Your newborn’s senses will be stimulated by the smell of fresh laundry, the vibrancy of different colored clothing and the rush of air as you shake and fold your bed sheets. This would also be a great time to engage your newborn in a game of peekaboo. You can talk with your baby as you go, about the colors, textures, and use for different items. (Feel this soft blanket. Look, it’s Daddy’s blue shirt!)

Read Aloud and Talk to Your Newborn

Reading early and often to your newborn is shown to promote brain development, increase processing speed, and increase vocabulary. Even though your newborn cannot understand the words you say, they love listening to your voice. The content of what you are reading won’t matter to your baby so you can use this time to catch up on some useful parenting blogs. You can also simply speak to your baby about what’s happening throughout the day. Whether you are picking up groceries, completing some household chores, or cooking, narrate the task aloud for your newborn to listen and engage.


Newborns love motion and find it soothing. You can cradle your baby in your arms or secure them in a sling while you gently sway with them to music. This can be super fun for both you and your little one. You can even groove on your own while your newborn is having some tummy time. Wear some flowing and colorful clothes to stimulate your baby’s senses and encourage them to raise their head so they can watch you dance. This can be nicely tied in with household chores and will create a joyful atmosphere for your baby to develop and grow in.

I hope you find these playtime activities helpful and fun!

Kerry x


Related blogs:

Tummy Time Duration By Age

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