By Rishma Lalani, Owner of Itsabelly LLC,  Baby Concierge & Planning Services for New and Expectant Parents

You (and your partner) have made it passed the morning sickness, losing control of your body, and labour so now its time to have some fun. Babies can “play” right from birth and will continue to become more and more engaged in their surroundings.

Here are some ideas on how you can bond and play with your baby:

1. Love n’ Cuddles 
• Newborns require lots of body contact. Simply holding your baby helps foster a sense of security and allows both of you to get to know each other better Skin-to-skin contact for nursing mothers. Stimulate the sense of touch and smell for your baby as well as stimulate your body to produce colostrum/milk.

2. Two peas in a pod 
• Baby “wearing” is re-gaining in popularity. You can choose from a variety of sling styles (ability to adjust in many positions), front carriers (allows baby to be facing inward or outward), and backpacks (only to be used once your baby can sit unsupported).
• Contrary to modern belief…you will not spoil your baby by “wearing” him/her but rather be providing the security and confidence he/she needs for the future and maybe even get in a few household chores with your free hands!

3. Spa Time

• Touch and movement are amongst the first senses to develop in the womb so massage helps a newborn connect to this new external environment and his/her parents.
• Using organic sunflower or grape seed oil, massage your baby for 10-20 minutes. This not only relaxes the baby but also promotes good posture, flexibility, stimulates digestion, and increases muscle co-ordination.

4. Mini-concert 
• Sing and expose your baby to various types of songs and music (not just those specifically for children). Have fun and dance to the music as well!
• Benefits include: relaxation (soothe/calm), promotes vocal development, and increases listening skills.

5. Mini-School 
• Read often. This ritual teaches/builds an infants listening, memory and vocabulary skills.
• Try to memorize a few favorite books which allow you to concentrate on engaging your baby with the use of varying tones and pointing to the pictures introducing him/her to the concept of expressions.
• Talk to your baby throughout the day, describe what you are doing or seeing in order to engage him/her in his/her surroundings.

6. Interactive Games

• Playing various cause-and-effect games such as peek-a-boo, jack-in-the-box help teach your baby about object permanence (they concept that things exist even if you can’t see them).

7. New Discoveries – At Home

• Your home is filled with items that can be used to entertain your little one. Create a toy box or assign a kitchen cupboard filled with items such as pots/pans, wooden spoons, toilet paper rolls that he/she can discover and play with.
• For the older infant you can make a dress up chest, homemade bubbles and play dough which are fun and safe.

8. New Discoveries – Out and about 
• Go for walks outdoors if possible; the fresh air is good for both you and the baby. Be sure to talk/describe your surroundings along the way!
• Participate in mommy-baby groups, whether just for a social get together or fitness activities, socialization is important and provides you with an outlet for adult interaction and the infant an introduction to collaborative play.

9. Tube Time 
• Each family will decide if and how much television is permitted for the child. While there could be a whole article dedicated to this topic alone, the main tip is that should you allow your baby to watch TV, be sure that you are close by and interacting with him/her at the same time to communicate and engage in what they are watching.

10. Toys 
• Today there are a plethora of toys on the market. Do not feel pressured to turn your home into a toy store, rather get to know your baby and select those toys that will help stimulate them.
• For newborns look for contrasting (bold black/white pattern) toys, something they can grasp, something that makes noise.
• For older infants, look for bright coloured toys and ensure there are no parts smaller than ¼ inch which may cause choking hazards.
• Most importantly minimize any exposure to harmful toxins found in most mass-produced toys. Look for natural wood (such as maple and beech) toys that are finished with non-toxic paints or soft toys made with organic cotton (both the “stuffing” and the exterior).

The key thing to remember is that YOU are your baby’s best entertainment. Take the time to enjoy simply bonding with your baby which will help create a secure environment in which he/she can explore their sensory-motor skills leading to social, physical, and cognitive development.

LEARN MORE about Itsabelly LLC,  Baby Concierge & Planning Services for New and Expectant Parents