Your baby's favourite playmate is you – so try to spend time playing with your baby every day. Did you know that playing actually requires a lot of your baby's brain and muscle power?
It helps develop their social, intellectual, language and problem-solving skills – and is one of the main ways they learn about the world.
Newborns love it when you tickle their face or count their fingers and toes. Most babies love playing peek-a-boo over and over again. When they are really little, they love just wriggling around on the floor – it's like baby exercise for them and good for their muscle development.
Ways to play and interact with your baby
- Singing to your baby: they love the sound of your voice (no matter how you sound), so sing a song, nursery rhyme or just freestyle and make your own songs up.
- Talking to your baby: describe the things around you, recite a nursery rhyme or read a book. It doesn't really matter what you talk about – it all helps with their communication skills.
- Clapping: take turns clapping your hands and their hands together. Clapping is actually a pretty big milestone once they can do it themselves. It requires a fair amount of muscle control, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
- Dancing: put some music on and dance with your baby in your arms. Most babies love the gentle rocking motion and being so close to you. This is great for bonding with your baby and their emotional development.
- Play with toys: encourage your baby to reach for, push and pull their toys. This is a simple way to stimulate your baby and improve their coordination.
Tummy time is a great way to help build your baby's upper body strength. You can start doing tummy time from birth by lying your baby on your chest (but only do this when you are wide awake and unlikely to fall asleep). Gradually increase the amount of time you do this day by day. Then when your baby is ready, try doing tummy time on the floor.
Tummy time helps strengthen the back, neck and shoulders, as well as giving them a different view of the world!
My baby doesn't really enjoy tummy time!
Don't worry, this is very normal for lots of babies. If you've been trying to do tummy time on the floor and your baby isn't really that keen you could try:
- lying your baby on your chest, or lap
- putting some toys out within easy reach
- talking, singing, interacting with your baby
- propping your baby up a bit by putting a small, rolled-up towel under their arms
Try doing this every day, for a short amount of time, you'll gradually build tummy time until your baby is used to it.
Your baby will probably start crawling (although not all babies crawl – some shuffle around on their bottoms) at around 7 to 10 months. These are exciting times for you and your baby – plus it gives them a bit of independence and a chance to explore their surroundings.
Can you create a space in your house where your baby can explore safely? If you're worried that your baby isn't showing any signs of moving by 12 months, ask your health visitor for advice.