When your baby is first born, you both need to recover from the birth and you need to adjust to having a newborn around. It is exhausting because Baby basically just eats, sleeps, and poops all day and night, so there are not very many opportunities for you to socialize. However, it is vital for you to start building your relationship with your little bundle of joy.
Even though adjusting to newborns is hard, a way to make the transition smoother is by starting to naturally and confidently socialize with them. In the beginning it can all feel pretty one-sided, especially when they just intensely stare at you, but as they get older, they will be able to laugh and squeal, and follow along with you. Here are some ideas for what to do to interact with your baby between the ages of 0-6 months.
- Hum and Sing softly to them
- A perfect time to do this is during feeding time. Enhance it by frequently doing skin-to-skin (even if you do formula. Just take your shirt off and cuddle it up under a fuzzy warm blanket).
- Do you think you sound more like a whale than a bird when you sing? It doesn’t matter. No one except your baby and family can hear you, and it can be more like whispering lyrics, so you can do it 😉
- Simply talk to your baby.
- Tell them what you are doing and describe to them what is going on.
- During diaper changes say things like: “Woah! That was a big poo-poo!” and “Look at your little tummy working and getting better at pushing out food!” or “Man, what did mommy eat? Your poop is green now!”
- During washing time it is very important for you to talk to them calmly, because it is a new, sometimes scary situation (getting wet and rubbed all over is weird at first), so trying to soothe them lets them know you are there and that they are going to be okay. Just tell them: “We are going to wash your hair now! You will feel so nice and refreshed after this!” and “Woop, now down to your toesies! Scrub a dub dub, they are so tiny and cute! Look at how well you are doing!”
- Say things in a happy tone. Even (especially) when you are frustrated (“Your barf landed in my HAIR???”), if you say things in a happy way, or make it funny, it helps you laugh about it in the moment. And you won’t scare your baby (as opposed to yelling). It is challenging to get used to this whole newborn baby thing. Your entire way of life and focus of your day has just changed, so you should not expect it to be a flawless adjustment. Just go with the flow of things. It’s worth it. In the beginning I pretty much always had milk pouring down my shirt, spit up on my pants, and baby pee or mommy milk in my bed, so what did I do? I either washed the sheets every day or slept on a towel and showered a lot. Things do get better. Your boobs will get it together, and your baby will learn bladder control.
- Start doing/singing interactive songs.
- This goes along with the first bullet point, but while I was nursing IV, I would lean back and rest his little body on my nursing pillow so both of my hands were free, or I would nurse lying down, and I would sing The Wheels on the Bus, or The Wise Man and the Foolish Man, or The Itsy, Bitsy Spider, etc, and brush my fingers on his face and do all the hand motions, and his little eyes would occasionally light up. As he got older he would recognize the songs and now he really enjoys them and thinks they are hilarious!
- Tummy Time! It’s never too early to start!
- It is important to monitor them, and not let them fall asleep on their bellies, but start letting them exercise those teensy neck and ab muscles. Start them off on top of your chest, belly, or legs, then gradually move them to the floor.
- Putting them on a Boppy pillow, or on a rolled up towel or blanket sometimes makes it more bearable for them. It will probably only be in five minute chunks, but don’t be afraid to do it at three days old.
- They will probably be happier if someone plays with them, talks to them, or sings to them while they are working out. Again, make sure they are being monitored, and do not fall asleep. If they do fall asleep, promptly flip them onto their backs.
- Back Play time:
- Usually when IV would start getting fussy on his tummy, I would slowly roll him over onto his back so he could start getting the feel of rolling over, then I would play with him on his back.
- Sometimes they are done being on the ground pretty quickly, and want to be held, so just pick them up. IV would alternate between stretches of tolerating the ground and hating it, so we would adjust accordingly.
- Swings and Vibrating chairs:
- When IV was first born, he would just cry when we put him in his swing. Eventually, Dad found out that was because it was going too slow. We had to put it full speed ahead before he actually enjoyed sitting in it. His vibrating chair, on the other hand, he liked right off the bat. He would just stare at the mobile and listen to the music that played. However, he did go through a phase where he did not like it because it did not move as much, so it was not as exciting to him as his swing was. Over time he has gotten bored with the swing (it does not have a mobile), but he still likes the vibrating chair (we never really set it to vibrate anymore, he just likes being able to bat at the stuffed animals that hang down).
- My point with the above bullet point was to show that just because your baby does not like a certain toy, or position, or anything, at first, at a different stage of life he might like it more. Don’t just throw it out immediately. (ex: If they don’t like hats and sunglasses at first, just keep trying.)
- Wearing them:Whether it is a harness, a sling, or a wrap, I recommend wearing your baby. But… I don’t do it very often. IV did not ever really like the Moby Wrap. To be secure it needs to be too tight, and when Baby is newborn, you have to tuck their head into the wrap to keep it safe, but IV always refused. He would wiggle his head out, unless he was asleep. We used it more when he was ready to fall asleep, but was feeling clingy.
- Dance with your baby!
- Last, but not least, turn up those tunes, or get your singing voice on, and grace the living room floor with all the crazy fun moves you can come up with. Try not to do anything that jolts your baby. Keep your hand on his head (even if they have fantastic head control), and sacrum, and wiggle it up. (You can also dance while wearing them, but make sure to support their head and neck)
Hello! If you have any feedback, I would love to hear it!
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