Playtime: 0 to 3 Months Old
Entertainment is the name of the game.
After nearly a year of pregnancy and the intensity of labor and delivery, your baby has finally arrived. But between eating, putting them down to sleep, and diaper changes, you may be wondering what to do with a newborn—or if such things as newborn activities even exist. The good news is that they do, and playfully interacting with your baby is just as important as taking care of your little one’s basic needs. You might’ve even already had playtime without even realizing it.
Engaging with your infant physically, visually, and linguistically are vital aspects of bonding with them and their overall development, especially in their first weeks and months. And there are 0 to 3-month activities that can help them along—and that get more fun with each milestone they hit. So read on to learn what newborn activities, 1 month old baby activities, 2 month old baby activities, and 3 month old baby activities you can do to maximize your “baby and me” time.
Aside from the fundamentals, many parents wonder what to do with a newborn. Granted, they sleep a lot (up to 18 hours for every 24). Nonetheless, this “4th trimester,” as it’s known, is a period of transition for you both—however few waking hours there may be. Everything your infant sees, hears, feels, smells, and tastes is brand new to them, so even the simplest activities are blockbuster, causing their neurons to rapidly fire away making new connections. And you can begin leveraging that from the day you bring them home with these newborn activities.
Touch & response
Get to know your baby from the top of their head to their tippy toes. Gently touch their forehead, hands, arms, belly, legs, and feet, and take in how they wiggle or react in response to you. It’s a great way for you two to start connecting.
Talk & sing
Your infant may not understand what you’re saying yet, but they've been able to recognize your voice since your 3rd trimester, well before they were even born. Talking or singing to them helps develop their language skills, despite them being so teeny-tiny, especially if you’re describing you, them, or objects in their environment.
Playing similar music
Whether it’s music on the mobile in their nursery or from any of your devices, playing songs that are similar to each other helps foster your little darling’s recognition and listening skills.
There are numerous benefits to massaging your baby—even some surprising ones. Each little rub down you give them helps their physical, behavioral, and emotional development in significant ways. Plus, it’s sure to feel divine for them, and can even help you relax too. Another bonus: Studies have shown that parents who gave their babies regular massages adapted to parenthood better, felt they had a stronger relationship with their infants, and had more confidence in their mommying and daddying abilities. Learn how to give your baby a massage.
Exercise is crucial for anyone’s health, and it’s truly never too early to start. Lay your baby on their tummy (but only when they’re awake, never when they’re sleeping). They may not be too happy about it at first, since their neck and back muscles aren’t very strong yet. But practicing tummy time a few minutes each day encourages them to learn to lift their head and develop their core strength.
Mommy Pro Tip: You can practice tummy time anytime your baby is awake, but a good time to put them on their belly is for a minute or so right after you change their diaper. That way, you’re sure they get some daily exercise in, however brief, throughout the day.
You can help work those muscles even more by placing your infant onto your chest while you're laying down and holding them firmly to keep them in place. Like tummy time, it will help teach them to lift that wobbly noggin and strengthen their core.
Starting in their second week, shake any toys that have been hanging from a mobile above their crib or play gym to wiggle them. This provides entertaining objects and colors for them to look at to help develop their vision. Change them up every couple of weeks to keep things interesting.
Change snoozing direction
If your baby’s been sleeping with their head closer to the left side of their crib, the next night, place them closer to the right. The change-up will help strengthen their neck muscles, since they’ll want to see you and have to turn in different positions in order to do so. Just remember to always only place them on their back to sleep.
Mommy Pro Tip: When you’re putting together their baby room, adopt the perspective of your infant as if they’re already crawling or walking around, and make sure their nursery is super safe with these nursery safety tips.
Near the end of their first month, your infant will begin to notice their surroundings more and more. Take advantage of it! Take them over to a mirror and tap on it so they glance over. Then, ask them who they see in it, and say a rhyme like, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the cutest baby of them all?” This will help develop their vision and self-recognition. You can even get a child-safe mirror and hang it on their crib where they can see it.
Sitting practice runs
Lay your infant on their back so they're facing you, then slowly raise them by the shoulders until they’re in a sitting position (while supporting their head), and gently lower them back down. You can do this a bunch of times to help build up those baby abs.
Mommy Pro Tip: Once your little one can support their head on their own, at around 4 months old, you can do these reps holding their hands to help them learn how to sit.
Gently tap your baby on different parts of their body and say “boop-boop,” or other cute sounds specifically for each area. This can help them develop their sense of self-awareness and touch, and they may even start watching your hands and anticipating each movement.
Even though your little one won’t be able to hold a rattle until they’re around 9 months old, doing the boogie while shaking a rattle can be amusing to them while helping to develop their hearing.
Congrats! You and your baby have made it to their 1-month birthday. You can celebrate with them by adding some 1-month-old baby activities to your repertoire. Since they’re becoming more aware of their surroundings, be sure there are no distractions like screens, then try the below during playtime.
Talk, talk, then talk some more
There’s no way to talk a baby’s ear off, so chat them up! Simply talking is a type of play, and it helps develop their language, social, and playing skills. Try asking them something, like if they’re hungry, then take a pause. Of course, they won’t be able to answer you, but the pause is helping to teach them that talking is a two-way street.
While holding your baby securely over your shoulder, sway this way and that or gently bounce around a bit. The movement will usually be enjoyable for them, plus it will help them begin to get used to the pressure against their tummy when they’re on your shoulder.
While you sing the “patty cake” song, hold your baby’s hands and go through the motions of the song: “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man (clapping), bake me a cake as fast as you can. Roll it (circle their hands around each other), pat it (clap), and mark it with a ‘B’ (draw a ‘B” in the air). Put it in the oven for (say their name) and me (pat their tummy)!” Then, end with a big smooch. If your little one is really having a good time, you sing it again and can go through the motions faster each time.
Use a sock to make a hand puppet and talk to your infant with it or make it give them kisses. Move it all around—back and forth, up and down—and do silly dances and songs. The sillier, the better!
At around two months old, your infant will start to make their first strides in their motor development, as well as likely begin to make gurgling and cooing sounds. Whenever they coo, say something back to them to reinforce that communication goes both ways. Faces will all of a sudden become really interesting and familiar, and they can recognize people they see frequently and follow things with their eyes. This all makes for even more fun playtime. So, give some of the following 2-month-old baby activities a shot and see what happens.
Show your infant around the house and from different perspectives, like raising them up to different heights while narrating what you’re doing and seeing.
When your infant is on the floor, like during tummy time, get down to their level and encourage them to look at you. You can also use a mirror to show your baby themselves from a new angle. All this helps to develop their head-lifting and motor skills even further.
Your baby will likely become fascinated by people’s faces by the time they’re this age. Feed their curiosity by showing them pictures of themselves, family, and friends. Show them the people that are smiling, then smile at them yourself, even draw a smiley face to show them, or hang in their nursery. Drawing attention to faces and smiles help develop their ability to focus.
Put a stuffed animal or other soft toy with a face at their arm’s length and move it around. This will develop their ability to track objects with their eyes, their visual focus, and their sense of touch.
Take another tour of your home and stop in front of any mirrors. Point at your eyes, and ask your baby if they see them. Then, ask if they see their eyes and point them out. Doing so can help them identify themselves and foster emotional development.
Place your infant face down across your knees in a tummy time position and rub their back. This position serves the same purpose as tummy time, but allows you to help keep them calm and steady.
Move to the music
Add to your choreographed singing like “Patty Cake” with songs like “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” and “The Wheels on the Bus.”
Use your sock puppet to make more elaborate movements such as circles, figure eights, and so on to help further develop their visual-tracking skills.
Show your baby a toy or baby-safe object in the house, like measuring spoons, then move it close to each of their hands so it touches them. Doing so can help encourage them to start making grasping motions.
Gently clap your baby’s hands together while saying “clap.” Clap them in the front, to the side, over their head, and to their other side to help develop their body awareness.
Tap & sing
Your voice is truly music to your baby’s ears. Make it even more enjoyable for them and introduce them to a new sound all at once by singing a song and tapping the bottom of their feet in tune with it.
Place your infant on their back and “cycle” their legs as if they were on a bike. Say “go,” then “stop,” as you move their little feeties in slow circles. This helps both their motor and hearing skills development. As an added bonus, it can also help dislodge gas.
Mommy Pro Tip: If your little one is gassy, it can be uncomfortable or even painful for them. Help get rid of excess gas fast with Infants’ Mylicon Gas Relief Drops in either our dye-free or original formula. They quickly break gas bubbles down to help your baby naturally release them. Plus, the active ingredient, simethicone, won’t stay in your little one’s system—it’s not even absorbed.
By the time your baby reaches 3 months old and you both near the end of your fourth trimester, you may begin to get into a regular day-to-day groove. They’ll be even more aware of their surroundings and coo-municative—so much so that they may get fussy if they’re bored. But they may start to be able to calm themselves down briefly by sucking away with the good ol’ hand-in-the-mouth trick. Their eyes may search you out and, best of all, you may even catch your first glimpses of their chubby, gummy, adorable little smile. Keep them beaming by adding some of these 3-month-old activities and games to your playtime docket.
Now that your baby is cooing and gurgling more, be sure to respond to them to help teach them how communication works and start creating building blocks for language development. Even something as simple as telling them what you’re doing as you prep dinner or regaling them with a family story in a sing-songy voice can help create a foundation for speaking.
Your baby probably has a few favorite toys by now. Place your infant down in a tummy time position and play with them one at a time in front of your little one to help encourage them to lift their head.
Grab simple objects, like measuring spoons or baby keys, and dangle them in front of your baby. If a dangling object makes sound or lights up, that could be even more fun for your infant. The goal is to get them to swat at the object and help develop hand-eye coordination. Just be sure not to leave them alone with anything with a string or similar choking hazard attached to it.
Bring on the cheese and make silly faces and different facial expressions accompanied by fun noises to entertain them. You can even stick out your tongue and encourage them to do the same. Your heart may just melt when they smile back at you. Plus, you’ll be tuning their attention towards you to develop listening and communication skills. When they beam back at you or stick out their tongue, it will also help develop their facial and oral muscles.
If you really want to blow your baby’s mind, try playing peek-a-boo with them. Your little angel hasn’t yet developed a sense of object permanence, which means that when you hide your face behind your hands or another object, you may as well have gone poof! and disappeared into thin air. So, imagine their confusion—and delight—when you “return.” Peek-a-boo not only helps develop their memory and play skills, it might also help prime your infant for their first cherubic giggle.
Holding your baby firmly and close to you, slide one hand and arm between both of their legs, then up their tummy and chest. Carefully raise them up, down, then all around, exclaiming each position as you do to help build their strength and communication skills.
Exploration from different vantage points
Take your baby around the house while holding them in different positions like on your shoulder facing backwards, down low, and up high. They’ll experience different movements and perspectives, while helping to develop control of their head.
Teach your infant more about their tiny face and body by guiding them to point to and touch different parts of themselves from their heads, cheeks, and ears to their arms, legs, feet, and tummy while naming each part as you go. They may even smile and giggle, since their sense of touch is fully developed around this age.
Next: As your baby nears the 4-month mark, buckle up for even more fun. Their development will pick up speed—and so will their interactions with you. Learn all about what 4- to 6-month-old activities you can do with them to ratchet up playtime even more.