Many mothers of young babies report feeling guilty if their baby is awake and not being entertained. However, after a few minutes of trying to entertain your newborn, you may feel yourself running out of material or see your baby’s concentration shift to staring at the wall rather than your performance. Today, we’ll talk about how to entertain your baby and what they find fun.
Can my baby get bored?
Child psychologists believe that young babies can get bored and lonely if nobody plays with them. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to be ready with a song and dance the second they wake up. If your baby is sitting peacefully, this usually means they’re not bored. The world is so new to your baby that they need time just to stare into space and process all of the new things they have seen that day, or simply to rest their brain. Sometimes the blank wall can be quite soothing for your baby in this world of information overload.
Signs that your baby is bored include squirming and crying. Babies have very few signals that they’re capable of giving, so if your baby is fed, clean and not sleepy, they could be fussing out of boredom.
What to do when my baby is bored?
Newborns don’t need lots of toys. Their brain is still trying to work out why their own little fingers wiggle around so much, so having 20 different sensory-stimulating toys around them may feel a little bit overwhelming. Your baby will never be bored as long as they have you nearby and they can see you. Watching how you interact with the world around you is hugely fascinating to them because they’ve just arrived and they’re finding it pretty intense. Your baby will usually be happy to simply marvel at how well you navigate your own home.
When buying a bouncer for your baby, consider that your baby is going to want to look around. If your baby is spending most of their time in a Moses basket, they’re likely to become fussy quicker than if they were able to look around, regardless of age. Newborn babies can only see clearly 1-foot in front of them, however, they can see changes in lighting and shadows, so they’re still quite amused by their surroundings. Look for a bouncer which doesn’t leave them staring at the ceiling. Even if their bouncer has built-in toys, the toys will never be as interesting as watching their new world going by. This also gives you the chance to get things done while your baby is awake.
Wearing your baby in a sling or baby carrier is one of the best ways to keep them happy and relaxed. It also has the added benefit of being very entertaining for them. The movement of your body, the sound of your voice, looking at the world from a higher vantage point, your baby couldn’t ask for better entertainment. It also has the added benefit of being hands-free, strengthening your bond, boosting breastmilk production, promoting baby’s language development, decreasing your baby’s risk of SIDS and preventing flat-head syndrome!
Tummy Time is the activity of placing your baby on their tummy to play. It helps them to strengthen their neck and back muscles and can be done from the day your baby comes home from the hospital. Many babies hate Tummy Time and will cry when placed face-down but make sure to persevere as it’s a very important and eventually very entertaining activity. Start by doing Tummy Time little and often, doing two-minute sessions multiple times per day. If your baby is really upset by being placed on the floor, allow them to do Tummy Time on your chest as you lie down, or across your lap while you sit. You can make Tummy Time more interesting by getting on the floor with your baby, inviting their older sibling to join, or placing a small plastic mirror in front of them so they can gaze at themselves.
Be the Entertainer
Your newborn loves your face, they love to watch how your face moves, to look at your expressions and to take in all the wonders of you. Pull funny faces at your baby and make happy sounds, you’ll be surprised how quickly they begin to mimic your expressions and sounds. Your baby will love to listen to you sing (even if nobody else does) as the varying and elongated tones are new and exciting for them. They’ll love to see you dance because the exaggerated body movements will leave them in awe of the level of movement your body (and, therefore, their own body) can achieve.
Read to your baby
Babies are never too young to be read to. Create a comfy, quiet space for you and your baby to read books together. Reading books is extremely beneficial for young babies as they are listening to your voice for a prolonged time, they’re looking at the book, how the pages turn and getting used to the act of sitting down to read a book. From about 3 months old your baby will become interested in the colours and textures in the book and begin to see the book as a source of discovery. Some young babies may not enjoy sitting to read a book and that’s fine. Up to 6 months of age, reading to your baby is just meant to build positive habits and stimulate their brain by listening to you talk continuously for a period of time. From 6 months onwards your baby will reap the most benefit from sitting down to read with you.
Getting to know your baby
All of the methods we have discussed are suggestions based on what we know about babies in general. As you get to know your baby you’ll learn what activities they find the most entertaining. This will help you get to know their rapidly developing personality and make the most of these early months. Preventing your baby from being bored is likely one of the most enjoyable jobs you have as a parent to a young baby. Enjoy the bonding and resist the feelings of guilt. Your baby is getting to know the world around them, but they’re sure of one thing – you’re their favourite thing in this weird new world!