That fresh smell of Newborn goodness just filled the room and can quite frankly, take your breath away!
As a new mom, I of course, became engrossed with my little guy and before I knew it, our daily routine was in full swing and completely revolved around nappies, feeding, MORE feeding, tiny naps, more nappies and more playtime! All this in between recovering from a C-section and trying to tackle the never-ending heap of laundry. My needs seemed to fall by the wayside as I felt the pressure of this fresh new life that depended on me to create a world for him to thrive as much as he could. I wanted to create a world that would stimulate his senses as best I could. With some ideas on hand, it became a little easier to manage some time, add some variety to our routine and know that I was stimulating my bubs’ development even with the simplest of things!
It started with simple things, like tummy time that took place during our skin-to skin sessions or our bath time and slowly the list grew. So I thought I’d put together a list that worked for us and a few important Benefits of these simple ideas. If you’re anything like me, a quick go-to list for some ideas always comes in handy.
A few thing to remember before getting started.
- The items listed below are not sponsored, we just love honest reviews.
- This list should not all be introduced at once, take it in strides, follow your little one’s pace and milestone cues. (See Milestone Chart down below)
- This list is in no way a substitute for any medical advice or therapy a child may be receiving.
- Start simple. LESS IS MORE and follow your own discretion. You’ll find that you do not need a million and ten things to keep your newborn stimulated.
- These stimulation ideas are quite versatile and can be adjusted to your baby’s needs.
- Ultimately babies learn through their senses. So without further ado, here are the few ideas we tried during our fourth trimester:
What your Toy Box will look like:
Source of Stimulation
What it stimulates
How it worked for us
- This can assist with so many developmental aspects:
- Visual development & tracking (following stimuli with their eyes). Babies learn to distinguish light, dark, near, far and even sharpen their blurry vision.
- Reach & Grasp develops (which is a predetermining factor for crawling)
- As a bonus, baby’s attention and concentration is developing too.
We were blessed with a little activity mat that has a self-moving musical mobile attached to it – Great, right?! It accommodates for three different play stages, including:
- Lay & Play
- Tummy time
- Sit & Play
It has been a real lifesaver to this day! Watching M’s awareness unfold as he discovers new things in his playmat, is just the most amazing!
2. Simple rattles and other musical toys
Dangling these objects above baby’s head can help develop eye muscles to track.
Visual development – this develops up to ±60cm within the first 2-3 months.
Of course, this also helps to track sound.
Gradually their grasp develops with these too, so it helps to find strong beaded strings or thin round shaped rattles with grasp holes and upgrade to cylindrical shaped rattles
Again, our activity mat with its musical component came in SO handy. The mobile toys are detachable and can be used as rattles with its crinkly little parts that really got my boy’s attention!
Sneaky Tip: When we placed our dangling objects just a little above baby’s line of sight, he was forced to look up in order to track the objects. This really works the eye muscles and resulted in him feeling sleepy much quicker (worked perfectly before nap times 😉)
- Babies explore using their mouths. You may start to notice baby bringing his/ her hands to midline and then to the mouth. Eventually they’ll start to test the temperature with their mouths too.
- Different objects will strengthen that grasp development going too.
4. A variety of textures to provide tactile stimulation. Even a simple cloth can be one of the very best toys during this stage.
- Activating and developing the senses that process and distinguish touch.
- Our bubs may not have an obvious reaction however just creating awareness of this sense is so vital 😊
During tummy time, I would place various textures in front of my boy and with hand over hand facilitation, allowed him to feel them all. Soon enough he started reaching for them himself.
Other times when he’d be chilling in his nappy, I’d let him practice his walking reflex and occasionally do this over the different fabrics/ textures.
5. Hard cover books with bright colours and textures.
Also, baby’s first books, made of fabric/material, including crinkly parts, felt and other textures.
- Again, visual & tactile stimulation.
- When reading to your baby, you’d also be stimulating listening & language skills.
M loved brightly coloured hardcover books! He’d just stare at the pictures and when he learned to, started grabbing at the book itself and touching the pictures too.
6. Tummy time – lots and lots and LOTS of it.
I cannot stress this enough! The benefits are endless!
- You’re working on anything from strengthening the core muscles to developing head and neck control, upper body strength, which ultimately provides a basis for all other gross motor milestones, including pull to sit without head lag, independent sitting, crawling and eventually walking.
- In these early stages, tummy time may take place from 1-2 minutes to eventually 15-30 minute intervals several times per day.
- Tummy time on a slant (example positioned on your chest, etc) makes it a tad easier for them to work their muscles and control their movements as they’re not working against gravity as much.
Another Sneaky tip:
When babies lie on their tummies, most of the weight lands up in the head and neck area, which makes it difficult to control, but when you place your hand on the upper buttock area, applying light pressure, the weight is somewhat equalised. This allows them to better control and lift their heads.
- This is a great way to get baby to learn some social skills, which occur as they respond through babbling, touching and reaching.
- They also love face time (and no, not the Apple app), which is great for developing self- awareness. 😊
We had mobile mirrors stationed in different parts of the house and along his mattress. This meant lots of mirror time when we’d walk and dance around the house.
Smaller mirrors were incorporated during playtime that came with our activity mat, which was great!
8. **** And now for the main source of Stimulation: YOU as the caregiver/parent ****
- Everything you do, your baby is absorbing – no pressure at all!
- From eye-contact to face time to smiling, singing, reading and being a living playground; YOU are your baby’s source of all that is good in this world, their safe haven and comfort, nourishment – their home.
9. Tiny outings or Walks outside
- Regulated Fresh air for baby on warmer days gives our little ones a sensory experience of a different kind.
- Aside from a completely different environment, they are also given an opportunity to allow their bodies to regulate temperature, experience different sounds and feel the air against their skin.
As my boy grew, sunny days called for little walks in his stroller – even if this was just to the back yard.
For a fun little sensory experience, I lightly lifted a breathable blanket in the air and over him. I’d repeat this a few times and he loved it!
10. Lastly one of my FAVOURITES is baby wearing.
Again, the benefits are brilliant!
- This facilitates close contact with mom/dad and one of the things I love is the vestibular input baby receives from baby-wearing, which is basically movement input and balance information that usually helps with body awareness and postural security to name a few.
- The calmer sense of movement combined with close contact creates a sense of primal/survival needs being met.
- It also reliefs colic and helps with digestion! (the combination of an upright held position and gravity).
With all these benefits, it’s no surprise they end up falling asleep so quickly.
If you made it this far, then yay! I hope you found this helpful – if so, drop a comment below and fill the contact form to download your very own free milestone chart!