If you’re like me you had no idea what to do with a newborn baby at home. You carry her around for nine months in your belly, dreaming of the days you’ll spend together. Then, you go into labor, bring home your new bundle of joy and realize you have no idea how to play with your newborn. I didn’t even know what infant activities were even feasible at this stage. They sleep a lot, cry all the time, and to be honest aren’t all that much fun at first.
If you’ve ever wondered what the heck people do all day with their newborns or what to do with an infant at home, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve rounded up 15+ infant play activities you can do with your newborn at home. Get ready for some boredom busting newborn play between your little one’s next naps!
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You’re actually probably already doing a lot of the items on this list, but doing them in a more structured way makes them “playtime friendly” and also ensures you’re promoting sensory development. Without further ado her are 15+ things to do with your baby.
Read a book with different voices or with sensory textures. The differences in pitch will be interesting for your baby and allowing him to explore the pages and different feelings of fabrics and textures helps with sensory development.
While you probably won’t get through the next great American novel, this is something fun to help break up the time between naps.
Related: The 10 Best Books for Infants
Your baby already loves the sound of your voice. She’s been listening to you for nine months in the womb. Have a sing a long and allow her to hear the different notes as you sing. This is easy sensory stimulation and you can even do it along with the radio.
Alexa anyone? She knows a lot of songs.
Dancing is a bonus activity because it helps get you back in shape, AND just might put your newborn to sleep. Dancing around the room together creates closeness and time for baby snuggles while getting you up out of a chair.
Babies love close time with their mammas and the dancing motions might be what gets them down for that next nap.
We loved our Boba Wrap when our daughter was really young. Wrapping the baby and dancing is an awesome way to bond.
Do tummy time together
Laying down beside your baby and encouraging them while they do tummy time is a way to make it more fun for them and interactive for you. No one wants to be staring at a clock counting the minutes for tummy time while baby fusses.
Lay down beside your baby and encourage them during tummy time. Let her grab your hand or do a supported tummy time on a boppy to change up the routine.
Since you’re doing tummy time frequently you’re going to want a non-toxic baby playmat. Many of the foam mats off gas VOCs that you won’t want the baby inhaling. We love our babycare baby playmat, and the Alzipmat baby playmat as well. Both have great impact protection once your little one starts walking, and I didn’t hesitate to put my newborn down for tummy time on either of these mats.
Baby play mats are also great for far beyond just infant activities – she’s used her mat well into the toddler and preschool years. If you don’t already have one I highly recommend that you check one out.
Do tummy time exercises
While your baby is doing tummy time, make it more engaging by creating “exercises” for her to do. Put a rattle or something else in front of baby to encourage reaching, or shake the rattle on one side of her head to encourage head movement.
Many babies don’t like tummy time so the bonus here is that you’re distracting your baby along with building muscles.
Make funny noises or sounds when you touch your baby on different body parts. Although she won’t know what the body parts are or exactly what you’re doing, it’s never too early to start.
It’s also fun for babies to try and anticipate what you’re going to do next, so switching from foot to hand to belly keeps them engaged. Raspberries on baby’s tummy are super fun during infancy.
Let them look in a mirror
Yes, this seems a little dull, but your baby will think it’s amazing. I would never have thought to put this on a list of infant activities until I talked to my mom. She did this with me and said I would be entertained for hours by staring at myself in the mirror. I’m not sure what this says about my newborn brain, but if I was happy, why should I complain?
My daughter didn’t love this nearly as much as I did, but we did get a plastic mirror for her to look in while she was little. At the very least it’s additional visual stimulation and gives you an excuse to put the baby down for a few minutes.
*Note: Don’t ever leave baby alone with a glass mirror. While the odds are unlikely it will fall or she will break it, it’s not worth the risk. We got a plastic mirror just to be on the super safe side. Here’s a link to an acrylic safety mirror for reference.
“Play” with a balloon
Once baby starts kicking, tie a balloon to her leg and watch the giggles begin. As she kicks the balloon will move and jump around.
She’ll work on learning cause and effect when she stops moving or kicks vigorously. Expect some giggles with this one if you’re beyond a few months old.
Face baby in a new position during baby-wearing
Wear baby facing outward for a new view during baby wearing. If they’re used to always being tucked into your chest, this will be a totally new sensory experience for them.
Depending on baby’s age she may have a strong preference to be facing inward or outward. It’s an easy thing to change up while you’re working around the house for some additional visual stimulation.
We loved our Ergo Baby 360 Carrier once our daughter turned three months old. We wore her mainly wrapped in the Boba before then, but at three months she felt super secure in the Ergo. Since we could carry her in so many different positions, it was great so that she never got bored!
Play on an activity mat
Let baby play on a piano or kick something noisy like a cookie sheet. These activity mats are great for kicking and banging on the piano if it’s detached from the mat. You get sensory stimulation two ways!
Our daughter didn’t start reaching for the toys until after 10 weeks old, but she certainly watched and kicked before then. Once she was already on the move, we detached the piano and allowed her to bang around on the keyboard for continued fun.
We had the Fisher Price Kick N Play Piano Gym, and apparently we weren’t alone. It has over 3,000 reviews on Amazon and is currently five stars.
Read sensory stimulating books
Reading by itself is fun. Reading sensory stimulating books is a bonus and helps development even further. Sensory books come in multiple forms. We loved the touch and feel baby animal books, the monster texture books, and the cloth crinkle books the most.
Touch and feel animal books have different fur textures, the monster book has different plastic ridging and textures, and the crinkle book is crunchy with great sound effects. Our daughter LOVED crinkle items during her first few months. Here is our favorite book – conveniently on Amazon.
Bicycle baby’s feet
This is one of the infant activities we usually associate with relieving gas, but it also helps muscle development and can be fun for baby.
Bicycle your baby’s legs back and forth and sing songs or come up with other fun activities to do with the bicycle.
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You can shake a baby rattle on both sides of your baby’s head to encourage muscle tone and baby to turn her head towards noises.
We had a regular baby rattle but really loved our NogginStik, which lit up and changed colors, AND had a small mirror on the bottom. This was one of our daughter’s favorite toys and she LOVED seeing the colors change as the rattle shook.
Unfortunately they don’t sell the NogginStik on Amazon anymore, but it looks like it was replaced with the NogginSeek, pictured below. I included this as an option in case you’re all about instant gratification and that Prime shipping 🙂
Go for a walk
This is another double bonus. It gives your baby more locations to explore and get fresh air for her face, and also gets you off the couch.
Wait until you’re cleared for activity, but we went for walks every day after my six week checkup. I credit this walk + nap with allowing me to lose my baby weight the first time by three months when I went back to work.
Make faces at your baby and wait for her to begin imitating. She’ll stick her tongue out and make funny faces, around four months. This is really fun for both baby and mom.
Bonus activity: Water play
Fill a small bowl or cookie sheet with water and allow baby to have some fun with water play. It’s additional sensory stimulation and once baby starts splashing she’ll be in for tons of fun.
I hope these infant activities help you find fun things to do at home with your newborn. Before you know it, she’ll hit six months, be on the move, and will continue to develop even more of a personality.
If you have any other infant activities or sensory development ideas that I missed please leave them in the comments below!
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