Babies are adorable and awesome and snuggly.
You could spend all day staring at them. And in the beginning, you do. Happily. But then, you realize that you can’t simply stare at them all the time, and for the love of God, what do you do with them all day long?
That’s probably the question that I get asked the most as a mom and as the creator of this site. Because we all know how we’d like to fill a day around nap time, but our little ones usually have other ideas. Plus, we want to teach our babies some essential skills and set them on the right path to being good, productive members of society and—
Whoa, whoa, slow down there. After surviving the first few weeks, you just need to entertain them a little and love them a lot, and all will be good. Trust me.
So…what should be on your agenda if you’ve got a baby who’s 3 months or younger?
Get out of the house.
Some days, it feels overwhelming to leave the house with a newborn. Oh, who am I kidding? It feels that way every day with a newborn. But try to do it once a day, especially if it’s warm out. A little fresh air can change your mood instantly, and it’s also great for your little one as you point out all sorts of objects in the big, wide world…if he can stay awake. I’m pretty sure that my son didn’t seen anything except what was inside the walls of our apartment until he was 10 weeks old because he kept passing out as soon as we strolled through the front door!
Narrate everything you’re doing.
From brushing your hair to folding laundry, talk through the most mundane of tasks—to the most captive audience. This is bonding time and teaching time as baby listens to your voice and watches what you’re doing. It’s also the ultimate in multitasking, so you might feel more than a little proud of yourself.
Break out the play mat.
The toys hanging above their heads may look cute to you, but to them, with all of the bright colors and lights, it’s a veritable carnival. Plus, it’s great for when you want to make a sandwich and eat it without a baby in one arm. And let’s not forget baby, who can start practicing the all-important tummy time and strenghtening her upper body. Here’s my daughter, at just a few weeks old, completely transfixed by her rainforest baby gym. After baby hits the 4-month mark, you’ll want to switch to an exersaucer.
Look in the mirror.
Your little narcissist will love seeing himself and you, as you make silly faces at him, sing to him or pretend he’s Superbaby. This is also a great trick to get him to stop crying.
Sing songs, all day long.
Not all kiddie music will make you want to stab your eardrums out with a dull spoon. I am a big fan of Music Together, and I enrolled my son in a class when he was just 3 months old. (It’s also how I met three of my very best—and first—mom friends!) But even before that, we listened to the amazing Laurie Berkner (whose music you will actually love and sing along to even when you’re not with your kids) as well a CD that friends had made for us with their favorite classic children’s songs—many of which I didn’t know the actual words to before we started listening. It was one of the best new-baby presents we received.
Round out baby’s musical education with YouTube’s help.
It’s karaoke time! (Thank goodness my apartment walls are thick.) Pull up your favorite guilty-pleasure songs, complete with lyrics, and have at it. It’s bizarre, but even at this young age, kids will have opinions about which songs they like and which they don’t. Incidentally, this is why my son loves to pretend-play Ghostbusters and, at the age of 3, named one of his stuffed animals Toni Basil. Is that great parenting or what? Yeah, I’m going with “or what,” too, but hey, it works for us! Find what works for you.
Read to baby.
No, you won’t be cracking open Harry Potter just yet, but make use of that baby library you filled out during your baby shower sooner rather than later. Yes, research shows that reading out loud to kids increases their language skills and literacy, but equally important, you’re ingraining a love of reading in your little one and spending some smart, snuggly downtime together. Some of our favorites were Subway and So Big! (Elmo’s always a hit), as well as the soft, crinkly books in the really early days. My daughter was particularly obsessed with a soft My Little Pony–inspired book from Lamaze that didn’t even have words.
Mimic baby’s sweet sounds and expressions.
Even really young babies will be fascinated that you’re doing what they’re doing. It helps them build neural pathways in their brains, making new connections and learning about the world around them, as they have their first back-and-forth “conversations” with you. Trust me when I say you’ll be equally fascinated by these little exchanges.
You’re there…and then you’re not…and then you’re there again! It’s mommy magic! Babies are completely enthralled by this game and have amazing stamina when it comes to wanting you to do it again and again and again. And it’s so adorable, how could you say no?
Find the perfect baby toy.
There was nothing like the day that my then 6-week-old baby girl discovered stuffed animals—like, really saw them, as if for the first time. The biggest and best smiles ever! Every kid is different, but anything that rattles, plays music or otherwise makes noise and is super-colorful will also generally be fascinating to your little one.
Don’t underestimate the awesomeness of snuggles and baby talk.
I know, I know—I just gave you a whole list of other things to do. But this actually passes more time than you realize…and it’s pretty awesome. Stroke his little face, lightly tickle his belly and tell him how happy you are that he’s here because he’s the best little baby ever and you are the luckiest mommy to ever walk the planet. Because he is and you are.
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