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Play & learning

Playing with your newborn baby is an important part of your baby’s development. You can help your baby learn about themselves and the world through play. Most of your baby’s brain development happens in the first 3 years.

If your baby was born prematurely, count their developmental stages (like growing and learning to smile or sit) from their due date, not their birth date.

Play (Te tākaro) - helping your baby’s brain develop

Take time to talk to, play with, cuddle, and have fun with your baby. Babies thrive on attention. Some ideas for activities that help babies learn:

  • Look at faces and things inside and outside the home.

  • Talk, sing, or read to them. Babies learn by hearing your voice e.g. “Mummy’s going to change your nappy now”.

  • Go out in the front pack or pram and spend time around other babies.

  • Listen to music and play with musical toys.

  • Watch colourful mobiles, especially ones with colour contrasts (like black and white).

  • Play with rattles and feel different objects, such as cloth books that they can’t rip.

  • Let your baby lie on the floor with their nappy off, so they can kick.

  • Place toys on both sides of your baby to encourage them to turn to both sides.

Tummy time

It’s good to let your baby lie on the floor on their tummy at least once a day. It strengthens their neck and back muscles and they become used to being on their tummy. It also helps to reduce or prevent flattening to the back of your baby’s head. Do it when they’re settled and awake, and stay with them. If they go to sleep, put them to bed on their back.

Active movement (Nekeneke ai)

Movement helps your baby to develop a sense of balance, learn about their body and develop strong back and tummy muscles.

Some activities that encourage active movement are letting your baby:

  • Have time stretching and kicking on the floor (make sure the floor is safe and keep small items and hot drinks out of reach)

  • Touch different things with their hands and feet (a feather or a ball are good to use for this)

  • Lie on the floor on their tummy when awake (when asleep, your baby is safest on their back).

  • Spin around slowly in both directions with your baby in your arms

  • Hold your baby and slowly move them up and down and around to music

  • Rock forwards and backwards gently with your baby in your arms

  • Lie your baby on their back and lift their legs, one at a time.

An interesting link from Plunket
Here’s something I read on the Plunket website I thought you might find interesting.
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