The First Three Months
While it is fair to say that baby is unlikely to learn the rules of rugby at this stage, there is loads of play to be done...as much for your good as baby’s sometimes
You will bond with baby if you feel you have a role in his/her life and especially if Mum is breastfeeding or if you do not live with mum and baby, you may feel quite pushed out. Sometimes helpful relatives and friendly neighbours get to hold your baby more than you do, dad, so you may need to reclaim your place to teach your baby to play. Tired mummies can be transformed into real people again by seeing that dad knows what to do with baby and has important things to do with baby which she can trust to him whilst she takes a nap!!!
Babies work from instinct at this stage. In other words, they are driven by urges that revolve around survival. Most of their behaviour is centred around ensuring that they are fed, fed enough, kept clean and get the chance to sleep...oh yes and feed some more.
It is your job to undertake these tasks whilst adding something else to baby....an appreciation of things which do not purely cause survival...touch and voice and movement, nurture which is not functional. In other words early play.
Babies at this age are ready to be sociable. They are trying to tell us adults that they want to play. How? To start with, they are more interested in voice with tones than monotone and they are keen to track objects visually even while their eye sight is still developing.
Some ideas for games
- Copy time: Give your baby things s/he can copy you doing (e.g. stick out your tongue). Give him/her at least 30 seconds to copy as they will process things slowly at this stage.
- Mirroring: copy your baby’s facial expressions but exaggerate them for his/her benefit.
- Touching: make sure your baby regularly knows your touch on his hands, face and whole self as it communicates love and value to her/him and that is the starting place for feeling able to play. Rubbing feet and hands or massaging baby can relax or stimulate him/her.
- Voice: Singing and talking in a sing-song voice to babies is not just instinctive to parents...it is fabulous for your baby’s development. Your baby will know your voice within a week if your contact with her/him is daily for a few hours, but it will take longer if it less consistent.
- Light Seeking: baby can tell the difference between light and dark from birth and are often attracted to light. Walking in and out of different shades or colours of light will be interesting to baby.
Always limit interaction to a few minutes at most as baby tires easily at this age, little and often are best. Remember that his/her line of vision is very limited at birth and increases gradually. In the first twelve weeks you will need to be within 30cm of baby’s eyes to be full in focus.