Wondering “how do I stimulate my baby between 0-3 months?” I've got you covered with 13 developmental activities for newborns 0-3 months old!
These montessori activities for newborns from 0 to 3 months old promote sensory development, stimulation for active awake time, physical development to help them reach milestones, and of course, bonding with your baby! Plus I share a few tips to modify tummy time if it isn't working for you!
BONUS: These outdoor and indoor activities are great things to do with newborns all the way through the first year and many of them work for the years to come!
- WATCH Montessori Newborn Activities: Baby Activities 0-3 months At Home
- What activities can you do with a newborn 0-3 month old?
- FAQs About Things To Do With Newborns:
- Final thoughts on what to do with a newborn
What activities can you do with a newborn 0-3 month old?
Basically the more you can use your voice around baby the better! This is a great time to practice respectful parenting, which aligns closely with montessori, and start narating things to your baby.
For instance, saying “I'm going to change your diaper now. First I'll lay you down here. Now I'm unbuttoning your onesie. Next I'm taking off your diaper and throwing it in the trash,” and so on go a very long way in both their brain and language development, but also their ability to process sequence of events, build trust, feel safe, and it's a great foundation for the toddler years.
During the toddler years they strongly like a sense of order and to know what is happening, already being in this habit can reduce toddler meltdowns.
Other ways to incorporate talking:
- Tour of the house – explain the rooms, who sleeps where, what they can expect in each place, different items in the house, etc.
- Reading out loud – rhyming books are especially great but you can simply read out loud anything you're reading!
Skin to Skin
Skin to skin time with your newborn is crucial during the first hour after birth if you can, but it's truly helpful the entire fourth trimester and, well forever!
During the first few days it helps regulate baby's temperature. After that, it helps regulate their emotions and can help with milk supply if breastfeeding.
Whenever baby feels fussy, it's one of my favorite tools to use! It also helps bond with baby and releases feel good hormones for the parent!
Other ways to incorporate:
Baby wearing! Baby wearing is a great way to keep baby close and help them regulate. While you may not be totally skin to skin, depending on what you and baby are wearing you can get quite close. Definitely wait until you feel strong enough in your recovery to reduce the risk of pelvic organ prolapse. If you're unsure, speak to your care provider.
Eye contact + Imitation
In those first few weeks baby's haven't fully developed their eye sight yet. They can only see about the distance from the breast to a caregivers face. Lots of eye contact is not only interesting for your baby and builds a more secure relationship, but it also lays a foundation for future conversational skills and helps with their eye development and visual tracking.
You can also imitate your baby, so when they smile, you smile. When they try blowing bubbles or spitting, you try.
Mobiles + High Contrast Imagery
As newborns eyesight develops introducing high contrast imagery is a great next step. Babies only see in black and white really those few couple of months.
Mobiles add an element of visual tracking. I personally recommend the montessori mobiles. Start with the Munari mobile, then graduate to the octahedron, then the gobbi, and eventually the dancer's mobile over the first 3 months.
Relieve gas pains
I'm sure you've heard of bicycle legs to relieve gas pains in a baby, or perhaps even rubbing their belly in a clockwise motion; however neither of these are the best way to relieve gas pains for a baby actually!
Instead, after a feeding gentle hold their hips and rotate them in a figure 8 (see video). This creates space and opening in the side body to help relieve tension and create space for gas to move along and down.
Typically babies are so used to be squished in the womb, that they tense up when dealing with gas pain. That added abdominal pressure can cause more spit up. If your baby is a happy spitter, there is nothing to worry about and you can skip this. However if your baby seems in pain when spitting up, this is a helpful tool.
It's no secret that tummy time is one of the best things to do with newborns through the first year as they build strength and motor skills in their physical development.
If your baby doesn't enjoy tummy time some ways to start doing this could be on your chest, then on a pillow lined up under their armpits, then the floor. You can lay next to your baby so they can stare at your face or lay out high contrast images or a floor mirror to make it more engaging.
Bilateral movements are when opposite sides of the body come together. This helps with brain development. In the newborn phase you can take baby's hand and opposite foot (left hand, right foot) then tap them together at the midline (see video). Not only is this great for boosting their brain development, but it creates a nice side body opening as well.
TIP: Always work WITH baby, never force them! If baby resists, then don't do it! This should be a fun little activity. I usually do 10 on each side then I move onto…
Around 2 or 3 months, after I finish our bilateral exercise, I'll typically do some toe taps where I take their opposite toe and tap it on the opposite side. So left to taps to the right side. This gets them used to the feeling of shifting their weight while rolling. Occasionally your baby may throw their weight into it and roll themselves over!
Side roll to lift
A way to get a vestibular activity (helps to improve balance and coordination critical for future motor skills) in, and also prepare them for rolling, is to side roll them to lift.
Instead of just lifting your baby up off the floor, try rolling them onto their side then lifting them up. You don't need to do this every time, just when you remember!
Babies LOVE to look at themselves! Mirror time kind of encompasses a few activities from earlier too.
Using a floor mirror is a great way to get tummy time in. It helps develop eyesight and visual tracking, as well as early conversational skills (yes even if it's just looking at themselves).
Listen to music
While classical music is often the most recommended music to listen to, both while pregnant and as an activity for newborns, any music your baby enjoys will do! Music presents complex sounds that helps with baby's brain development.
Dancing with your baby is great for baby's development too! Not only do you get the benefits of listening to music, but you also give them loads of vestibular developmental opportunities, an opportunity to bond, giggle, make eye contact and so much more.
Plus, that fourth trimester can feel overwhelming and it's generally a mood booster that everyone needs at some point!
Do not be afraid to take your baby outside! In fact, it's encouraged to take your baby for a walk in the morning so they start learning the difference between day and night. Daylight has also been said to help with better naps!
The fresh outdoors can help calm the nervous system and it provides loads of sensory stimulation for newborns, infants, and kids for the years to come.
Practice safe sun by avoiding the peak hours, staying in the shade, and making sure baby doesn't get too hot.
Spending time outdoors is also a great opportunity for diverse sensory activities for newborns. For instance, letting their feet touch the grass, sand, dirt, or water provides enriching experiences.
FAQs About Things To Do With Newborns:
When to start tummy time?
Generally you'll start tummy time with a newborn right away! This doesn't need to be on the floor or for an extended period of time!
Personally, I like to follow the baby's lead on this. I simply place baby's belly on my chest after a feeding. This gives the baby an opportunity to lift up their head and look at your face. Eventually they'll lift their head to look at your face for longer and longer stretches.
In the coming weeks you can try tummy time on the floor. I'd suggest laying face to face with them at first, then eventually you can give high contrast images. Again, follow baby's cues here and start with just 30 seconds maybe, and eventually let themselves work their way up unless your pediatrician is concerned and recommends a specific regimen.
How do you stimulate a newborn?
Stimulation for newborns generally starts up close and personal. Meaning lots of skin to skin, eye contact while baby is in your arms, and talking.
Spending time outdoors is a great way to stimulate the internal sense of day and night.
As baby reaches 1 month old and eventually 2 months old, you can do more physical stimulation like the bilateral movements, side toll to lift, toe taps, and so on.
What activities can I do with my 1 week old?
Baby activities for a 1 week old look like skin to skin, eye contact, listening to music and dancing if you feel up for it, short walks outside (even just to the mailbox!), talking with them and narrating what is going on.
What should I do with my 2 week old when awake?
Some activities to do with a 2 week old are going for short walk outside as you feel up to it, talking with them or reading to them, lots of skin to skin time and tummy time on your chest, making eye contact, and listening to music or dancing.
Activities for a 2 week old are pretty similar to the things to do with a 1 week old.
Final thoughts on what to do with a newborn
Things to do with newborns generally boil down to keeping them close and teaching them about the world while giving them age appropriate things to look at as their eyesight develops.
With montessori, it's generally just about respecting where baby is at by providing them age appropriate tools to understand the world around them and create a secure attachment that will later play a role in their independence, intelligence, and self esteem.
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