It’s so easy to forget to take time to nurture my 2-month old baby, since I’m often distracted by my older children, household responsibilities, and so forth. But although she may not be as vocal about her desire to interact, it’s important that I make time for infant play as well.
But what does one do to play with an infant?
I am not a doctor or a child development specialist, but here are some infant play ideas that I have noticed, as a mother, that my two-month old delights in.
My daughter Kitty spent the first two weeks asleep, crying, or eating. I rarely saw her eyes. Now that she is keeping her eyes open, it has become clear that she is learning to focus on items directly in front of her. She loves friendly faces. Even when I’m busy with other kids, I try to make sure and make eye contact and “chat” with her when I pick her up. She’s begun gurgling, cooing, and blowing bubbles in response.
One infant game that has become fun is imitation. I stick out my tongue slowly a few times. I ask if she can copy me. When she does, I praise her. Then I make a silly face (or an open mouth, etc.) and repeat. Although she is not too good at copying me, she sure loves to try and even giggles and smiles as she watches me and makes the attempt.
To try: Change facial expressions as I watch my infant. Does she imitate me?
Music and Voices
Not every infant is as fascinated with music as this little one is. I notice already that Kitty calms when music is played and even imitates the singing mouths she watches during church services. We play classical, religious, and child-friendly songs via Spotify on a tablet in her room throughout the day and night, and she relaxes and focuses on the music, even at her young age.
To correlate, I’d say that human voices are like music to a young baby. This is probably why babies respond to baby talk. My son Raisin’s favorite game with his baby sister right now is “Hi and Low.” When he comes into her room in the morning, he starts a conversation with her. “Hi Hi Hi!” he says in a high pitched voice. When she responds with a sound, Raisin then says “Low Low Low!” in a low voice. She giggles at this game, and both he and she are delighted to have interaction (even though he is still not allowed to take her out of the crib.)
I don’t recall my other children being quite so engaged so young, but I do know they too enjoyed hearing pleasant music and happy voices.
To try: Vary my pitch as I talk to my infant. Does she babble more?
It’s no secret that babies love high contrast items. Black and white are especially important for my infant right now. She loves our crib mobile and the smaller mobile over the changing table. She stares and stares at them. She began to focus on the smaller one sooner, probably because it is closer to her eyes. (The reviews on Amazon say similar things about the mobiles I have. These are fantastic mobiles!)
My preschool-aged daughter Strawberry was looking forward to playing with her baby sister. I imagine it has been a bit disappointing since Kitty has not done much for the past few weeks. But now she is becoming fun! My daughter delights as she holds our multi-colored elephant over the baby and sways it back and forth. Now Kitty’s eyes will follow the toy!
To try: Find high contrast images, toys, and books for my infant’s stimulation. See the free printables at parents.com.
One week, she did not care when she saw the reflection in the mirror. The next week she stared as she reached out to the mirror. As in her delight with faces, seeing a baby and herself is a new part of her experience, as obviously everything is new to her still! We always stop and say “hello” to the baby after bath time and as we walk by the mirror. There is pure delight in those baby eyes.
To try: Put my infant on a mirror for tummy time.
My daughter still does not know how to move her body on command. Although I cannot read her thoughts, I can only imagine that the movements she feels (who just scratched me in the eye?!) are frustrating and uncomfortable some times. I see my job as helping her enjoy movements as she prepares to learn better control. Pat-a-cake begins now, even though she sometimes gives me confused looks at the moment. Soon, she’ll learn to clap her own hands and roll them herself. I’m just helping her enjoy the movement before she can do it herself.
One thing we do frequently is “riding a bicycle.” For this, I hold her feet with her back resting on my legs and pump her legs forward and backwards. The bonuses are that it helps work out the gas in her system, but it also is good exercise!
To try: Massage and move my infant’s legs and arms.
One thing has become apparent with the recent arrival of my third child: I love her just as dearly as my other two, but I’m much busier with homeschooling and other childcare tasks, so the interaction I have with her is often distracted due to need to parent the other children. Keeping her need for infant play in mind has helped me refocus on her during our alone times.
Playing with my infant does not take long. I’m so grateful for the delight that comes from simple interaction and learning time with me.