In the first few weeks with your newborn, navigating your new norm occupies most of the day. It may seem scary but, once you find the groove you will accept and learn to love this new pace. You will start to notice a pattern in your baby’s needs and your little one will set the tone by giving you signs as to what the schedule will be going forward.
You and your baby are taking this time to get to know each other. Your baby is learning who mom is and that you are the dependable ally that first laid eyes on him. It will be your natural instinct as a new mom to pour out nothing but a safe haven energy. He will know just by your touch that he is loved and cared for. Sometimes people forget that our babies are born with nothing and we as their mothers hold the God-given tools to develop them into functioning humans. Your touch allows them to feel, your sounds allows them to understand, your looks allows them to recognize emotion.
Every child is different. Although it’s fun to relate with other moms and chat about our days, not one infant is like the other when it comes to their routine. My day with the heavy sleeper will be far from the norm for the mom that has the baby that sleeps in 15 min. increments and hates to be put down. However, each day at some point with a newborn, there is a fed, clean, happy baby. Do not waste that time. This is the time to build that relationship that will define you as the unbreakable ally.
What can you do with your baby?
- A great starting point is to allow them to show what catches their attention. If they sit in a swing and never take their eyes off the elephant well then go with that. Place her in her happy place and read to her.
- Mimic your newborn. Reciprocity is how babies learn to communicate. If she waves or makes that motion, do it back and add a verbal hello. If she coo’s do it back. This is how she will learn to interact and understand how we talk to each other.
- Have you ever just stared at your little one? Have you watched their facial expressions and just found so much joy in their expressions? Great news, they enjoy yours too. Faces are a great interest to babies. My son loved looking into my eyes, we used to sit and have stare offs helping to create and strengthen our connection. I would talk to him while we did this. Sounds silly I know, but I would take this time to tell him useless fun facts. Although he couldn’t understand me at the time and neither will your baby, your tone is important. Listening to your words will eventually help your baby make a connection between what you say and what you mean.
- Playtime is a must, lay out that quilt grandma made and get on their level. Babies normally can’t see colors for a few months so although bright toys will soon become the favorites, for now grab the toys that have sounds or different feelings, and don’t forget the mirror. This is also a great time to start encouraging “tummy time”. You are not an awful parent for doing this. Not many children enjoy this time but you need to build their neck control. Incorporate small, supervised spurts and when they become tired then stop- this isn’t boot camp either.
- READ! Please Moms I beg you to read. Cuddle that sweet-smelling bobble head in your lap and look at a book. Let them hear you speak with imagination. Point to pictures and laugh when something is meant to be funny. Identify people, places and things.
- Show them your routine. This time can also be used to show your newborn your life before them. “This is where mommy likes to work out and this where your dog sleeps.” Place them in a carrier and do a house chore. “I see cups, plates, and spoons,” as you put the dishes away. Again, this sounds a bit corny but they are learning from your voice. I also recommend singing. No judgement from the LO on this one. Trust me, Mary had a Little Lamb never sounded so good. Nursery rhymes are part of childhood and a great memory that most children have.
All of these listed above are great time fillers and if you have siblings at home I encourage you to bring them into the interactions.
You don’t need to schedule time to play with your baby. The best time to interact is when you engage in the most essential of care-giving routines like feeding, bathing, and diapers. These are just ideas for that little bit of gaps in between the essentials. Maternity leave all the way through the first year is what I like to call trial and error. So many moms put too much pressure on themselves to have it all figured out by the time you take the hospital band off. Just enjoy this time and get to know each other. You have a lifetime to perfect it.