If you’re holding a newborn (or have enjoyed one in the past, like I have) you will know that newborn babies don’t really require much stimulation – they love a cuddle, a chat and maybe a song, but otherwise life for them is one long cycle of feed, sleep and change clothes. However, there is much to be said for some external stimulation – for both mum and bub. Here are eight things to do with your newborn, when you feel ready:
1. Make friends with other new mums.
Strike a like-minded mother’s group and you have a sisterhood for life (sorry dads – if anyone has any tips for new dads please let me know!). No one else will delight in hearing your war stories quite like another new mum who has similar tales to share.
2. Go for a walk.
When babies are awake (and not feeding) they love to gaze and quietly process all the new stimuli they’re bombarded with. Babies love the contrast of shadows and so a walk through a leafy park is sure to give them plenty to check out; with the added bonus that you get some exercise, fresh air and out of the house too. (And it’s free.)
3. Sign up for baby gym.
GymbaROO (BabyROO) is a great starting point if you’re not really sure what to expect in regards to your baby’s development and how to stimulate them. BabyROO classes are really informative and consist of group exercises integrating song and dance as well as free time to explore play equipment. When my eldest was about two months old we started GymbaROO and every week we learn a fact about our babies development and some exercises to stimulate and encourage them – I really enjoyed the educational aspect of it (for me it was a bit like a class for new mums as well as a bit of fun for the babies) but appreciate that this isn’t for everyone.
4. Check out your local cinema for Cry Baby sessions.
Don’t wait until your baby is older – these sessions work best while your bub is brand new and likely to sleep through noise and/or take 40 minutes to feed! Cry Baby sessions have the lights dimmed (not completely blacked out) so that you can still find your baby in the dark and, as the name suggests, if your bub cries no one is going to be put out! I wished that I had done more of these sessions when my first child was born – second time around with baby and toddler just seemed more fraught with anxiety on my part (as I imagined my two year old would be too busy clambering everywhere for me to enjoy a feature film – at that age she could only sit still for about 15 minutes, these days (now she’s eight) she’d watch grass grow if it was on a screen).
An exercise class for mums and bubs is a great way to get active with your little one along for the ride. And don’t just limit yourself to the mummy exercise classes – regular personal trainers and pilates studios (for example) are often open to children of all ages being incorporated into their classes – just call around and ask (as it’s often not publicised).
6. Visit the library.
Local libraries often run a weekly story time including stories, nursery rhymes and songs (which is quite handy if your nursery rhyme repertoire is a bit rusty!). Talk to your librarian about other services for new parents and check the notice boards – this is where local community groups often publicise their activities.
7. Enrol in a baby music classes
Babies have a strong link to music: they have been listening to your playlist long before they were born – and so with this in mind familiar music can be a great way to sooth your baby, and (according to University of Western Sydney’s Baby Lab) can contribute to the happiness of both parent and child. Music classes can be a way to relearn all those baby songs (which possibly haven’t been on your playlist for a long time) and as your baby gets older they will love playing the instruments, clapping and singing. (Check our review of Baby Love Music Fun)
8. Sign up to BellaBaby
Like to try new things? Like to get things in the mail? Love to be spoilt and surprised? BellaBaby is the baby version of BellaBox (a subscription based product trial service). Every month a new box of goodies arrives – with a selection of eight things for mum and bub. Some items are sample size (handy for the nappy bag) and some are full sized – and brands included are either boutique or cult, so you’re guaranteed to be a trend leader.