Congratulations mum! You have now completed the first two months with your newborn baby and you have hopefully recovered from all those post-labour aches, pains and scars. You now have some-what of a good feeding routine and your baby has adjusted to either formula, breast milk or both.
Hopefully, sleepless nights have now reduced and your 3-month-old baby is sleeping for longer periods at night. Now comes another challenge. Your baby is awake for longer durations in the day and you are running out of ideas on how to engage and entertain your baby.
Here is a great list of activities to do with your baby when they are awake. These activities are all proven to help your baby’s development and are all free. You do NOT need any extra equipment. The following activities will engage your child’s attention and concentration and can all be a part of your daily routine with your newborn baby.
1. Talk to your baby
Your 3-month-old baby LOVES to hear the sound of your voice. The best activity you can do is go close to your baby whilst maintaining eye contact and speaking to your baby.
Try to avoid babbling and cooing to your baby. It is very important that you speak to your baby in simple and clear sentences. This is the best way for babies to pick up on communication and language. Talk to them about anything and everything. Let them know what you are doing whilst doing it.
‘Mummy’s going to change your nappy/diaper now then give you some milk’
2. Tummy Time
This is the activity that tends to be recommended the most for 3-month-olds.
Tummy time is when you place your baby on their tummy in a safe way, on a safe place. Tummy time is usually done on a thin blanket or a matt on the floor.
You carefully roll your baby on their tummy whilst providing lots of support for their back, neck and head.
Tummy time benefits;
- Promotes motor skills
- Helps babies develop strong shoulder and neck muscles
- Prevents flat spots on the back of the baby’s head
- Helps baby build necessary skills for crawling, sitting, rolling and walking which are all important skills for developing babies
- Great way to support your the development of the vestibular system
Tummy time can be done any time from birth onwards and should be done for short periods of time. Start off doing a few seconds then gradually start increasing the duration of tummy time. Also, remember to never leave your baby unattended whilst doing tummy time as this can be a risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
All babies LOVE peekaboo. My 12-month-old still enjoys playing peekaboo. It is probably one of the only games that she does not get sick of. The great thing about peekaboo is that it also;
- Encourages social development
- Strengthens and supports visual tracking
- Helps reinforce the idea of object-permeance (even though your child cannot see something, it still exists)
- Helps build gross motor skills
- Great for hand-eye coordination as babies begin to copy you.
4. Explore the house
One of the biggest myths mums are told is that they shouldn’t carry their baby as the baby will get used to it. Babies love being held up and there is nothing wrong with walking around with them in the house and garden from time to time. This is a great time for you to bond as you look behind curtains and open cupboard doors with them.
It is important that babies have a fresh face of scenery now and again. Just like adults, babies get bored of the same views and they are very curious about their environment so having them explore the house with you is a fun activity for them
5. Mirror Mirror
Your 3-month-old looking at a simple mirror helps their eyes to focus and engage in how they look and what their face can do.
By having your baby look at a mirror they begin to understand facial expressions and how we look different from one another. Make sure you describe what your baby can see in front of them. Say ‘Look, that’s mummy’s nose’, ‘look at your face and your eyes.’
You will be surprised at how just looking in front of a mirror can be so much fun for a 3-month-old baby.
6. Sing your baby’s favourite songs (Nursery rhymes/nasheeds/lullabies)
Singing is a great way to calm your baby. Singing anything from nursery rhymes, nasheeds or lullabies in your native language always relaxes and soothes babies.
Singing to babies helps improve their emotional development. My babies are the only people in the world that enjoy my singing. What sounds so awful to other people, surprisingly enough, keeps them calms and soothes them.
7. Bath Time
A common misconception is that bath time needs to happen before bedtime. Bath time can happen at any time of the day and will still ensure that your baby is relaxed and comforted. Bath time also promotes independence and a unique play experience with the water.
8. Playing with Household Objects
Go on a scavenger hunt around the house and grab some bits and pieces that are safe for your baby to play with. So many babies prefer household items to expensive, extravagant toys. Give your baby these household objects to feel and explore. This will help your child improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
9. Play with Child’s Favourite Toy
If your child has a favourite toy then engaging your baby with this toy will be a fantastic way to spend time with them.
Sometimes parents make the mistake of piling toys in front of a baby which can sometimes make it overwhelming for babies and they may not be too interested in any of them. The best way to have your child interested in toys is to give them one toy at a time and slowly rotate them. In this way, each toy is always fun, new and exciting for them.
Watching bubbles is a sensory activity that babies can do from birth. Babies learn to focus and concentrate on the movements of the bubbles. Your baby will then begin to engage by trying to touch or pop the bubbles. This will enhance their hand-eye coordination.
Your baby may or may not laugh at this age when you tickle them so the goal of tickling at this stage shouldn’t be for the baby to laugh out loud. However, making silly noises and tickling your baby gently can help you bond with your baby. This playful experience can make your baby excited and really happy.
12. Playing with Different Textures
Find items around the house with different textures and stimulate your child’s sense of touch as they grasp and feel them. This can also help develop their understanding of the world. They will begin to understand that some objects are smooth whilst others are rough. Some are wet and some are dry whilst some objects are light and some are heavy.
You can use items such as shiny foil, cardboard, some soft fabric or even plastic.
13. Reading Books
A baby is never too young to reap the rewards of reading a good book. Reading books helps boost your baby’s brainpower whilst bonding with their parents. Research shows that babies that were read to as newborns often have more vocabulary than kids who were not read to. Read the full article here.
Young children love to dance and at this stage, you can pick your child and have them dance around with you. Holding baby close to you whilst dancing around the room also helps the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a happy hormone which is emitted into the bloodstream.
15. Spending time Outside
One of my favourite activities to do with babies is simply taking them outside even if it is just for a quick walk around the block. When outside not only do babies soak in the fresh air, but their mind is being actively stimulated by different senses. Outdoors bring new sensations that are crucial to cognitive development. Taking your child outside is a great way to help your child reach developmental milestones.
Cuddling is a much-needed bonding activity between you and your baby. Cuddling helps build a special and secure attachment to you. These sort of bonding sessions when you are just cuddling your baby helps to support your child with emotional intelligence, expression of empathy and social interactions.
14. Introducing Baby to New Faces and Names
This can either be done by showing pictures of loved ones and relatives. Show baby pictures and teach them their names. Babies will become more familiar with family and friends much quicker.
15. Baby Aerobics
A great way to hold your baby’s attention and build their focus is baby aerobics. Try gentle movements of the baby’s legs and arms in different directions. These small and simple exercises help build muscle, strengthen balance and increase muscle tone.
If you have some flashcards lying around at home, they could be a great tool to help babies with understanding of the world and communication. Visuals like flashcards promote early childhood learning.
Even if you do not have flashcards at home, there are plenty online that are free to download and free to print out.
17. Baby Massage
Baby massages are a great way for babies to de-stress and relax. Baby and new parents can use this opportunity to bond together. Skin stimulation enhances brain-body communication. Gently massaging your baby motivates the development of flexibility and coordination. It also allows them to feel calmer and happier and the best thing is babies tend to sleep much better after having a baby massage. There are many videos online that show you how you can successfully give your baby a massage.
18. Grabbing Objects
Placing different things in front of your 3-month-old baby whilst encouraging them to reach out and grab it strongly helps improve cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. At three months old something as simple as grabbing a ball can be a very fun activity for babies.
19. Place Baby in Different Positions
By the third month, the baby can benefit from gentle exercise. gently moving them around helps build arm, neck and muscle strength. You can support them and have them sit upright or even hold them up in such a way that they seem like standing. Make sure your baby’s neck, head and back are always supported.
20. Follow Your Voice
A really easy activity that requires no prep time and is as simple as peekaboo, but this time you are getting up and walking around the room whilst trying to maintain attention from your baby. Your baby will often look around for you when they hear your voice and this will encourage focus as well as build neck muscles when your baby turns their head to look at you.
21. Tracking objects with their eyes
Babies are curious creatures and at this early age are fascinated by objects all around them. A great daily activity for them when they are awake is to show them an object and slowly moved that object around. I use my fingers and slowly move them up and down and left to right.
22. Tell stories
This is different to children reading from a book. All children love stories and 3-month-old babies are no different. Babies love hearing your voice and vocal expressions by listening to you tell stories is a good way to help baby build language skills. Try to be as animated as possible. Using different sounds, voices and facial expressions can help draw your baby’s attention for much longer.
23. Sensory play
Sensory play can be so vast. Even bringing items for your baby to smell, touch and taste can be classed as a sensory activity
All forms of sensory play helps reduce developmental delay in babies and helps with problem-solving and social interactions
24. Copy Baby/Intensive Interaction
Intensive interaction is a play-based approach to helping children develop early, pre-speech communication and interaction skills, like eye contact, facial expressions, the ability to copy sounds, and shared attention. This can be done by you copying the actions of your baby. Soo babbling when your baby babbles. Smiling when your baby smiles. This experience invites you to your baby’s world and helps children with their communication skills.
Though not recommended for newborns. Stretching your baby slowly and gently can be really comforting for a baby. Sometimes your baby is in the same position for hours and a little stretching time with mommy and daddy can prove to really help improve baby’s vestibular system.
26. Sticking out Your Tongue
This may sound like a silly activity but just like peekaboo babies love a good game of ‘sticking out their tongue’. At first, your baby may just be a little confused but will go on to enjoy it and try to copy you too. The act of you sticking out your tongue helps your baby understand object-permanence (the idea that you may not be able to see something but it is still there.) You will then begin to notice your baby copy you too and before you know it you have a little 3-month-old that loves sticking out their tongue!
27. Blowing Raspberries
Blowing raspberries is probably one of the first actions that your baby will copy of you and do themselves. Babies love the sensory sensation of blowing raspberries. It’s silly and fun and babies can actually copy the action too which makes it much more worthwhile for them.
28. Imaginative Play
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge advocate for imaginative play.
This is one of the best activities that help children with speech delay. Imaginative play is one of the best ways to help children with communication. It can benefit children of any age group. Children build creative skills and gain opportunities to build on language and communication skills with imaginative play. For more on the importance of imaginative play for speech delay, check out my article here.
29. Teach Baby Different Language
If you are bi-lingual or have a household where more than one language is spoken, it may be a great idea to start introducing your baby to another language. There are many advantages of being bi-lingual, Studies show that children that are bilingual often go on to achieve higher results in education. Children that are bilingual are also better problem-solvers and thinkers overall. Read the full article here.
30. Play with Older Children
If your baby is lucky enough to have older siblings then take advantage of this and have your newborn spend plenty of time with them. Babies are more creative and imaginative when they have an older brother or sister to play with. Babies also learn faster from elder siblings and usually love spending time with them, especially at this young age.
The above activities are all very quick and easy to do with your child however, sometimes your baby may just not be in the mood or they may become too tired of one activity very quickly so always follow your instincts and follow your baby’s cues. If your baby seems to be getting a bit frustrated or restless, you may want to stop and try again a little later.
Remember you know your baby best.
Something to look forward to in this period is that this is around 3 months is when babies start laughing out loud which is a huge developmental milestone for a growing baby brain.