Play is how babies learn and develop in all areas, including movement. Through play, you can give your baby lots of opportunities to develop movement and motor skills.
About newborn movement and play
Your baby is born ready to experiment with movement. Play is one of the main ways that he learns about what his body can do and develops his movement skills.
Newborn play is simple, but it has an important purpose – through play, your newborn starts to work out how she can interact with her environment. For example, when you hold a toy close to your baby and she reaches for it, your baby discovers that she can move her arms to touch nearby objects.
Play also gives your newborn lots of practice at moving different parts of his body, which helps develop his gross motor skills and muscles.
Give your baby lots of encouragement and praise, and be amazed at what your baby can do. This makes your baby feel loved and valued, and builds the confidence your baby needs to try lots of new movements.
What to expect: newborn movement
In the first eight weeks of life, your newborn baby has little control over her movements. For example, when you stroke your baby’s cheek, your baby turns by reflex to that side to suckle.
As your baby starts to gain more control of his movements, you’ll find that your baby might:
Your baby will be keen to copy your facial expressions almost from birth. If you give your baby a big, bright smile, she’ll try to do the same. Frown – and you’ll see that coming back at you too!
Play ideas to get your newborn moving
Here are some play ideas to get your newborn moving:
Some babies might not like tummy time at first. If your baby is unhappy on her tummy or being on her tummy makes her vomit, try putting your baby on your tummy or chest. This can be more comfortable for your baby and lets her see your face. You can try doing tummy time on a firmer surface later.
Concerns about baby development
Babies develop at their own pace. In general, the key events in baby development happen in a similar order, but the age they happen might vary for each child and even for children in the same family.
But you know your baby best, so if you have concerns about your baby’s development, including his movement and play, it’s a good idea to see your paediatrician or General Practitioner.
This is particularly important if you’ve noticed that your baby:
Cradle cap is the oily, scaly crust that babies sometimes get on their scalps, in their body folds and on their torsos. Although cradle cap looks uncomfortable, it doesn’t usually bother your baby.