Safety In: Playtime with Baby
As we close the month of National Baby Safety Month, our doulas at Vegas Family Doulas appreciate all of the families that have entrusted our hearts and hands to provide comfort and compassion to their families. In the last week of September, we dive into safety while at play! Playtime is a fun addition to the days as newborn turns into infant turns into baby turns into toddler. What are some ways to entertain a baby throughout the first year? We are SO glad you asked!
Playtime at 0-3 Months
When it comes to playtime in the early weeks of the baby’s life, keep it safe and keep it simple. As the newborn is getting acclimated to a world outside of the womb, the world around them is boisterous and colorful enough. Singing a lullaby, humming a tune, playing that Pandora playlist is a form of interaction that proves to be soothing to the ears. Tummy time helps to strengthen the neck muscles, and can be achieved using activity mats or a blanket most safely on the floor. Baby can see a distance of up to 12 inches from their face. A favorite activity for this age is walking around the environment and sharing what’s around. For example, walking around the home holding a baby, while looking at photos or decorations hung on the walls. As a baby begins to recognize faces don’t be surprised if a smile spreads across the face, especially as a photo becomes more and more familiar. If there’s a mirror hung on the wall, it’s fun to play “who’s that baby in the mirror”, and watch the baby’s face explore their own reflection. Black and white images give a wonderful contrast for eye adjustment and focus activities.
If heading outdoors, both a stroller or baby carrier are wonderful and safe ways to explore the community. Infants younger than 6 months should not be placed in strollers without an infant car seat unless it’s a flat lying surface such as a pram or bassinet style. If babywearing, keep the baby in newborn position until they are able to hold their heads up unassisted.
Playtime at 3-6 Months
During this stage, babies will “find their feet”, start to roll, sit, kick, flail arms, etc. Basically lots and lots of new ways to entertain themselves and their caregivers! Activity mats are a perfect tool to breakout and utilize. The colors and sounds of activity mats are fun learning tools for the newly developing brainwaves. Bouncer seats are safely used best when the baby is able to hold head up unassisted and sit up. Check to make sure that the baby’s toes and balls of feet are able to touch the base of the bouncer or activity seat. Doing so releases the strain of the baby’s back and tension from around the leg holes. Due to safety and precautions, all seats and activity mats should be placed on a flat firm surface. Dancing around, singing and signing, reading books, and taking walks are all free and safe ways to entertain babies.
If heading outdoors, grab that stroller or baby carrier! Babies may be able to be placed in a stroller without a carrier upon examination of developmental and stroller fit. Be sure to adjust the seating position and harness to fit the baby’s safest needs. When baby wearing, the baby can be turned facing forward (carrier allowance) and enjoy the sights and sounds first hand.
Playtime at 6-9 Months
Crawling and cruising gives babies a new perspective in the world around them. As the baby learns their footing, keep a keen eye. Allow the baby to independently explore, and close enough to catch an unsafe incident before it occurs. Baby proofing the home with outlet covers keeps little fingers and objects from being inserted into electrical outlets. Door stoppers can help prevent pinched fingers from door jambs. Cabinet locks help keep curious minds from objects that could cause a catastrophe. With that in mind, decide on a special cabinet or drawer that the baby can call their own. Stock it with toys or plastics that will entice the baby’s curious mind, and also keep them safe.
Bath play is a hoot at this age. Filling the bath water enough to cover the baby’s hips is all that’s needed. Also keep in mind that it only takes an inch of water for a drowning to occur, therefore always keep an eye and hand on bathing babe. Splish splashing and giggles will bring fun times to bath time. Keep bottles up and out of reach. Expensive toys not required! Grab a plastic cup, a spoon, or any watersafe baby friendly item to toss in the bath with baby to clink on the tub or pour in and out of. Offer a clean extra washcloth for the baby to “wash the body themselves”, and know that this washcloth will most likely end up being sucked on. Tha okay! This is not the same washcloth that was used to clean the baby.
Playtime at 9-12 Months
Play group anyone? Story times, indoor play places, and park play dates are a fun way to change up the atmosphere and explore new ventures with your crawling, cruising, climbing baby. Using a lotion or sunscreen 50SPF or clothing in long sleeves protects a baby’s precious skin from UV rays when out and about. Making new friends begins early. Seeing different faces and expressions outside of the immediate family often helps to fend off separation anxieties that occur around 9 months. As the baby explores the new spaces, keeping an eye out for objects that pose choking, shocking, falling and other hazards. Accidents can occur in the blink of an unmatched eye. No shoes needed, allow the baby to climb barefooted to get a good grip on surfaces. If walking about, gripped socks protect the fee while providing support.
Toys that are smaller than the baby’s hands are not recommended, as babies like to explore with their mouths. Fisher Price, Melissa and Doug, and Playskool have a wonderful array of age appropriate toys.
Some things to remember when indulging in play with a little one, is that imagination is everything! Be creative. Pull out that inner child. Simple is fun and often free! It doesn’t take much to fill the room with smiles and laughs galore from a child. We at VFD hope that you have enjoyed this safety series, and remember at Vegas Family Doulas, we’re Always A Safe Bet! Our doulas are looking forward to continuing to support our communities safely as we navigate through 2020.