You have a lot of jobs as a new father - changing poopy diapers, keeping mom happy, and making sure your family is provided for. Isn’t it cool that one of your most important jobs as a dad is to play with your baby?
Moms are often responsible for a lot of the work when your kid is first born. This is why we are thrilled to tell you that you can help lighten her load JUST BY PLAYING! It doesn’t get better than that.
Playing, your baby’s main job, teaches him how to laugh and take risks. It develops motor skills and speeds the development of his brain and nervous system. Very serious stuff.
Research has found that you’re destined to become your baby’s primary playmate. Even though kids tend to be more attached to Mom in the beginning, two-thirds of six-month-old babies choose Dad when it comes to playtime (the other one-third were probably just hungry lol).
When playing with your baby there are a few things you have to keep in mind:
- Short field of vision - For the first couple of weeks, a baby’s vision is fuzzy and he'll fixate on things that are about a foot from his eyes. Place a picture or toy with highly contrasting colors in his line of sight to catch his attention, and then move it back and forth slowly so he can track it.
- Your Face - He’ll focus on your face and recognizes it at about one month. While he likes mom’s face too, your whiskers make yours more interesting. For some reason, at around six months, babies like to grab dad’s nose and try to pull it off.
- Stop When He’s Had Enough - He may be finished before you are, and it’s important to recognize the signs before you irritate him. If he turns his face away, arches his back, or looks pissed off when you expect him to be having fun, assume he’s worn out or overstimulated and it’s time to quit.
Now that we have the ground rules, let’s play!
- Monkey See, Monkey Do - He might mimic you sticking your tongue out, even as a newborn. As he grows, he may mimic your other facial expressions and sounds, too. Start early: hold him face-to-face, smile, open your mouth and slowly stick out your tongue. Repeat.
- Airplane - Hold your baby firmly with both hands—one under his butt and the other cupped on the back of his head. Lift him up in the air and let him “fly” around slowly and gently. Always firmly support his head.
- Baby Gym - With your baby on his back, pull his legs up to you and then side to side. Up, out, down, back, reverse. Do the same with his arms. Wouldn’t it be great if that’s all it took for you to get YOUR workout in??
- Mattress Trampoline - Lay your baby on his back on the bed. Push down on the mattress so that he bounces a little bit. Go slowly and gently so he enjoys it and doesn’t get upset. Remember, he’s still learning to trust you, so don’t ramp up the action to a level your kid isn’t yet comfortable with.
- Sit On Your Chest - Lie down on your back with your baby sitting on your chest facing you. Let him explore your face. Enjoy his intense concentration as he checks everything out. Be careful because he may start hitting you in the face and grabbing your nose.
Happy Playing, Dad!!