How to Interact With a Newborn

Tips for Interacting With Your Tiny Baby

Newborns do a lot of sleeping and eating, so you may wonder what you can really do to interact with your newest family member. She may seem to do very little, but your newborn is learning about the world all the time. Having meaningful interactions with the people around her from birth onward helps her develop, build connections, develop language skills and so much more.

How to Interact With Your Newborn

Mother holding her baby boy

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Each time you look at, hold, rock, talk to or otherwise engage with your baby, you help him learn. He learns about his surroundings, and he learns that your loving interactions mean his needs are met. Hearing your voice and feeling your touch stimulate his senses, which helps him learn about the world around him. Those early interactions also help build a strong bond between you and your baby.

Take as many opportunities as possible to touch, talk to and look at your baby during your time together. If you have chores to do, hold your baby in a carrier or sling designed for his age and size. He feels close to you and feels soothed by your motion. You can also talk to your little one while handling your chores.

Talking to Your Newborn

Hearing your voice is soothing to your newborn. Even if you can't hold her at the time, hearing your voice can calm her and make her feel secure. She also begins to make connections and build the foundation of her language skills from the time she's born, so lots of talking helps her develop in those areas.

It doesn't matter too much what you say at this point. You can narrate what you're doing, talk about your day or ask your baby questions even though she can't answer. Reading books together is a good way to let her hear your voice if you're not sure what to say.

Interacting While Feeding

Mother holding her baby boy

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Feeding time is an ideal opportunity to interact with your newborn. He's usually alert at least at the beginning of the feeding session. Breastfeeding naturally helps you bond with your baby with the closeness and intimacy of the feeding method, but you can bond just as much while bottle feeding.

Some ways to interact while nursing and bottle feeding include:

  • Talk to him in a soothing voice
  • Sing gentle lullabies
  • Rock him
  • Hold him close in your arms
  • Stroke his arms, back or face
  • Look into his eyes
  • Use skin-to-skin contact between yourself and your newborn while nursing.

Helping Your Baby's Development

All positive interactions you have with your baby help her development. Giving her time on her tummy can help her physical development. Supervised tummy time when she's calm and alert helps her develop neck, shoulder and upper body muscles that help her eventually gain head control. Moving objects that she can track visually while she lies on her back can also help with development.

Too much stimulation can cause your baby to cry or fuss. Too much light, sound, action or touch can upset a little one. Each baby is different in the amount of stimulation that becomes too much. Watch your baby's behavior for things like fussing, turning away, arching her back or other signs of distress. When you notice those signs, decrease the stimulation. You might darken the room and turn off background noises. Some babies simply want to be held when overstimulated.

Entertaining Your Baby

For the first month or so, you might notice that your newborn seems sleepy even when he's awake. That quickly changes in those first few weeks, and you start to see him stay alert for longer stretches while awake. Take advantage of those alert times to interact with and entertain your baby.

Alert babies tend to look around the room to take in the surroundings. Hold your baby so he can see your face. Talk, sing, smile and make silly faces at him. Changing your voice pitch can keep him interested. Some babies like movement. Sway or dance gently while holding your baby if he doesn't like to sit still.

You can also pull out some safe baby toys for him to explore once he shows more interest in his surroundings, such as rattles, soft blocks and toys that play music. Baby gyms, swings and bouncer seats are also play options for your little one, but don't leave him sitting in them for too long. He needs the interaction with you to support his development.