Month 1 Activities
Updated: Sep 26, 2020
As first-time parents, the first month with the newborn was quite overwhelming and exhausting since we were trying to understand the little human right in our arms. From Montessori perspective, the first few weeks of the newborn is called the “symbiotic period” where the baby and the primary caregivers are beginning to establish a mutual relationship with each other. The baby depends on the primary caregiver, especially the mother for nourishment and in turn the mommy benefits by breastfeeding as it helps contracts the uterus and heal her body. While father establishes relationship through physical care such as changing diapers, applying moisturizer, holding, bottle-feeding. Thus, the baby begins to establish secure attachments with the primary caregivers. To further assist the infant adjust to the outside world, here are some of the activities which were part of our daily routine.
Tummy time is recommended to improve baby’s motor skills while strengthening baby’s neck and shoulder muscles. Before placing the baby on the floor for tummy time, both mom and dad can have the baby practice tummy time on them as they lie on bed or a recliner and cuddle the baby. This also facilitates bonding time with the baby.
Our little one (LO) had always been so fussy and gentle bouncing movements with a fully supported neck soothed her big time. By adding some music to the background and swaying or bouncing rhythmically, calmed the baby and was also helpful to get some activity for us. Over time, you’d be surprised to see the baby develop inclination to particular song(s) as you begin to bounce around. LO was so much into the 90s hit Mukkala Mukabla, an accidental find, that it was constantly on loop. 😊
High contrast patterns
Research says that the baby’s eyes can see only high contrast patterns typically in black and white since their retina is not completely developed at birth. To aid the visual development, the baby’s vision is stimulated using light and dark contrast stripes or patterns. They could be in the form of an art on the wall at baby’s eye level or a board book or mobile or plush toys and have them in areas where the baby spends alert time. In our environment, we had a Munari mobile hanging over LO’s activity gym for the first few weeks. We also stuck printouts of high contrast patterns in her diaper changing area which she focuses keenly. Check out the post about prepared environment for newborn which explains the various areas of necessity for the baby.
Rainbow in space
By holding an object, preferably a high contrast one, a few inches within the baby’s focusing range, move it gently to form an arc in space. This facilitates baby’s visual tracking skills.
Language and Mental Development
Music had been part of our routine from day 1. I sang to my LO for the first time at the delivery room when she was placed on me for skin-to-skin bonding right after she was born. While singing to a baby, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a full-length song. I usually sing the first few lines of a song and repeat them, each time singing a little softer than the previous time. This either puts her to sleep or calm her crying at the very least. Check out the playlist of our favorite lullabies and melodies.
The reading nook is one of our most loved places. I started reading to LO around two weeks using simple black and white board books. While she was on my lap, I describe what’s on each page in simple words. Initially I started off with just one word and gradually increased the number of words as we read the same book everyday for an extended period. In fact I describe in both Tamil and English. For example, on showing her a high contrast picture of sun, I say “This is the sun. இது சூரியன் (Idhu sooriyan)”. Here's our kit featuring popular high contrast books.
Social and Emotional Skills
Babies love to look at the human face in a close range more than anything else and enjoy the voices of their parents; talking to them in different tones is a great activity. Studies have shown that babies are able to distinguish between soothing words and angry sounds based on the tone of the voice. LO loves high-pitch tones as we exaggerate the vowel sounds. For example, “You’re soooooo happy today!”.
Diaper talk / song
The changing diaper song is a short and fun rhyme by Jbrary which makes our diaper changing experience a smooth one. I use a combination of singing and talking through the diaper changing process. She recognizes the song instantly and calms down since I have been singing it to her consistently for every diaper change. I also describe what I’m doing in simple words “Looks like you’re wet. I’m going to change your diaper.” Again, we alternate between English and Tamil as we describe.
Some of these activities may even span across months if the baby shows signs of interest. For instance, the diaper changing song is still part of our changing routine at 3 months and it gives LO a sense of familiarity; she knows exactly what the next steps are and doesn’t get fussy.
These are some activities to provide inspiration on how you can engage with your newborn and is not an exhaustive list. In fact it is important to follow your baby as you introduce each activity.
What are your favorite activities for newborn?