Autumn has well and truly arrived and the opportunities for lolling around on a blanket in the park or enjoying a cappuccino beside the Thames are becoming a distant memory. With winter around the corner, the time spent outdoors with a newbie becomes less appealing and cabin fever looms.
Many of my first-time mums ask me about how and when to start getting out to some fun classes to entertain their new babies. My answer is usually it’s better to wait until baby is about 6 weeks old or more. Whilst a newborn baby will enjoy interacting with you for short periods at home, they may find a room full of new faces/music rather overwhelming until they are more able to cope.
I am acutely aware that it can seem frustrating to be at home for weeks with a new baby, but you can provide your own entertainment by taking them for a nice walk in the buggy with the hood down during their awake time and create your own gentle colourful games at home for a while.
Babies love to look around at the lovely autumnal colours of the trees above them, the swaying branches on a blustery day or simply the bright colours of items on the shelves in toy shops or department stores. At home, you can tie a couple of brightly coloured ribbons on a length of bamboo, or make some glittery pom-poms (fancy dress shops are great for this kind of thing) and leap around the room like an Olympic Event Cheerleader as baby gives you marks out of ten. Strictly Come Dancing, eat your heart out! Use empty containers and fill them with objects (like those pictured above) such as little bells, pom-poms, pasta and buttons and show them to your baby as they sit in their bouncy chair or snuggle up beside them on the bed.
Once your babies reaches 6 weeks, they will be more receptive to new sensations, sights and smells. They will have thundered through their 2nd growth spurt and over the next week or two you may see they are starting to “map” your face when gazing at you, their inquisitive little eyes flicking from your eyebrows to your nose, your mouth to your eyes and back again. If you start to pull faces, poke out your tongue or make cooing noises, you may start to notice your baby trying to copy you. It is an enchanting time, and the very beginnings of a basic form of communication.
As newborn babies cannot really cope with being awake and happy for more than about 1.5-2 hours at a stretch, it can seem daunting to try to calculate how to get to a class on time. This is partly why I encourage mums to wait a while until the baby can feed well in a shorter time and cope with staying awake for 30-45 minutes at a stretch.
Once your babies are more comfortable in their own surroundings and showing a regular interest in patterns, light & shade, music and interaction with you – then is the time to seek out the baby-friendly activities in your area.
You’d better brush up on the words of “Wheels on the Bus”, “If you’re happy and you know it” and the “Hello Song” before you head out though!