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How To Support Newborn Milestones Through Play

Congratulations mom and dad, you made it through the fourth trimester! Gone is that little bundle you nervously brought home, and in his place a strong, smiling, chubby baby graduating this phase with you.

Things are easier now (or are you just smarter?) and you might even have a baby who sleeps through the night giving you some much-needed rest. Just remember that "sleeps through" is most likely 6-9 hour stretches and your baby will still need a lot of sleep during the day despite you both settling into a good nap routine around 3 months.


As you turn the corner at 12 weeks, you will notice some big changes in your baby, but there’s still a lot of major milestones he is going to reach before his half-birthday. Giving him plenty of playtime will not only help him reach his milestones but will also help you strengthen your bond.



Visual milestone: Hand discovery & finger sucking

Why it’s important:

Bringing your hands to your mouth requires your baby to cross his mid-line (the imaginary line dividing the left and right side of your body). This activates the brain to coordinate movement between the left and right side of the body. Using hands and eyes in coordination is a visual development milestone.

How can you support it:

Holding a small rattle or teether will help your baby’s grasping skills, but also give him an interesting sensory experience. If your baby prefers to suck on his fingers, you can place a ring teether around their wrist so he can have something fun to look at each time he brings his hands to his mouth. Thumb and finger sucking should not be cause for concern at this stage, so let your baby enjoy learning about his body.


Movement milestone: Hold their head up close to or at a 90-degree angle

Why it’s important:

Being able to lift their head not only means strong neck, shoulders and back muscles needed for other gross motor milestones (like sitting) but also aids their visual development.

How can you support it:

Make tummy time extra fun by placing high contrast cards, toys and even a mirror in front of them. Your baby is still developing his depth perception, but you will notice that he is much better at focusing on an object.


Social and emotional milestone: Develops social smile and may imitate some facial expressions

Why it’s important:

Reading and imitating the emotions of those around us is the first step towards developing empathy. But getting those chubby little cheeks to smile is just too much fun! 

How can you support it: 

Playing peek-a-boo, singing songs with movement and reading to your baby will give him plenty of exposure to your facial expressions. And don’t worry about being a little extra dramatic! Wide eyes and big smiles will keep your baby interested and engaged.

Your baby doesn’t need to "learn" anything at this age, but meaningful play is giving his brain plenty of new information to process, so just enjoy this magical time with your (soon-to-be not so) little one.



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