While a walk, picnic, beach outing, and other outdoor activities are often the preferred pastimes of summer, there are some days when it’s just too hot to brave the great outdoors. This is especially true if you have a newborn, and let's face it, just getting out of the house can be s struggle anyway. So what’s a parent to do on those long summer days when getting outside is a no-go? Luckily, the answer is as simple as stimulating the baby’s five senses, and they are easily stimulated at this age. As newborns are still working to process the world around them, engaging in activities that activate their sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, or sound allows them to progress in their development.
Here are some ideas, based on each sense, to fill those hot summer days with bonding and growth.
- Show baby striking black and white images that have pops of red or green.
- Engage in bonding activities where your face is placed close to theirs, giving them the opportunity to examine your features. You can also make various faces, and mimic theirs.
- Read board books with colorful images, stimulating baby’s sense of sight and sound.
- Put a drop of an essential oil on a tissue, then let baby have a sniff. You can let them smell various oils, seeing which one they seem to prefer.
- Allow baby to smell various fruits.
- Cook your favorite aromatic dish when baby is in the kitchen with you, holding fragrant ingredients up for them to smell.
- Look up videos on how to do an infant massage, find a comfortable place in your home to place baby on blanket, then help them relax with simple, infant-specific massage techniques.
- You can stimulate their sense of touch when they’re in your arms by gently stroking their scalp, arms or legs with the back of your fingertips.
- Have a bath together! There are few things as refreshing as engaging in water play on a hot day.
- Take advantage of the warm weather by putting baby in nothing but a diaper and lying with them on different textures, like a quilt, carpet, and towel.
- Set up a “sensation station” in the kitchen where you put out items like playdough, peas, dry pasta, broccoli, ice cubes and other goods that expose baby to a variety of textures. Just be sure to closely supervise so they don’t slip something into their mouth.
- Sing baby a lullaby, or your favorite song.
- Put on your favorite genre of music and dance around while holding them close.
- Read out loud from a book or magazine.
- Expose them to the sounds of different instruments you have around the house, or make your own instruments with some spoons, or chopsticks and a bowl.
- Help your baby learn reciprocity of communication by repeating sounds they make.
- Because newborns can’t consume anything but breastmilk or formula, you can simply engage in the regular feedings you would during the day.
Instead of thinking of those triple digit days with trepidation, consider them a lovely excuse to engage in mellow bonding activities with your baby that help the day keep moving. By tinkering with the ideas above and trying out some of your own, you’ll quickly find that indoor down time during a heat wave can be infused with ample purpose, connection, and fun, helping you and baby end the summer with a deeper bond and fond memories.