Advice on games to play with your newborn baby

Parenting expert, author and health visitor Sarah Beeson MBE shares her top newborn baby games with Louisa Pritchard in this month’s Mother & Baby Magazine.

Newborn games

Name that tune-A baby often calms down to the music you played or sang while you were pregnant. See if she recognises the the tunes while you gently sway her in your arms.

Ring, ring, is that baby calling?- With your baby lying on her playmat, put her foot to your ear and pretend it’s a telephone. Have a chat with her on the ‘phone’ and lightly blow raspberries on the soles of her feet. This helps speech development . Plus, the gentle movement can also help alleviate trapped wind.

Who’s got the hat?- This is a lovely way to introduce your baby to visitors. Take one of the baby’s hats and put them on her head. Sing: “[Baby’s name] got the hat, now what do we think of that? She passes the hat to Mummy now Mummy’s got the hat.’ Put the hat on your head and repeat the song using your name and the name of a visitor. Pass the hat around the room and clap your hands in time to the song. Your little one will join in someday.

Follow the light- In a darkened room, shine a not-too-bright torch on the ceiling. Move the spot of light around and make up a story including the objects the light lands on. Your baby will enjoy following the light with her eyes and will learn about her surroundings.

Nude tummy time- Every now and then, try tummy time your baby nappy-free on a washable blanket with some toys in front of her. She’ll love the freedom.

What games do you like to play with your LO? Let us know which of these games they enjoy? Tweet @NewArrivalBook or Facebook us.

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Sarah Beeson MBE is a health visitor and author. Her new parenting book Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby is published by HarperCollins (4 June 2015). You can read all about her nurse training in her memoir The New Arrival: the heartwarming true story of a trainee nurse in 1970s London. 

#AskSarah Trusting your instincts on poorly toddlers, reading everyday and sharing

This week’s #AskSarah question is from @MrsSardines who as well as being mum to a 19 month little boy writes Mummy Always Knows Best a blog with musings from a new(ish) Mum on the things she’s learnt, great ideas and bargains that all help make life a little bit easier to treat yourself and your loved ones.

@MrsSardines@MrsSardines and her LO #babysnaps

1. Should I keep my sick child home?

@MrsSardines first question was; “I tend to keep my child away from other young children if he is poorly. Am I doing the right thing? It is very hard to maintain routines when little ones are poorly. Is it OK to just go with whatever soothes the child; e.g. co-sleeping or should one maintain routine?”

When your LO is poorly with an infectious illness keeping him home prevents it spreading and also gives him the TLC he needs. It’s the responsible thing to do.

Plenty of cuddles, lots of fluids and little meals if he can manage them and any prescribed medication will have him feeling right as rain in no-time. He needs time to rest and recover and you’re saving another mum from the stress, worry and balancing act of having a poorly child. Your intuition is spot-on – keep on following it.

Routines tend to shift a little all the time. You may find you develop a sick day routine that keeps things manageable for him and for you. Once he’s better you can get back on track with what your days and nights are usually like – there’s no harm in doing what feels right on the day.

The under-fives tend to get a new infection every 4-6 weeks and sometimes it can feel like illnesses come one on top of the other, which can be very hard on everyone but it is normal. If he ever has a high temperature or you’re concerned that he’s not getting better, then it’s always a good idea to get him checked by your GP.

The best medicine of all is Mummy’s love, and care and it sounds like he’s getting plenty of that.


2. Should I worry about using phonics when teaching my toddler to talk?

@MrsSardines second question was; “What can I do to encourage my child to talk? Is he too young to worry about phonics or is introducing earlier worthwhile (e.g. sounding out words when naming things) so he gets used to them earlier on?”

Reading to your child everyday is the best way to help with language development, if there’s one thing any parent can do to encourage talking, it is telling stories.

Your LO’s speech and language will come naturally when he is ready. Phonics and flashcards won’t give him an advantage over other children; he’ll talk in his own good time.

The most supportive thing you can do is to just chat to him. A trip to the library or local bookshop is lovely if you can make it part of your day every now and then, but simply talking about the everyday things you do together and the world around you is what he needs. It’s enjoying the experience of language that has the biggest impact, just go with what feels right in the moment.


3. Should I encourage my toddler to stand up for himself?

@MrsSardines last question; “My child has a very gentle nature, which means he ends getting pushed around. It doesn’t bother him and so he walks away, giving up easily. Does this mean he will be picked on when he is older? Am I OK letting his natural easygoingness carry on, or should I encourage him to stand up for himself a bit more?”

It’s natural not to want to share, it’s something we learn in order to get along with others. Your LO’s gentle nature is a credit to your parenting. It doesn’t mean he won’t be able to stand up for himself, he’ll probably have bucket-loads of quiet confidence.

Your LO can walk away because he is getting his emotional needs as well as his practical needs met, and doesn’t feel he has to fight his corner and offload some anger during playtime. Carry on and let him play; he’s a wise baby, trust in him and you.


Final thoughts

Three great questions there and at the heart of them is following your instincts versus doing what you think maybe you ought to be doing. It sounds like @MrsSardines has a really lovely relationship with her LO and a strong sense of what makes them both happy. It’s natural to question whether you are doing the right thing – that’s why today’s parents are the best there has ever been.

What did you think of this week’s #AskSarah? Did you like it? Yes, then please do share it with your friends and subscribe for updates on mums, babies, books and stories and send us a tweet @NewArrivalBook or join us on Facebook.

If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask then go to the #AskSarah page and drop us a line. Trust yourself and enjoy your baby, you are the expert on your own child.

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Ask Sarah


Over four decades as a nurse and a health visitor Sarah Beeson’s career has been shaped by the needs of children. Since her earliest days on the wards of Hackney Hospital she has stood up for her patients as shown in The New Arrival her heartwarming true story of training to be a nurse in 1970s London.

Her expertise and innovation have been recognised with the MBE from the Queen for services to children and families, and her health prevention work received the Queen’s Nursing Institute Award but she’s happiest listening to mums talking about their baby.

Sarah firmly believes that this generation of parents is the best there has ever been. Her new parenting book Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby is the culmination of a life time’s experience watching, listening and being part of thousands of families’ journeys from birth to their Little One’s first birthday and will be published by HarperCollins in Spring 2015.

Sarah second memoir about being a newly qualified health visiting in rural Kent in 1970s She’s Arrived! will be published by HarperCollins in March 2016.