It is such a special time when you welcome a brand new baby into your family! Those first few weeks fly by so quickly. Babies develop and grow so quickly during their first year of life and you might be wondering what you can do to help kick start their development. Setting up a newborn movement area is a quick and easy way to create a visually engaging environment and also help to encourage tummy time from a young age.
Giving your baby freedom of movement is incredibly important during those early months. When your baby spends time on the floor, they’re able to begin exploring their body movements which will eventually lead to them learning how to roll over, sit and crawl.
When our youngest baby was born, I created a simple movement area beside my desk in our play room. This little nook was designed to give her that freedom of movement. Having a special spot for her was very important with an older brother and sister around too!
First, I grabbed a thick, padded play mat for the floor. I chose this kind of mat because I wanted something that was not only soft, but very easy to clean. Next, I attached an acrylic mirror to the wall at her height. Mirrors are an incredible addition to your movement area because your baby will be able to see their own movements as they wriggle about. They also LOVE to see their own reflection which can help make tummy time a little more enjoyable for a reluctant baby.
Next, I made some high contrast images (which you can download here for free) which I put inside some IKEA FISKBO acrylic frames. Research has shown the retina of a newborn baby isn’t fully developed yet and that simple, black and white high contrast images are a great way to help strengthen their eyesight. While adults can distinguish between many shades and colours, a newborn only distinguishes between stark contrasts such as black and white.
Ideally, you should pop the images within 20-30cm from your baby as they won’t be able to focus much further than that. You could also place them on the wall next to your change table for a handy distraction during a nappy change – it’s amazing how long your baby will look at the images!
In the early months, your baby won’t be awake for very long so you should keep their movement area very simple. The space will grow and evolve as your baby grows too! As they get older, you can add low shelves or a basket with some favourite toys and books to explore too. We created a simple rainbow mobile which we hung from the ceiling once Audrey was about 12 weeks old. She loved watching the ribbons dance in the breeze from the window!
Just remember – your baby’s most important play thing during their first 12 months will be you – so spend time talking to them, singing songs or reading books together. The days seem long but the years just fly by so soak up all the baby snuggles now!
Casey is the founder of Little Lifelong Learners where she supports parents to inject more play into their days at home with their little learners! As an early years teacher and parent to three young children herself, she is passionate about using play as a way to slow down and create magical memories to treasure for a lifetime!