When you have your first baby, the inevitable question arises: What are you supposed to do all day? When my son was young, I actually went on YouTube to find what to do with a baby. But now I know that it’s really much simpler than I had thought.
I would read to my baby, give him massages, and lay him on the floor for tummy time (which he hated). Then I would lay him on his back to look at some mobiles. I might walk and bounce him around the house showing him pictures or the mirror.
We would go on walks in the carrier or in the stroller. I would play music for him and dance with him. I am more on the quiet side, but I did talk to my baby, telling him things I had to do, where we were going, that we had to leave soon, or that I was going potty.
To be honest, I was worried about making sure he would be smart, so we did baby math, and elimination communication. I enrolled him in music classes and swim classes. I would watch YouTube videos, read blogs and parenting books, and just spend hours upon hours to make sure that my baby was getting the best start to life. I was always reading ahead to prepare for the next stage of development.
Yet, the day still just seemed long. There was only so much time that my son would spend on each activity. I still wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with my baby.
Here is what I have come to realize: we aren’t really supposed to ‘do’ anything with a baby. We are just supposed to ‘be’. We are just supposed to be ourselves. Upon reflecting, I can see that my desire to know what to do with my son stemmed from wanting him to be smart. I wanted to give him the best head start in life. I wanted him to understand the world.
The truth is, he will learn all those things, but not because I do certain activities with him. He will learn by watching me, the way I treat people, and the way I react to situations. The best thing we can do for our babies is to go about our lives, including them in our own daily activities.
I am not saying that you should not interact or engage with your child throughout the day. But I am suggesting that you just breathe. Hold your baby in your arms and look into their eyes. You don’t have to always be ‘doing’ something with baby. You can just be with your baby.
Let’s think back to what our ancestors most likely did with their babies. They simply gave birth, recovered a bit, and then went back to what they were doing before the baby. They brought the baby along with them as they worked the fields or sat in circles making things and chatting. The baby came along and the mother cared for them as needed.
Babies and toddlers are naturally explorative. Really anything can occupy them, like a clean toothbrush, a sock, silk sheets, or a ball. Remember that little ones are seeing everything for the first time. Just looking around and taking in their environment is enough. Imagine for a moment that you were to look at our environment for the very first time. You would have no shortage of visual stimulation and you might even feel overwhelmed by it all.
So to all the mamas wondering what to do with your baby: Just BE your beautiful self. That is the best thing you can ‘do’ with your baby.