From the moment of conception your baby is developing rapidly. By 12 weeks, all of their body parts are formed and from this point on development focuses on growth and getting ready for life in the outside world.
Your baby is learning many skills before they are born. From swallowing, sucking and breathing to listening to your voice and other sounds in their environment. They are forming millions of new connections in their brain each second, so now is a great time to start interacting with your little one.
It is never too early to start playing with your baby!
Ways to play before birth
So how exactly do you start interacting with that little life growing inside you? Here are five great ways you and your partner can play with your unborn baby:
Talk to your baby
From 18 weeks, your baby can hear your voice. By the time they are 24 weeks old, research shows that babies begin to respond to sound. We also know that they and are even able to identify your and your partner’s voice at birth.
Now is a great time to talk to your bump about what you are doing and what you can see and hear. Talk about your baby’s movements. Are they kicking, rolling or do they have the hiccups again? Tell your baby how much you love them, that you can’t wait to meet them and hold them in your arms.
Reading to your bump is a great way of getting into the habit of reading books once your baby arrives. Visit your local library and get out some children’s books. This is also a great way for your partner to connect with your baby. If you’re not sure what to borrow, why not check out these top books for babies.
As your baby’s brain develops they will begin to react to the sounds that they hear. You may notice a change in their activity when they hear music. They may become still if they were active, or reduce their movements in response to the sound. Some studies even suggest that babies can recognize music that they have heard in utero once they are born. You never know, this music may be a secret weapon when trying to settle your baby in the early weeks.
Touch your baby
From 16 weeks you may begin to feel the tiny movements of your unborn baby. By the time you are 30 weeks pregnant these will be large movements that are visible to the naked eye and certainly to your partner’s touch. Your baby will begin to feel you as you gently touch their poking out foot, elbow or heel. You may find that as you provide some gentle resistance to their movements that they become still, recognizing that they have been touched.
Sing to your baby
Your unborn baby loves to hear your voice, so feel free to sing along to the car radio or in the shower – remember it doesn’t matter how tuneful your voice is, your baby just wants to hear you. Now may also be a great time to revisit some of the songs and rhymes that you loved as a baby. Singing soft lullabies will not only stimulate your baby’s brain but may come in handy in soothing your baby when they arrive.
Want to know more?
Raising Children Network — Pregnancy week by week guide
Raising Children Network— Reading to babies
Talkable — Best books for babies
WA State Library — Better Beginnings