mobiles and floor gyms further assist with motor skills by persuading your baby to reach for toys and grasp and bat at them

Mobiles and floor gyms further assist with motor skills by persuading your baby to reach for toys and grasp and bat at them

When you've got a newborn there's not much you can do together - all she does is sleep, eat and dirty her nappy, right? Not quite. Here are some simple ideas for playing with your baby in her first three months.

Infants spend most of the first three months of their lives listening intently to everything that's going on around them, even starting to try to reproduce sounds - especially adult voices - by experimenting vocally with their throat, tongue and mouth. Talk to your baby constantly and make lots of different noises – it's all helpful for her speech development.

Talk to your baby constantly, sing, and make lots of different noises to keep her entertained  

And because your baby is absorbing so much through her hearing at this age, it's a good idea to play lots of different kinds of music for her. You can move her hands, feet, legs and fingers to the music. Songs with actions, such as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Round and Round the Garden will amuse your baby, even though she won't be able to join in for some time yet!

Visually, babies of this age are drawn to faces and striking objects. Your baby's intrigue with bold colour and light means that mobiles that are tied above the cot, and floor gyms with hanging features, will capture and hold your baby's attention when she's lying on her back. Hanging pictures with unusual patterns or shiny, contrasting designs, or photos with lots of faces, can also keep her interest.

To encourage muscle control in your baby's head and neck, you can hold a toy above her eyes so she'll lift her head to look at it. You can also move objects such as rattles and toys horizontally in front of her, and watch your baby follow your fingers. Use a hand puppet or sock for the same effect.

Physically your child needs to learn how to hold her head up, move her neck and manoeuvre her limbs (although she won't be doing this with any sense of control for a while). Putting her on her stomach for tummy time is essential for building these motor skills. On nice days you can take your baby outside on a blanket for tummy time, as there's lots of things she can look at. Placing her on a quilt with pictures on it also gives her something to look at.

As your baby gets older, mobiles and floor gyms further assist with motor skills by persuading your baby to reach for toys and grasp and bat at them, helping her to understand cause and effect and hand to eye coordination.

Talk to other new parents about play and baby care ideas in the Essential baby forum.