6 fun things to do with your new baby

First-time moms, welcome to motherhood. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: being a mom need not be just about changing diapers. It's also about having fun with your baby.

Life becomes pretty much chaotic when you first have a baby. But you'll soon realise that if you start incorporating mommy and baby-planned activities into your day-to-day routines, you will regain some structure to your life. In turn, this will benefit your baby, because when they have a routine, they have predictability, which gives them a greater sense of security. Most importantly, doing fun things together will not only strengthen your relationship but will create a life-long bond between you and your child.

So, where's a first-time parent to begin? Don't worry, you don't have to do all of these activities in one day. Why not try one a week, and see if you like them? Here are 6 ideas to get you out of the house and enjoying the company of your new baby.

1. Pick a fun exercise that both of you can do together
Exercising with your baby is one of the optimal ways of having fun together. Not only will it help you shed those unwanted pregnancy pounds, your child will revel in the physical movement and contact with you.

You can start simply by going for a power walk with baby in the stroller or holding him or her to your chest in a baby carry-on. Find out if baby and mommy fitness classes are available at your local gym or community centre. Sometimes mom-and-baby-geared businesses offer a variety of classes to choose from. Whether it's yoga, swimming or stroller aerobics, the options are endless.

2. Go to the movies together
Ever since becoming a mom, do you feel like you're missing out on seeing the latest movie releases? Fret no more. Most major Canadian cities offer movies for mommies. Check out theatre schedules in your city and you'll see that they hold movie screenings for moms and babies on a regular basis. Best of all, you don't have to worry if your baby starts crying or you need to feed. Remember, you'll be in a baby-friendly environment where the lights are dimmed and the volume levels are lowered for baby's sensitive ears.

3. Join or start a play group
When a baby is five months old or younger, actual interaction with other infants is minimal. This is not to say that play groups are not important. They are, because they put babies into contact with one another and expose them to social stimuli, which can only be good for their development. However, at this early stage play groups are most valuable to Mom.

Being part of a play group is great at getting you out of the house and helping relieve any feelings of isolation or depression that you may have felt since having your baby. Play groups offer the opportunity to meet other moms who are at the same stage of life and with whom you share similar concerns. Together you can exchange ideas and advice about your children. Ultimately you become each other's support group.

4. Never too young to learn
Enrol in a baby course. Find out what is offered in your neighbourhood or city. Whether it's music or storytelling, baby classes help a child's intellectual growth. I took my daughter to her first music group when she was four weeks old. Granted she slept through it the first time. But as of week two, her eyes and ears were on the man with the guitar. Today at 14 months she's still in awe and screams in delight every time she sees someone singing or playing an instrument.

As for you, you'll really enjoy watching your child's positive reaction to the surrounding activity. And as with play groups, you'll get out of the home and have the chance to mingle with other like-minded moms, dads and caregivers.

5. Reading time
It's never too soon to expose a child to books. I started reading to my daughter when she was in my womb, every night before I'd go to sleep. Okay, you don't have to start that early, but reading to your baby promotes the development of their language skills.

What's really fun is to take your little one to a bookstore. Nowadays most bookstores allow you to browse and read on the premises. Go to the children's section, make yourself and baby comfy, and start nurturing their love for reading.

Pick books that are colourful and filled with bold shapes. Point to the different animals in a book and teach your baby what sound each one makes. Use a different voice for each character in a story. You're baby may not understand what you're reading but I can assure you that they will definitely be intrigued and fascinated.

6. Introduction to animals
Your baby is probably too young for a trip to the zoo but nothing prevents the two of you from visiting your local pet store, where a whole new world of discovery awaits. Your son or daughter will be amazed at the puppies, kittens, bunnies, birds and all of the other animals.

Whichever way you decide to spend time with your baby, keep in mind that you have embarked on a fabulous journey that shouldn't restrict you to just feeding, burping, bathing and the countless other responsibilities attached to parenthood. So get out there with baby in tow and have some fun!

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