Am I Giving Baby Enough Attention?

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Should I constantly give two-month-old my attention?

February 2007

This might sound weird, but here goes. I keep reading that I should talk to and play with and hold my child every chance I get. Well, I am a single mom, I am in graduate school, but am going half-time and have it worked out that I only go to class once a week and I take her with me. I study everytime she falls asleep. I also work about 8 hours a week from home. So about 3-4 days a week I dont think we even leave the house. My baby is two months old now. I don't understand how I am supposed to pay attention to her constantly, during her waking hours. She can't do much of anything on her own yet and it gets old doing the same things over and over and talking to her, and her googling back at me. I mean its great that she interacts with me and we love eachother, but seriously. Is it bull that anyone sits and talks to and plays with and holds their child every chance they get? I feel guilty not paying attention to her. I feel like she gets bored. Please tell me what you did when you child was an infant. Especially if you were a stay at home mom and especially if you worked or studied from home. I have read on here that there is no way you can get any work done from home with an infant. So this makes me feel bad. Like I must not be paying enought attention to her if I can get work done. And sometimes I want to chill out and watch a movie to unwind...if shes awake, am I a jerk for ignoring her? I am just confused cause my baby is content not to cry? She has only cried like 4 times since she left to hospital, though she does ''yell,'' as my mom calls it, which will turn to crying if left ignored. are we okay?

I worked at home as well when my baby was young. I paid a lot of attention to him, but certainly did not hold him or talk to him every minute - I would have gone insane! I incorporated him in a lot of my daily activities by talking with him about what I was doing. ''Mommy's going to talk on the phone now'' etc., which I'm sure would have sounded inane to an adult but worked for us! I also put him in a bouncy seat or baby swing while I worked sometimes. He liked to lay on the floor surrounded by toys as well. Also, we took walks a lot and I would talk to him then, about the trees, weather, etc. Again, the neighbors probably thought me nuts but I got some exercise and he got some stimulation. He's much older now and a very happy, well-adjusted child who can entertain himself easily. Sounds like you're doing fine! Survived Infancy

I would say: enjoy these first few months when it is still possible to be productive with your baby around. They don't last long. Very young babies mainly need to sleep, eat, and poop. Sounds like you have a lovely low-maintenance baby who is not fussy once those basic needs are met. Enjoy! If you don't already have one, get a gymini (always available used on the BPN marketplace) so she can lie on her back and look at and reach for the toys. As she gets older she will gradually let you know that she needs/is ready for more interaction, and once she gets mobile life as you know it is over! I will say something a little controversial: I think the emphasis being placed on ''attachment parenting'' is over-the-top and terrorizing parents into feeling inadequate. I say this as someone who just had a baby last year. Just do what comes naturally and you will give your baby what she needs. She will be fine! Get as much done as you can right now while you have the chance. Pragmatic Parent

Babies need time to space out too. Sounds like you have a mellow happy baby. Do watch a movie and have time to yourself; it's important for your sanity. I recommend a reference book called ''Baby Play'' put out by Gymboree. Each page shows an age- appropriate activity. It briefly explains what babies need from a developmental perspective. I was never fond of goo-goo ga- ga'ing my baby and found the book helpful for feeling like I was ''doing something''. Heather

I totally know what you mean. My daughter was definitely ''easy'' for the first 3-4 months. I thought I would never need daycare because she was SO easy I could just work while she watched her toys dangle in front of her! But for her, between 4 months to 8 months, she needed CONSTANT entertainment until she learned to crawl and entertain herself. And what age your child will start to need more entertainment will depend on her temperment. So, you're time could be coming.

But to answer your question, when she would ''self entertain'', which I consider anytime she was happy without me doing something to keep her stimulated, I would get work done then intermittently I would take her for walks, change our location (work in the office, work in the dining room, etc) or run errands.

Hands-free entertaining options: hang toys on a bar on a vibrating seat; hang toys from a play mat; sit her in front of a mirror; hang her in a door jumper (even if she can't jump yet as long as her head is somewhat stable).

Maybe you just have an easy baby, too! Busy Mom

I am a PhD student and a stay at home mom with an one year old child. And I have had the same feeling as you do, guilty not to spend more time taking constant care of my child. And guess what? My baby is the most independant, mild, active and good-mannered I have EVER met. Other parents usually get frustrated when they see him, because theirs have taken the habit to constantly ask for something. My son is very sociable and interested in people, but likes and knows how to play on his own, feed by himself, etc. I don't think infants get bored as long as they have something to play with, be it an adult or not. My boy loved the playmat with arches and hanging toys, and was always precocious in his motor development. I was not taking constant care of him, but when I was with him, I was ther completely, and forgot all about my research! Just remember you're doing a great job. And the best way for your child is your way... peaceful mother and passionate student

I felt that way with my first baby! What do I DO with him? I think it's very natural, especially if you never had little brothers or sisiters, or babysat. Suddenly you have this tiny person who is entirely dependant on you, and they don't even read, or watch t.v.!

I used to bathe him a lot. (once a day) because he liked it and it was something to do. Take him for stroller rides (good excercise), Get a mobile, he can spend some time under that. Other moms are good to hang out with, for so many reasons! If you can't find a playgroup (try Bananas) go hang at the park and see if you can meet other moms.

And sometimes the baby is fine not interacting! Especially if she's not complaining! I find it really hard to get much done at this age, but it gets better soon. Good luck! Been there!

One thing you can do is ''narrate'' your day. Children benefit tremendously from the language learning that happens if you talk to your child about everything that is going on around them. So, explain everything--at home, at the grocery store. This builds your child's understanding of the English language, builds their vocabulary, and makes life more interesting. Plus, go places that you want to go--take walks,stroll through museums and shops. Narrate those experiences. Do what you like to do and involve your child in that through talk.

It was definitely easier/less boring for me with the second because there were ready-made conversations/activities that the first was involved in.

Hang in there! Narrating momma

You are doing fine. When my son was 2 months old i just took him eveyrwhere with me. I did not always talk to him or play with him. He was entertained by whatever i was doing and the fact we were together. Frankly i think that constantly entertaining your baby means that he/she will nevrbe able to entertain herself! anon

First of all, you rock for doing this alone. The first few months is extremely hard on any couple, much less on any individual woman who already has her hands full with school. Your child already has a head start with you as a mom.

Second of all, the whole thing about interacting with your children is to make sure parents don't plop their kid in front of baby einstein for 800 hours a day.

Being a parent can be insanely, mind-bogglingly boring. Definitely read to her, talk to her, etc. But don't go nuts trying to do a tap dance that will keep her constantly entertained. If she'll watch a little Baby Einstein(no more than half an hour a day), let her. If you can put her under the little exercise mat and half play while you talk on the phone or do study, do that. All of the experts say to give your baby quiet time to just absorb and watch. You do not have to devote all of your attention to a teeny child until they can endanger themselves by sticking their tongue in an outlet while you check your email.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Jenny

I'm not a huge fan but the baby whisperer has an acronym. ''EASY'' Eat, Activity, sleep, You. So you get your time built right into the baby care equation. Our little one started to love an 'activity' toy she batted at which hung over her crib/cradle at about 2 1/2 mos. some babies like to look out the window at light patterns in the leaves. You can also tie your baby on and go out and have a pretty normal day until your baby gets bigger and more active. browse in bookstores, walk in the neighborhood, have lunch out. the baby and you get lots of entertainment. museums too! your baby will tell you if she's bored! anonymous

Yes, this is a difficult time to be alone with a baby, but you do need to hold her a lot. Get a good sling (check Marketplace!)or a bjorn and wear her around the house, put her in a swing for some stimulation while you work. Get a friend to take her on a stroll. Put some music on and dance around with her. Babies this age LOVE to be carried around all day. Body contact will do both of you a lot of good, you will respond with more oxytocin. Breastfeed her a lot. Good luck. mom

You do not have to do something with your baby constantly. Even the books will tell you that babies need time to figure stuff out on their own and chill out (well, they probably don't say ''chill out.''). At two months, you can take 5 or 10 minutes at a time to sing and play and stuff. You should give them one or two tummy time sessions for a few minutes a day. I usesd to bring my son around the house in his bouncy seat while I checked email, cooked, etc. As they can sit up more they can sit in a high chair or something. I think it's good to give them time to look around. You can watch a movie. Don't ignore the baby completely, but you don't have to sing and entertain all the waking hours. check out baby center or touchpoints and other parenting books and give yourself a break, because when you have two, you won't get to ''ignore'' anybody! mellow mom

Don't worry! I have a 5 month old, who is my second, and man! I am not spending nearly as much time with him, just holding and talking with him, as I did with my first. And, I don't feel bad for it. It's just life. Your little one will be just fine! You sound extremely busy as a single mom; what you are doing with your life, even (or especially) your relaxing with a movie will help her. Go easy on yourself. Happy mom=happy baby

I felt the same way when my son was two months old....It is great to spend time with them, get them out, talk to them, but at two months there is a lot of chill time. I can't say we ever watched a movie, but my husband worked a lot from home at that time, and the little guy was pretty content to be a cat curled up in daddy's lap while daddy plugged away at the computer. We both got a decent amount of work done at home in those first few months.

I think that a lot of the advice you mention refers to older babies. By 4 or 5 months, my son wasn't happy sitting around--we had to be standing and walking. By 6 months, he was crawling, 7 months, he was learning to stand up by climbing up the walls (a very dangerous stage)....You get the idea. I had a job working from home--I quit. It was true. I could get nothing done. At 13 months, my son still demands most all of my attention; writing this post had to wait until after he went to bed.

Babies are different. You know yours best. As long as the baby isn't sleeping too much or not eating well (a baby that is too quiet can have a thyroid problem), you're probably fine. If she was bored, she would be crying. Enjoy the time she is giving you now--it may not last! anon

I completely symphathize! I am also a grad student, and I also used to wonder what to do with a baby. With both my babies, I simply wore them in a sling almost all the time until around 6 months old (when they started getting restless and unwilling to sit in the sling for too long). I found a really comfortable sling called the ''stretchy wrap'' at Because it is so comfortable, I was able to wear my babies while working at home - and even at school. This past summer, I wore my youngest baby while making photocopies in the copy room, getting stuff done at the media center, and even while attending a talk - she was a mini-celebrity! She was so used to hanging out in the sling that she simply sat there and looked around at everyone and eventually fell asleep. Dr. Sears claims that babywearing is great stimulation both mentally and physically. I don't know how much stimulation my babies got from me sitting at the computer most of the time, but they seem to be developing well. My older one is now almost 3, and her language skills exceed many older kids. The younger one is 11 months and has great motor skills (almost walking, feeding herself most of the time). So I would recommend babywearing - but the key is to find a comfortable sling! (I personally hate the one that Dr Sears recommends - I need something that distributes the weight on both shoulders.) cclocke

Don't stress out about it. I am in the same boat - I have a 5 year old and 2 month old twins, so there's no way either of the babies is going to get as much attention as attachment parenting advocates think a baby needs. (Frankly, my main issue with attachment parenting is the guilt so many mothers feel when they can't live up to expectations.) A two month old is easily stimulated, so talking to and playing with your baby every chance you get would be way too much for them anyway. It's ok to let your baby lay there on a blanket, looking around and exploring w/ her eyes and ears. My twins love watching me fold clothes. Sometimes I just have to set them down and do something else or I will go crazy, and what kind of mother would I be to them then? You have to find a balance of giving your baby plenty of touch and interaction, but also staying sane.

One thing you could do is wear your baby in a baby carrier (I love the Ergo carrier) while you study or do something else. She'll be on you, getting to smell you and feeling secure. You don't have to talk to her constantly or interact. I take a break and have some one on one time w/ my twins by laying one on my chest while I read a book. anon

Some new moms want nothing else than to hold and coo at their new babies. Other moms get bored out of their minds. This does not prove that one type of mom loves her baby any more or any less than another type of mom. We just have different interests or tolerances for infants. The great thing about infants is that everything is new and stimulating for them. Nevertheless, it's still important that they get attention from their parent (s). When you have things you have to or want to do, you can easily include your baby. I was in a clinical training program when I had my first baby. I carried her in a baby-carrier (Sling or Baby-bjorn) where-ever I went and read out loud my academic material. This way, she was near my body and heart (literally & figuratively), she heard my voice, could see my face, and watch whatever I was doing from her safe, cozy, contained spot. If she didn't want to be held in that way, I could put her on my lap or on the floor, for her variety as well as mine. As you experiment, you'll find what works for the two of you. Enjoy! Sincrely, Deena

You are lucky you are blessed with such an easy baby. Your baby, at this age, is thrilled and engaged when you do ANYTHING with her. To answer your questions directly - the best thing you can do is talk to her. I am also a grad student and also do a lot of my paid work at home. When my son was that age, he is now 20 months, I would do a lot of my regular business but engage him in it while he was sitting in a swing, laying on the ground, or I would pull him around from room to room on pillows and blankets in a laundry basket! I would sit in front of him and pay bills, narrating the whole thing. ''This one is for the water. Do you know what water is used for?...Now I am pulling out my pen...'' I would clean house, pull him in the laundry basket from room to room, talking to him the whole time, telling him what I was doing. I read outloud to him from books I was reading for school. During all of these things, I would make eye contact whenever possible. He loved it all. When they are this small, babies are really content to be integrated into your normal life.

All you have to do, in my experience, is let her know that you are doing that! Talk to her a lot. She doesn't care what it's about - you dont need to talk to her about teddy bears and breatsmilk. Talk to her about what you are studying. Talk to her about what you have planned for the day. My son has always been a big talker, ever since he started to talk. I think this is about the fact that he has always been talked to so much. Just my thoughts. genevieve

You are OK! You are not doing anything wrong by being able to get things done with a 2 month old. When she gets older she will demand more attention but right now she is sleeping a lot, eating a lot, and just chilling out. The world, even just inside your house, is plenty stimulating for her. Remember, it's all new to her! Whatever you do, don't put her in front of the TV. For the next year she can be entertained just by looking, touching and exploring things. It sounds like you have your hands full and are holding it together beautifully. Don't feel like you need to be talking to her every second. It's nice to hold her rather than put her down all the time, and when she's a little bigger it's nicer to have her on a blanket where she can try to roll over rather than in a bouncy seat or car seat or swing all the time. But the swing can break it up a little bit. If you are nursing or even just holding her everytime she has a bottle, she is getting plenty of cuddle. There are some people who will say your baby should always be actually attached to you but I definitely felt that 9 months on the inside was enough of that! I nursed a million times a day but I did not hold her when she was happy on her own. It is true that babies are used to being all cozy with their mommies but on the other hand they are also used to being alone! Also, my baby liked listening to the radio and looking at mobiles. take it easy!

Oh but yes you can watch a movie! What I would do is put the baby in the bouncy chair facing me, so she could watch me watch the movie.

If you can't think of what to say to your baby, just show her around the house and point things out, tell her what you are doing when you're in the kitchen or whatever. take it easy!

You are lucky to have a peaceful baby- as mine is also. This must be your first child. You need to talk to and play with your baby often.This is how babies learn.Cuddle and nurture your baby.There's no need to feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself when the baby's sleeping (we all do it)- just make sure the baby's needs are met.They get more interesting as the months go by! anon

Truth be told, there's not too much you can do with a 2 month old, because they don't do much. And if you have a low-maintenance baby (as I did) who doesn't cry much, then just relax and be grateful. I did a lot of work from home by dragging my infant around in a sling, or setting him on a pillow on my lap and letting him sleep. Or, putting him on a blanket on the floor beside me and letting him roll around. If you think she's bored, put one or two big, brightly colored toys beside her. We got one of those ''Tiny Love'' gym things (blanket with a couple of arches and some mobile figures attached), and our boy spent many happy hours trying and trying to grab ''the pentapus'' (a 5-legged octopus thing). He's in school now, and a plenty happy, smart boy -- and no, I didn't spend anything like all my free time playing with him. Still don't.

She'll get more interesting in a month or two, and no one, absolutely no one, spends all their time staring at and playing with a baby. More important is that you get the work done that you need to, to be able to support your child eventually. And more important yet is that you do what you have to do to be happy. Miserable mothers do not usually have happy kids. Karen

I don't think anyone constantly plays with and googles at a baby. If you think about people in other parts of the world, they need to get stuff done, or they don't survive. What they do is wear their baby (Baby Bjorn not required). Try for some creative, low-cost ideas for baby-wearing, and you can likely wear your baby on your chest while you get other things done. Also, as they get older, you can put them down for a bit, but I think a 2 month old needs almost constant contact with mommy so I would try to wear her as much as possible. You don't have to necessarily interact with her, at least not actively, because she is taking in everything that you are doing as she sits on your chest and is totally comforted by your presence. Take care. --babywearing mama

The main piece of advice I give new moms is: cut yourself some slack and enjoy the fact that babies' needs are so simple and they can't understand grown up talk. You do not need to ''entertain'' or ''stimulate'' your baby. You can watch t.v. and movies in front of them and they won't be affected by the content. If she is bored she will let you know. Babies can look at a pattern on the wall or a plant and study it like a Derrida text. Sometimes a complicated pattern of shadows is too much and they have to turn away like they've been studying physics for 5 hours straight. All the stimulation they need is in an ordinary home or on an ordinary walk down the street. Also different babies like/need different things. Some like to be held all the time, others like to be left alone with something interesting to look at, listen to, or hold. It sounds like your baby is letting you know what she wants. If your baby lets you get work done, congratulations! You have an easy baby. So don't feel bad. Enjoy your good fortune. You are doing a fine job! --miss being able to watch t.v. while holding the baby

I think what you are doing with your baby is just right. At 2 months old, there isn't a lot she can do back at you. Some say the first 3 months is like the 4th trimester, so snuggle her close! Get a sling and at least have her snuggled up to you while you work. Take advantage of the fact that you can get work done now, because soon you won't be able to do as much when she can do more. Put her in a bouncy seat next to where you are working, so you can check each other out with eye contact often. Get one that has a toy bar, play music for her on the radio, etc. Perhaps the stories you have read about babies that don't let their parents get anything done are older, more active (and interactive) babes or are colicky. My baby was mellow and easy going, too, and I got loads done when she was awake. It is now that she is more interactive and demanding that I struggle with time management! lucky you!

Hi - You're not a jerk. I had the exact same question with my first. I took seriously my responsibility to do everything and interact with my kid .... here's the thing I learned. Both you and your child need breaks from each other. Your baby needs time to just ''be'' and so do you. You in particular because you've got to recharge your batteries so you're the best you can be when you are interacting. I also recommend you come up with a list of things to do with Baby not all of which involve your constant interaction ... for example, placing the baby on a gymmat and letting them look at the playthings. Have items in different areas of your home that you use. I refer to them as stations and when you're interacting with the baby teh stations can help you organize your time. Hang in there ....

I was in school and the primary care giver for my son when he was an infant, just taking one class like you. Everyone was amazed that I could get any work done, but I would let him play by himself for a half hour at a time, especially once he could sit up. I wasn't in school the first two months though, since thankfully he was born in July. Anyhow, he is a very well adjusted, perfectly happy little guy, still able to play by himself. I think it is a valuable skill for babies to not always expect 100 percent external stimulation. They are adaptable. But just be aware that 5 years from now, you might have a more independant child than you would have had otherwise, if you let her play on her own for periods of time every day. My son is very good at letting me know (now that he is 18months) when he actually needs my attention, and then I give him all the hugs and kisses he can stand. Everyone says how well behaved he is, and I think the alone time is part of that. Liz

Well, I don't interact with my 4-month-old whenever he's awake, no way! But here are some ideas. The attachment parenting people recommend ''wearing'' the baby as much as possible. To whatever extent your body can take it, put the baby in a sling or carrier and go about your business. Your baby feels close to you and secure, and gets the stimulation of looking at whatever is going on. (If you're studying, the baby may not be sufficiently entertained or jiggled, however.) ALso, when I need to cook or my back is sore, I put the baby in a bouncy seat right near where I am and give him periodic attention while doing my other activities. wearing

Let her look at other things than the ceiling. I taped pictures of people from magazines next to the diaper changing table and made a mobile of Target advertising (circles, strong graphics, smiling children). Until the kid could roll over, that changing table was his heaven, staring at the pictures. Your child will develop relatively soon, so these quiet, immobile (boring) days of her face and eyes being a blank slate, staring seemingly aimlessly, will end. No one ever seems to admit that: babies that age are indeed boring. Parents forget the boring stage usually because they are so tired, and is so short anyway. Another month or two, and she'll be too active for you to do anything but listen, interact, observe, chase, change, feed, reposition, etc. When it's appropriate, start tummy time, use a play mat/gymini/toy hanging doo-dad that she can stare at or kick at, and her googly-eyed staring off into space days are done. As long as she's not so passive she's a concern to the pediatrician, enjoy studying and working and being a mom. boredeom only lasts so long

It sounds like you have a calmer-than-average baby. Congratulations! You CAN watch a movie and not be interrupted a million times by your baby's needs. :-) Many babies are more demanding, and it's their mothers who generally complain they can't get anything done. Both are perfectly normal.

I have two kids. One has always been much more attention- seeking than the other. With both, when they were babies, I worked while also caring for them full time, but was able to keep it up much longer with my daughter than with my son, because she was much happier playing more or less on her own than he was. There did come a time that I felt they needed more attention, and more outdoor play, than I could give them while working, but that time was at 5-6 months old for my son, and at 13-15 months for my daughter.

(The personality difference, by the way, is still evident now that they are 6 and 2, but the fact that I didn't spend every waking minute playing with them when they were 3-month-olds doesn't seem to have harmed either of them any.)

If your baby likes to contemplate her own fingers and is perfectly content by herself in a bouncy seat for half an hour or more, you're not doing her any harm by more or less ignoring her. Just be sure you respond when she tries to engage you, whether by crying or just by gurgling or waving at you, and that in fact she does eat and sleep enough!

You may also want to try wearing her in a sling or other baby carrier. That way, you can just go about your business and she gets lots of social interaction opportunities (because she's closer to adult face level, rather than at feet or knees as she would be in a bouncer or stroller) and exposure to lots of different things (books, food preparation, etc.) that she wouldn't otherwise have a good view of, and a developmentally advantageous physical ''workout'' (learning to balance while you move). It's the most ''educational'' way for a young baby to just ''chill''.

(However, I'd say if you're watching TV or at the computer, your baby is probably better off hanging out somewhere other than in front of the screen.) Working Mom

Hehe. Yours is the cutest post ever. ''Every chance you get'' is meant more for the mom who is so busy, she hardly has time for anything.

No, you're not a jerk for having mommy time. You're figuring out your personal balance, and absolutely, you need some time just for yourself, or just for grownups. In general, if you can put her in a sling on your body and go about your day, that's a good thing. She'll feel safe and cozy with mommy. Then talk and play with her some of the time; and layher on a blanket on the floor some of the time, within your sight, while you relax. anon

I have two month old twins. My feeling is, as long as the kids aren't crying and don't look unhappy, they're okay. Both kids like sitting in a vibrating chair or swing. They like hearing my voice, but it doesn't really matter what I'm talking about -- you could just talk out loud about what you're studying. I think the kids spend a lot of time learning from looking around. And I don't think you need to be constantly interacting with them. One thing our kids absolutely love: we have a mobile with plastic cards with simple drawings in black, white, red, and some other colors on them. We got it at Mr. Mopps for $20. We hang the cards from their bouncy chair and swing, and they love staring at them.

If your child is easy-tempered enough that you can get other things done while caring for her, I think you should just count yourself lucky and go on doing as you've been doing. twin mom

It\x92s been a few days since your post, but I couldn\x92t stop thinking about it and had to reply, as someone who has been through 2 newborns, had a lot of the same emotions you are having. Here\x92s what I have learned:
1. 2-month-old babies are boring. They want to have their eating/sleeping/diaper needs met, and cuddle/social time is bonus. They don\x92t really \x93play\x94 in the usual sense, and tire quickly, as you said.
2. If your baby is not crying, she\x92s FINE!
3. Stop reading so many books. :) Your parenting instincts are already guiding you better, I can tell.
4. Be sure at least some of your ''chill out'' time is spent with OTHER PEOPLE you love (with or without your baby). Helps ward off the blues and the guilt.
5. The guilt comes from the blues.
6. Likewise, get out of the house EVERY DAY, even on your non- school days, even for just a few minutes.
7. This is the time in your baby\x92s life when you can (almost) live your own life and take her along with you, because she\x92s still so portable. So put her in her stroller, and do the things you want to do \x96 go shopping, run errands, visit friends, get your hair cut. Don\x92t worry about needing to do \x93baby activities\x94 \x96 there will be plenty of time for that. When you want to watch a movie at home, just prop her next to you on the couch, and WATCH! Don\x92t worry- you\x92re doing great.

Occupying 2-week-old during her awake hours

Sept 2004

I am a new mom and my two week old has two stretches lasting 1- 2 hours of being wide awake. She seems too young to play with and none of the bright rattles or stuffed animals seem to interest her. Ultimately she seems to want to suck on something but I am very weary of offering her a pacifier because I used it once and she just cried when if fell out of her mouth. I end up spending much of the time nursing her and rocking her to sleep. This will prove to be very difficult when I have to get ready for work or if someone else is watching her. Any suggestions? betsy

I'm sure you'll get a whole menu of options, just like I did when I faced the same challenge. But I have to say that I wonder if we wouldn't have been better off providing LESS entertainment. I know that sounds funny, but it's sort of a setup for the future: I found myself having to ''wean'' my son from relying on me to make things fun. In my fantasies, if I could do it again, I'd let him lie on the floor a lot more, maybe with a few scattered objects around him, and wait. I realize that's fantasy, and that you're in the hardcore reality of needing to cook dinner. But to the extent you can, I encourage you to experiment with letting your baby work through boredom and little doses, and then in growing doses. em

Newborns are just absorbing the world--looking and listening mostly. I used to put mine in a baby bjorn and just go about my day--he hung out there happily, looking around to see what was going on. You can also try putting him under a mobile--that would keep mine happy for at least 20 minutes, long enough to brush my teeth and get dressed. If your mobile doesn't have a motor, you can (if you're closely supervising him) attatch it to his leg with a string, and he can make it move by kicking. With a one-year-old now, I look back fondly on those times of just having him close, relatively immobile, and being able to get some of my own things done at the same time! Enjoy it while you can! : ) anon

Put her in a sling or other carrier and go about your usual business! She may fall asleep, especially if you nurse her and/or do a lot of walking, but even if she stays awake, just being close to you and observing the world is plenty of stimulation for a young baby. (My own 3-month-old is sitting in my lap, in a sling, as I write this. She's been asleep for several hours and is now ready to be awake for a while. She's completely content to watch my hands on the keyboard and the trees moving in the wind outside the window for at least a little while, and when she gets tired of that I'll shift her position in the sling and nurse her or go for a little walk.) Anyone can do this -- dads and nannies often find that babywearing helps them even more than it does moms -- and it will allow you to fix breakfast and other mundane tasks even while you rock and/or nurse your baby. There are lots of different types and brands of slings, wraps, frontpacks and so on, so it isn't hard to find at least one that is comfortable for both you and your baby. And don't worry -- the need to suck does eventually go away! Holly

I think two weeks is WAY too young to be thinking about training your baby for your return to work. She is hardly out of the womb, and needs to be treated as though she is still there. Hold her, nurse her, talk to her, read or sing to her, give her a little massage, take her for a walk outside... Just relax and enjoy her and do whatever it takes to make her happy and comfortable. Rebecca

When baby's are two weeks (or three weeks or even six weeks old) they really won't give you much feedback other than crying and really aren't into much other than sleeping, pooping, eating and sucking. Nursing, rocking, walking, popping in pacifiers are pretty much what you do as a new Mom during this time period. It can be frustrating.

Keep at it with the pacifier if you don't want to constantly have your child at the breast. It will pop out. You will put it back. It will pop out. You will put it back. At some point your child may get over the sucking issue or your child will find her thumb (the thumb can take a few months to find).

Try bouncy chairs or swings. Some infants find these soothing for periods of time. Also, try a sling or a baby bjorn -- this way the baby can cuddle next to you while you get things done.

Don't worry, in a month or so, your child will be completely obsessed with her playmat. She will play for an hour or more at a time. And then you'll look over because it has suddenly gotten quiet and you'll find your baby conked out. The newborn frustrations will seem like ages ago. -been there

Don't use a pacifier all the time (you want her to learn not to need to suck all the time)...but do use it when you need peace. And if you use it alot now...just try to wean her from constant use by 6 months...after that it is hard to wean her from it.

Carry her alot. Carry her around in a sling or baby bjorn when she is a little older. Get a bouncy chair...the chair says not for use with such young infants but I found it works fine. Just be near and watchful. (Don't put it up on a table neighbor's child fell off the table in a bouncy chair.) Put your baby in the chair where she can see you. I found my daughter loved being outside in the much to look at. I used it in the bathroom when I took showers, in the kitchen when I cooked. My daughters loved the vibrating of the chair when they were often put them to sleep.

Give her some time laying on the floor with you sitting near her and talking to her. Give her some tummy time too while she is awake.

The first few months are need to carry them around a lot, but don't worry...they are constantly changing and they will grow out of this. The more you carry her now...the more secure she will be later and the more comfortable she will be to explore her environment alone. Soon she will like laying on the floor and reaching for toys. Anon

Don't worry. Unless you are starting work very soon, chances are she *will* want to play by the time you go back to work. You also might consider getting a wind-up or battery-powered swing, which soothes some babies (it works for ours). anon

When my daughter was that age a few months ago we experienced the same thing. We found that she responded right away to black, red, and white visuals (toys or images) that had bold patterning. We were amazed that she could ''play'' at two weeks old! Tiny Love has some great toys that we used a lot for her jus tto look at as we moved them around and she still likes them at 3 months. Also, regarding the sucking, many people don't know (we didn't) that all babies really need to exhaust their sucking reflex this means being able to suck on something quite a lot other than nursing. We found our daughter would need to suck on our index fingers for up to 5 or 6 minutes at a time in order to soothe her need. This is really normal. Pacifiers didn't work for us either but the finger does! Try taking your baby around the house and showing her different things - this works well. Even going outside for some leaf or tree looking was helpful. Get creative - it is amazing how they respond. Music is always good for us too but by far the best thing we did was hold and carry her. We had her in a sling or baby bjorn much of the time and she loved it. Good luck! Been there

It's tremendously difficult to transition from being pregnant to having a baby. The infants amount of dependency, constant need for care and attention, and your lack of sleep can make it extremely stressful. Having emotional and tangible support is crucial to support you and help ease you into this fulltime, lifetime responsibility. The new mother needs mothering in order to mother her new baby. Right now, your baby needs you and you still need to have a life so you have something left to give.

For the time being, you can carry your baby around in a sling or baby-bjorn type carrier as you go about your business. This keeps the baby ''entertained'' and close and warm.

I wonder how much experience you've had with infants prior to having your own? What were your fantasies of what it would be like? What are your fears or concerns about the baby's needs? How does your need to prepare to go back to work impact your ability to be available and attach with your baby? I wonder if you feel irritable or short tempered with your baby's dependency? Could you be having a post-partum depression?

I am a psychotherapist who specializes in post-partum adjustment including depression and anxiety, and balancing work & family life. I'd be happy to talk with you and help you through this signifant life transition. Please feel free to call me. I wish you well. Deena

Entertaining a 4-month-old

Aug 2004

I spend a good portion of my day entertaining my 4-month-old, and while I have invented quite a few games which he enjoys, I am starting to get bored. He tends to get overstimulated quickly by toys and books, but he can spend a long time playing face-to-face verbal and movement games. I am hoping you can share you and your baby's favorites with me, to give me some more ideas of things to try, so that mom can have as much fun as baby :). one-woman-show mommy

You're right that babies love face to face contact. You can also prop the baby up on some rolled towels or blankets and put some toys in front for him to look at and practice reaching for and touching. Lots of different textures and colors or toys with faces on it are good. Gynboree Play and Music also has infant classes. You can find out more about them by logging onto Hope that helps. Judy

Maybe you should give yourself a break, and let the little tyke just be. He may be content to stare out the window, or watch you wash dishes, or play with toys that attach to a bouncy seat. At four months, I presume he's not sitting yet, in which case the Gymini-type! play mats with dangly things are perfect-- lay him on the mat, let him paw at the things that dangle, and you can relax or do something nearby. I carried my daughter a lot at your son's age; I'd create errands to run, to occupy our time--she didn't need to be entertained in the car (we also have a mirror in the backseat she can look into), and once we arrived at our destination, I would carry her in the Bjorn. She loved being carried in the Bjorn (still does at 11 mos). Lastly, you may be interested in the book, ''Baby Play'' by Gymboree, which suggests interactive games for babies from birth to 1 year. Best wishes. Tracy

OK, here's my advice: put your child DOWN and don't stimulate them all of the time! I have heard from many many people that they are frustrated with their children. ''They're so clingey! I have to be there all the time! They won't play by themselves! They require constant stimulation!'' Realize that boredom in childhood is a boon! It's a growing thing, it's during boredom that the baby has downtime, can ruminate, can just ... stare at stuff and learn to be content, to comfort themselves a bit and to entertain themselves. You should NOT be working so hard to ''entertain'' your child that you end up calling yourself a one mommy show. Take it from someone who's heard a lot of moms lamenting their choices: don't overstim your kid.

Not sure if that helps, but your post made me think of it. BTW, at 6 months, my son would happily lie on a fur rug with some toys in my office for 1/2 hour plus. I'd come by sometimes, but he was quite happy on his own for a while. relaxed mom

Hey, let's face it, at 4 months of age, you ARE the show, Mommy! At 4 months of age, there's not a whole lot physically that a baby can do, and we as humans are wired to respond to other human's faces and features. Your baby wants to be with YOU and play with YOU! I know that is impossible, even boring for you at times, perhaps, so try to intersperse your play time with some time in the sling or Baby Bjorn while you get a few things done around the house. This can be a tough age until baby gets more mobile and can entertain herself with toys -- she's pretty young for that yet. Meanwhile, try some tummy play -- both of you on your tummies playing peek-a-boo or singing a song! (this is when i do some of my trunk strengthening exercises so at least I get some smiles and strong abs out of the deal!). Tummy play is very important for developing your babies trunk strength too, so you both win! I am a pediatric physical therapist and trust me, we all need more tummy playtime for stronger tummies and backs! Good luck -- when I get bored, I remember that this is a very brief time in life and it will be gone befoe we know it. That always keeps me interested. Trish

Two books which I've found to be great resources during my son's first year are ''WonderPlay'' (Reitzes & Teitelman) and ''Baby Games'' (Martin), both of which offer tons of ideas for games and activities with your child at different stages of development. Some of my son's favorite things around 4-6 months, in case you haven't already tried these, were: dancing (in my arms or lying on the floor while I moved his legs) to music, The Mighty Duke of York (some people know this as Captain Brown, I think), Patty- Cake (with me doing all the work), This Little Piggy, and lying on my knees for airplane rides while I lay on my back (a good ab workout, too!). He also really enjoyed mirrors and books with different textures to explore - we had a great one by Lamaze with animal faces where the elephant ears are leathery, the tiger's tongue is suede, etc - it's designed for older kids, but he loved it early on, maybe because of the faces. Have fun! Jeni

my baby loved to be ''parked'' under a tree at the park, she would spend a long time making noises to the moving leaves and smiling. Her other favourite 4 month old ! activity was to watch her little older friends playing from her boucy chair. biby