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Activities for CHD Babies After Major Heart Surgery

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

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Whew! We got that out of the way... now what??

After open-heart, and open-chest, surgery there are definitely some difficult physical limitations for your little one:

• No tummy time

• No picking up from under arms

• No pulling on arms

Yes, this list has 3 items, but you would not believe the road-blocks these 3 limitations come with! We had to be careful about what seats and bouncers to put our 4 month old baby in, because we wouldn't be able to get him out without lifting improperly. We had to make sure he wasn't going to start rolling over. And we had to be careful about what outfits to put him in so we didn't pull on his chubby arms too hard. Just to name a few...

On top of that, we had to watch his twin sister and make sure she didn't kick or hit him in the chest (accidentally, of course).

Here are a few items that made his 4 week recovery easier for all of us:

1. Easy-to-lift-baby-out-of Bouncer

Scoop the baby! I never realized how often I lifted from under the arms until I couldn't do it anymore! We were so used to scooping the babies up under their arms that we had to put up signs for ourselves as a reminder. This Fisher Price bouncer was the perfect seat for him for eating and/or watching cartoons. And of course, we had to get one for his sister. We didn't need anything fancy, and this model is very reasonably priced compared to some of the bouncy seats out there.

2. Grabby Toys & Teethers

We actually took this ball to the hospital with us. He loved to get his chubby little hands on it and shake it. He was a little upset that he couldn't eat it, but grabbing it and bringing it to his mouth was great practice for his motor skills. We also had little teether keys that he loved shaking and biting.

3. A Balloon

This seems silly, but it is fascinating for a little one. Putting a balloon on his leg and watching it bounce around kept his attention for a long time (in baby time). Plus, he was always on his back so anything up in the air is exponentially more fascinating than the ceiling and lights. Just make sure to watch the string! Also make sure that the hospital staff is OK with it being in the room (depending on oxygen tanks, lighting, etc.)

4. Noise Makers

Technically, this can go with "Grabby Toys" but I felt like it warranted its own category. My baby seemed bored playing with his stuffed animals. Enter the crinkle book! Crinkly toys, rattles, shakers, and sound makers captured his attention right away! His motor skills still needed some work, but him being able to move something that made a noise was very fun for him.


The main thing we learned from this experience is that Jack didn't care about his surgery or incision, he just wanted to play and snuggle. We still had to keep him busy and learning during the 4 week recovery period. Unlike an adult or an older child, we couldn't just park him in front of the TV and tell him to rest; we had to keep playing.

The recovery period will seem slow at the time, but before you know it you can start back to regular play time!


Emily Rose is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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