6 to 9 Months
- What Your Baby Likes: Seeing people he recognizes, interactive games, cause-and-effect toys.
- What's Behind the Smiles: By 9 months, he's beginning to understand object permanence, the concept that an object or person still exists even after leaving his line of sight. He'll show you he understands this when he cranes his neck over his stationary activity center or high chair after a toy falls to the floor. He'll like it all the better if you pick up the toy for him to toss over the side again.
His memory is growing now, too, so what left him laughing yesterday -- hearing his sister sing a silly tune -- might make him chuckle days later when she does it again, Gross says.
- What You Can Do: Initiate a game of peekaboo. He'll also like having you help him hide a stuffed animal or toy under a blanket and asking, "Where'd it go?"
Play a modified game of airplane with your baby by lying on your back, knees bent, and placing him on your shins. Make whooshing sounds as you gently "fly" him back and forth and side to side.
Toys that allow your baby to push a button and watch something pop up are sure to induce a smile. I remember adding voices to a pop-up toy featuring a farmer, cows, horses, and sheep. Emma would bust out laughing at my deep "Farmer Fred" voice.
Making dinner and need a distraction for your baby? Offer up a couple of pots and pans along with a wooden spoon. He'll like knowing he's capable of creating such a racket. Speak to him as you both "cook": "Mommy is making mashed potatoes for dinner tonight. What are you making? Looks like green beans! Stir 'em up!"