How Babies Learn Through Play

2 to 3 Months

  • Your baby begins to exert control over her limbs and will repeat movements that bring her pleasure.
  • By the end of the third month, she may develop hand-eye coordination.

Tools for Play:

Watching and interacting with moving objects helps your baby achieve these developmental milestones, so mobiles and gyms that dangle above her are ideal. (Once your baby can pull herself up, however, mobiles and gyms can be a hazard, so be sure to remove them from her crib.) Gyms also encourage your baby to swipe at things, "increasing her control over her body and her world," says Cindy DeLuca, a physical-therapist assistant at Baystate Medical Center.

While she's on her stomach, hold black-and-white puppets with mouths that move or colorful toys that make soft, gentle sounds just outside your baby's field of vision to encourage her to lift her head, says Shelley Velleman, Ph.D., a clinical linguist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Practicing these lifts strengthens your baby's neck, chest, and rib-cage muscles, which will help her develop the breathing patterns she'll need to talk.

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