The Benefits of Playtime for Babies

1 to 2 Years

Fill 'er Up

Turn your back and you're likely to find your toddler emptying the salt shaker or overturning the dog's dish. "My daughter loves to take the wash in and out of the laundry basket," says Katrina Blauvelt of Marietta, Georgia, mother of 1-year-old Eva.

What Babies Learn: Filling and dumping enhance hand-eye coordination and teach basic spatial concepts such as "in" and "out," as well as what things look like separately as opposed to all together; how big an area objects can cover; and whether objects will bounce or slide when dumped out.

Game Plan: Bath time is perfect for filling and dumping by adding toy cups or a plastic shampoo bottle to the tub so your child can fill and pour. Cardboard boxes are another boon -- babies can fill and empty them over and over again.

Sandra Gordon is the author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products (2004).

Originally published in American Baby magazine, June 2004.

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