The Benefits of Playtime for Babies

4 to 15 Months

The Big Bang

Shaking, throwing, dropping, and especially whacking toys against a surface is how your baby experiments. "Babies love to bang," says Maureen O'Brien, PhD, director of child development at The First Years corporation in Avon, Massachusetts.

What Babies Learn: Crashing two objects together reinforces the concept of cause and effect: If your baby hits them hard, they make a loud noise; if he hits them lightly, a soft noise. But that's not all. "Experimenting with sound effects also helps children understand what's big and little, heavy and light, and rough and smooth, as well as spatial concepts, such as 'up' and 'down,' 'next to' and 'around,'" says Goldberg.

Game Plan: Think outside the toy box. Fill a bottom kitchen drawer with toys and household objects that your baby can safely beat and batter, such as pots, golf balls, and wooden spoons. Of course, the sound of pounding is often not music to Mom's ears. "I couldn't stand the bang of the pots and pans so my twins got Tupperware," says O'Brien.

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