The Benefits of Playtime for Babies

8 Months and Up

Sorting It Out

Starting at about 8 months, your baby will be able to grasp objects with her fingers and put smaller toys into a bigger one, such as a ball into a box. At around age 1, she will be able to put triangles, circles, and squares through their designated slots on a shape sorter.

What Babies Learn: Sorting helps babies understand the relationship between objects -- how they fit together and relate to each other. "It lays the groundwork for organizing and categorizing, which are basic mathematical concepts," says Goldberg. Sorting also helps babies develop hand-eye coordination, finger skills, and an I-can-do-it sense of competence.

Game Plan: Take advantage of sorting opportunities in everyday tasks. When you're grocery shopping, for example, let your child pick up a soft or unbreakable item and put it in the cart, which is a way of sorting and categorizing on a large scale. Have an older toddler help you sort the silverware and the socks by asking which ones go together.

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