Laugh and Learn With Baby

Horse Around

Physical humor is one of the first ways you can poke at your child's funny bone, says Carol Kessler, Ph.D., associate professor of education at Cabrini College, in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Ever since your toddler was a baby, tickling has probably guaranteed you a chuckle or two. But now you can take it to the next level by adding suspense. For example, try this classic game: Walk two fingers slowly toward her, and then run them quickly along her arm up to her neck. The next time you wiggle your two fingers and say, "Tickle spider!" she'll laugh in anticipation. Another tried-and-true tactic: Yell, "I'm going to get you!" as you run after your child and grab her. Let her have a turn chasing you, and fall to the ground when she catches up. Just make sure you give it a rest if she starts getting fussy. "It probably means that she's feeling overstimulated and it's time to take a break from the roughhousing," says Dr. Grubb.

Show Your Silly Side
At this age, kids are the perfect audience for over-the-top slapstick comedy, says Parents advisor Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block. They particularly love it when you're the butt of the joke, so pretend you don't have control of your feet and stumble around, or close your eyes as if you're asleep and snore loudly. Your child will find it hilarious when he taps you and you suddenly "wake up" confused. You can also try to drink from your child's sippy cup, cuddle his blanket, or struggle to "fit" into his T-shirt; he's so used to being the little one that switching roles is sure to get him to giggle. This can even help you out when he's not being cooperative. If he's fussy about getting dressed, for instance, act like you don't know where his coat goes and try to put it on his legs. He'll think, "Mom is silly -- this is how it's done!" and will show you himself. "Toddlers know they're not the fastest, strongest, or smartest in the room. So if you can give them a few wins, they'll feel proud and be more willing to help you out in return," says Dr. Karp.

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