Laugh and Learn With Baby

Bust a Move

Most toddlers simply can't resist bopping along to a good beat, so join the fun by boogying down with your craziest dance moves. Your kid will delight in seeing you twist and shake in unexpected ways -- and he just might pick up a step or two. "Children are kinesthetic learners, so they not only have fun dancing, but they also learn by moving their body," explains Dr. Kessler. If you or your spouse is musical, create your own silly songs. "My 22-month-old son, Henry, loves it when my husband plays the guitar. We take a melody he likes, such as 'La Bamba,' and then change the lyrics using words that he thinks are funny -- like pepperoni," says Rachel Marshman, of Louisville, Kentucky. Not feeling that creative? Pull together a CD mix of kid songs for some impromptu dance sessions, add his name into "Old MacDonald," or sing his favorite tune while switching from a low to a high voice.

Play With Words and Images
As early as 18 months, children can recognize (and laugh at) things that don't look or sound the way they should, like a picture of a dog in shoes or a cow that "oinks." By 24 months, toddlers know the correct names for objects, so your child might find it funny if you put a banana to your ear and try to use it like a telephone. Or call your husband "Mommy." Spotting these simple visual and language variations enhances your child's memory and increases her ability to focus, says Dr. Kessler, which will come in handy when she starts school.

At this age, toddlers are the perfect audience for over-the-top slapstick comedy. They particularly love it when you become the butt of the joke.

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