Playing with Your Baby

Playtime Guidelines

As your infant spends more time awake (about half the day is fairly typical at this age), you may be wondering how best to fill those hours. You're right to wonder. Interaction with you is key to how your baby's personality and intelligence will develop.

Here are some guidelines for making playtime with your baby as enjoyable and enriching as possible-for both of you:

Be natural. In the early months, don't try to teach your baby anything specific during the times you play together. Just have fun and be spontaneous. Infants are genetically prepared to be interested in the things they must learn at a given stage. At this point, they just need to learn how people move, talk, and react. Simply by doing what comes naturally-talking baby talk, exaggerating your facial gestures, and playing physical games like tickling and peekaboo-you are teaching your child about human behavior.

Help your baby learn. Your infant will begin to develop more mature head control in the next few weeks, so prop him up with some pillows so he can better observe the world. This is an example of noting your baby's development and helping it along. Watch for indications that your child is ready for new discoveries, and try to facilitate his progression to the next step. Since he's beginning to take more notice of his own body play simple physical games, such as "this little piggy," or help him clap his hands. Don't try to force developmental advances, however. If the activity is more frustrating that fun, learning will take longer.

Reward your child's efforts. If your baby accomplishes something-bats at a toy for the first time, for example, or rolls over-let her know you think she's terrific by giving a cheer, clapping your hands, or hugging her.

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