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Have Your Baby Play Smart

There's no magical toy that will turn your tot into a genius. But you can pick playthings that boost your baby's development at every stage.
Baby holding Wimmer Ferguson Mind-Shapes 0-3 months: Eat, sleep, poop, and repeat!

True, that's how your newborn spends most of his day. But he's also getting acquainted with his surroundings through touch, hearing, and smell. "Add a few simple, washable toys in with activities like singing and rocking to help develop his senses," says Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, author of Dr. Toy's Smart Play Smart Toys.

Best Bests
Unbreakable mirror: Since your baby can't move much, he's exploring the world around him with his eyes, even though his vision is still blurry. He's also developing a sense of self, which makes staring at faces especially interesting. Hold a toy mirror, and make silly faces, blow raspberries, or move around in it to engage him.

High-contrast playthings: Toys in contrasting colors not only provide visual stimulation, they also improve motor skills by encouraging kicking, wiggling, and arm waving as your baby reaches for the vibrant object. Pick playthings that combine black-and-white patterns (such as stripes and polka dots) with bright colors.

Soft toys: Plush dolls and rattles that have varied textures, crinkling fabric, vivid colors, and squeakers can provide a stimulating multisensory experience for your little one.