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Checklist: Simple, Surprising Brain Boosters for Baby

___ Splashing in the tub. Aside from being majorly fun, it teaches cause and effect and the basic properties of water.

___ Clapping. It builds coordination and, if the two of you do it along to songs, rhythm.

___ Banging on a pot, which lets baby learn the different sounds he can make.

___ Unraveling a ball of yarn (another mystifying cause-and-effect lesson)

___ Touching running water, while you turn the temp from cold to warm. It's a simple sensory booster.

___ Singing songs. It helps build language skills and is a great activity to do together when you're stuck in the car.

___ Playing with fabrics that have different colors and textures, especially if you explain how itchy the wool blanket is or how soft the white fleece is.

___ Listening to soft, bouncy music. Babies naturally love to sway and bop along to tunes (hello, coordination!)--and music like this has been shown to enhance intelligence in and of itself.

___ Stacking a big tower of blocks (you might need to help with the stacking part) and letting him knock them down.

___ Drinking from a cup. It makes your kiddo feel accomplished and all grown up--as it fine-tunes his hand skills.

One more tip: Be sure to narrate each of these activities ("ooooh, that water is cold! Ahhhh, that feels nice and warm") so that baby learns to connect words with their meanings. It's a great way to stimulate language development and make these little games more fun and engaging for both of you.

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