Confidence Games

12 Months

Block-Knocking

How to play: Make a tower with soft blocks, and let your child knock it down. If she doesn't, topple it yourself. Then rebuild it, and see whether she follows your lead.

Why it's great right now: This exercise fine-tunes your baby's hand-eye coordination. It also lets her feel in control of you and the game.

The next step: Encourage your child to construct her own tower. Most 1-year-olds can stack two or three blocks without help.

Where's Mommy?

How to play: With your baby watching, hide behind the couch, then pop up and say, "Boo!" Then duck down again and reappear in another spot.

Why it's great right now: At around 12 months, a baby begins to understand that when an object leaves his sight, it hasn't really vanished but merely moved. Peekaboo builds confidence because your child learns that you're not gone for good.

The next step: Instead of popping up, stay hidden and keep calling his name until he crawls or toddles toward you. He'll be excited to "find" you, and doing so will help him connect your voice with your face.

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