Your baby's slept on his back all night, so 15 minutes after breakfast, flip him over on a blanket to play for a little while. He'll gain neck strength, and getting used to being on his tummy will help him learn to crawl.
Take him along in a front carrier while you pick up around the house or talk on the phone. The constant motion and change in scenery will entertain him, but talk to him as much as possible too.
It's a good time to get some fresh air and exercise. Strap him into his stroller at a 45-degree angle, and describe the trees, clouds, and cars you pass along the way. If he's ready for a nap, recline the seat fully.
Seat your baby in a high chair, and give him an easy-to-clean board book to look at while you make lunch or wash the dishes.
Seat your baby in an activity center for up to 30 minutes to encourage leg movement and curious play. Toys that have different textures and sounds will help him begin to understand cause and effect too.
Lay your baby down in his crib when he's drowsy but awake. If you hear him begin to stir, don't rush in. Give him time to settle back down on his own -- or to entertain himself for a little while once he's really awake.
Put on gentle music while he spends some time in a play yard with a few of his favorite toys. Learning to amuse himself is a crucial skill -- and when you know he's safe, you can quickly get dinner organized.
Put your baby on an activity mat to take advantage of that last burst of energy before his bedtime routine. Place him facedown for some more tummy time, or lay him on his back so he can reach for hanging toys.
Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of Parents magazine.