Babies are hard at work whenever they are awake, trying to learn all about the world. To help them learn, they need many different safe things to play with and inspect. Objects you have around your home offer many possibilities.

Nancy Paulu

What you'll need

  • A splinter-free wooden spoon with a face drawn on the bowl
  • Different textured fabrics, such as velvet, cotton, corduroy, terry cloth, satin, burlap, and fake fur
  • An empty toilet paper or paper towel roll
  • Pots, pans, and lids
  • An old purse or basket with things to put in and take out
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Boxes and plastic containers
  • Large spools
  • Noisemakers (rattles, keys, a can filled with beans)

What to do

  1. Put one or two of the items to the left in a safe play area where your baby can reach them (more than two may confuse him).

  2. Let your baby look at, touch, and listen to a variety of objects. Ones that are brightly colored, have interesting textures, and make noises are particularly good. Be sure that any item you give your baby will be safe in his mouth, since that's where it probably will end up.

  3. Use these items for all age groups. Many of them will continue to interest toddlers and older preschoolers. For example, babies love to inspect a paper towel roll. But with a 4-year- old, it can become a megaphone for talking or singing, a telescope, or a tunnel for a toy car.

Babies begin to understand how the world works when they see, touch, hold, and shake things. Inspecting things also helps them coordinate and strengthen their hand

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