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Fun Baby Games That Teach

On a walk

[BOLD {Touchy-feely fun}]
How to play: Instead of going for a power walk, pull over every time you see something with a new texture. Let your baby feel a rough brick wall, a bumpy tree trunk, a soft flower, or a pointy evergreen bush. And be sure to describe each in detail as your baby explores.

Why babies love it: Discovering new textures is exciting for her developing sense of touch, and since she's familiar with these objects  -- but has mostly just blown by them in the stroller or car  -- actually feeling them makes them come alive in a new way.

What it teaches: A sense of exploration. Your baby has thrived on lots of touch from you, through cuddling, hugs, and all her soft clothes and blankets. When she touches new objects, it helps her sense of discovery grow. There's good news for you here, too: Since this game helps a baby get comfortable with the feel of different objects in her environment, she may be less likely to protest when, say, you want her to sit in the sand or grass later on.

When to start playing: 6 months and up, when she's got the strength to sit up in her stroller and reach for objects.

The need for speed
How to play: For one block, pick up the speed so the stroller zooms along the sidewalk; then slow down to your normal  -- or an even slower-than-usual  -- pace. Continue altering the speed from fast to slow (until you need a break!).

Why babies love it: "Just as a lot of adults like roller coasters, most babies burst with anticipation and excitement after moving unusually fast," says Lerner. It's the same kind of thrilling sensation your baby has when he's tossed in the air and caught by the reckless uncle you'd like to strangle (but won't because your baby's laughing too hard).

What it teaches: The concept of speed. For the first few months of your baby's life, his day-to-day activities move at a fairly slow pace. When you introduce this new movement, it helps him distinguish between fast and slow.

When to start playing: 6 months and up, when your baby's sense of motion is more refined and he has the trunk and neck strength to sit up and enjoy the ride.

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