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Smart Nurseries

Besides such essentials as a crib and changing table, add the following to your baby's room, to stimulate and delight her:

COLOR

Consider decorating with a bright wallpaper border, posters, or paintings. Newborns prefer bold patterns to pastel designs.

A MOBILE

Often the first toy to engage and amuse a baby, a mobile helps her learn to focus. Your best bet: a black and white one that faces down toward the crib, so it's visible from your infant's perspective. Some mobiles have interchangeable pieces for variety.

CARPETING

Choose a comfortable rug for your baby to lie on. Put her on her tummy as well as on her back, so she can practice lifting her head and pushing herself up on her arms, which will help her develop the muscles she'll need for sitting up and crawling.

A QUIET AREA

Babies are never too young to be introduced to books, so put a rocking chair in the room (it's useful for nursing and simply cuddling, too) or create a cozy corner for reading. Reading out loud to your baby not only helps her develop language skills, but also gives the two of you extra one-on-one snuggle time.

A BOOKSHELF

Start out with a special spot for her now-and-future reading material and for a CD or a tape player. Songs with words help infants learn about speech, and it's not too soon to introduce any music you enjoy.

A LOOKING GLASS

Attach a baby-safe mirror to the crib. Infants love to stare at and respond to faces  -- including their own.

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