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Decoding Baby's Play Habits

Research shows that baby boys seem to prefer hard objects, while baby girls like soft ones. So does this mean that your sweetie is already on her way toward nurturing and cuddling, or that your little man is destined to slam and bang from now on?

What science says Some research does suggest that the types of games your baby likes will predict later abilities and choices. For example, doll play around 12 or 13 months is associated with enhanced language development later on. And play with puzzles and blocks is thought to be related to future spatial skills.

Nature versus nurture The truth is that research is notoriously undependable, because so many variables influence who we are. The presence of siblings in the house may affect whether a girl will play more "girlish" games or more mixed games: As one might predict, girls with brothers are more likely to play both traditionally feminine and masculine games. And you can't ignore your own influence  -- let's say you're an architect, and more engaged by puzzles than most people. Your baby, in turn, may prefer them, too, because she sees how involved you are (plus, she's likely carrying your DNA!).

The bottom line Offer activities that build upon your infant's interests, and let her know that you're delighted with her preferences. And, without getting too pushy about it, leave some other types of toys around. You never know when she might want to explore, and that's how she'll really learn who she is  -- and who she's going to be.