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Easy Games that Teach

We all want playtime to be educational, but I personally was often so tired I instead felt like inventing games geared to a few minutes of shut-eye. Every minute of play doesn't have to be a lesson, but these easy games will help your baby learn.

Game: Early hide-and-seek

What it teaches: Object permanence (that out-of-sight things exist)

How to play: Show your baby a Cheerio, then let it "disappear" into your closed hand. Open your hand and  -- voilá!  -- it's back. You can also hide toys under a blanket, or hide your cell phone while the ring tone's on.

Game: Sound off

What it teaches: Cause and effect

How to play: Give your baby assorted containers (plastic, metal pots, a cardboard box), and things to toss in them that make different sounds (plastic ball, child-safe spoon, stuffed animal).

Game: Tower of power

What it teaches: Fine motor skills and planning

How to play: Show your baby how to make a block tower and knock it down. Talk about colors and size ("This block is bigger").

Game: Kicking and squealing

What it teaches: Large motor skills

How to play: Help him kick a ball as you hold onto your budding Beckham.