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Hands, Ears, Nose, and Toes

As babies grow, they start to take notice of the things in their world  -- including their body. When will your child find her fingers? Her belly button? A timeline:

Age: 3 months

Discovery: Hands

Until now, she's kept hers balled up into fists (a newborn reflex). But they'll uncurl and move about in ways that will catch her eye just as she grows coordinated enough to bring them in front of her face. (She won't realize they're a part of her, though, until between 5 and 7 months.)

Expect her to stare at them  -- turning them over, opening and shutting them, and wiggling her fingers  -- for minutes on end. She'll also suck on her fingers, sometimes her entire fist.

Age: 5 months

Discovery: Feet

It takes longer to find them, since, for the most part, they're out of sight, out of mind. But at around 5 months, she'll notice her feet when she kicks her legs up, and she'll discover that they're fun to grab hold of. At around 6 months, she'll bring her toes to her mouth to suck on them, simply because she can.

Age: 6 months

Discovery: Belly Button

Before, she could locate it only by accident; now she's got the coordination to find it whenever she wants to. And she'll love it when you lift up her shirt and blow raspberries on her tummy!

Age: 6 to 9 months

Discovery: Ears and Nose

Your baby enjoys poking her fingers into holes, so ears and nostrils make especially wonderful toys.

Age: 8 to 12 months

Discovery: Private Parts

It takes a while for babies to discover what's under their diaper because the area's almost always covered up. But eventually a little boy will pull on his scrotum and penis, and a little girl will explore her vagina. Don't feel you have to stop the behavior; it's completely normal.

Age: 12 months and up

Discovery: Shoulders, Elbows, and Knees

With time, she'll become aware of less obvious parts of her body. Sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" with her and substitute other parts, like elbows. Your baby won't be able to join in the motions until around 18 months, but she'll get a kick out of watching you!

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