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Hands-on Learning

Babies don't stick their little fingers into everything just for fun: It's how they learn. When yours strokes your head, runs her fingers along the table, or squishes her food, she's figuring out the difference between hair, wood, and peas. To encourage her love of textures:

Take her on a touch adventure around the yard or neighborhood. Let her feel the soft blades of grass and the rough brick wall, the smooth slide and the craggy tree trunk.

Make a box of stuff that's fun to feel. Gather up some fabric scraps or household objects, and give your baby a chance to explore them. Babies love to taste things, too, so make sure there's nothing she could choke on.

Think big. Babies touch with their whole bodies, so give yours unusual surfaces  -- from a few plastic place mats to a large carpet scrap  -- to sit or crawl on.