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Making Time for Downtime

You're not the only one who likes a break. Your baby wants some time to herself, too. Everything from a fuzzy blanket to playing together stimulates her, so her growing mind requires a little rest now and again, says Judith Myers-Walls, Ph.D., associate professor of child development at Purdue University, in West Lafayette, IN.

"It's great to play and giggle with your child. But she also needs to have calm and relaxed times  -- and not just naps  -- in between," Myers-Walls says. What to know about giving your baby downtime:

• Ten seconds might be enough. Instead of jumping straight from one toy to the next, take a deep breath, so she can, too.

• She may need her space. The mere sight of you can be overstimulating, especially if you were just horsing around. If she fusses when you start a new game, put her in her crib or another safe place and take the chance to reload the washer.

• Staring at the ceiling can be interesting enough. Calm moments are welcome after a few busy hours of errands, toys, and chitchat. Soon, you'll both be refreshed for the next round of peekaboo.