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Why Babies Love Toes

Beth Foster has a secret weapon for getting giggles out of her 8-month-old: She goes for her toes. "Emme loves when I pretend to gobble them up," says the Greeneville, TN, mom. "If I stop, she holds out her foot for more."

Emme's not alone in her foot fixation. "Toes are babies' first toy," says Cathryn Tobin, M.D., a Toronto-based pediatrician.

Why are those little piggies so irresistible? First, they're sensitive. Babies typically discover their delectable digits by touch between 4 and 6 months, before they can even see them. And they're accessible, too  -- by 5 to 6 months your child can maneuver them into her mouth to explore them properly. Which brings the next discovery: Toes taste good. "Babies love how salty they are," says Dr. Tobin.

Later in the first year, toes become utilitarian as babies use them to grip and push off while learning to pull up and roll over. They're handiest in the phase right before walking, when they help babies feel around on the floor and correct their precarious balance.

But it's the games  -- like "toe munching" or This Little Piggy  -- that your baby will appreciate most. Just get in her line of vision, start the fun, and you're practically guaranteed a toothless grin.