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Appreciating texture
Some babies may actually prefer a firmer touch. Try applying pressure slowly and gently to baby's skin before bedtime to help your child settle down. As your baby becomes better at grasping objects, you may find that your hair or face becomes the focus of exploration by touch. That's your cue that baby is really starting to appreciate texture: rough, smooth, crinkly, soft, squishy.

Look around you to find textures that tickle your baby's fancy. After you put some clothes in the dryer, let baby experience the vibrations of the running machine by holding a little hand on the dryer's surface for a brief moment. When you take the clothes out, demonstrate how warm they feel (touch them first to make sure they're not too hot; the same applies to the dryer).

Next, for a contrast, let baby feel something cool. You'll probably be rewarded with a delightful look of surprise on your baby's face. Not only does your little explorer love grasping everything in sight—baby also appreciates your help in discovering new things.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education