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The more they play, the more they learn
The more things are manipulated, the more baby learns. Baby wonders: 'What kind of sound will this make if I drop it in the bucket?' 'How do these funny shapes fit together?' 'My block tower works better if I put the big blocks on the bottom, right?' This is how answers are worked out through play.

With each new discovery, fun and learning move to a new level. When toys offer several activities with increasing challenges, babies strengthen and build new skills. These early and sometimes shaky attempts at mastering a new skill require lots of practice. As every parent knows, babies can push, pull, and grab. But in the beginning they often can't manage the small motions of the wrist and fingers required for more delicate maneuvers. A toy such as a shape-sorter lets kids develop their dexterity skills as they try to fit the correct shape through the right opening.

If you pay close attention to your baby's repetitive play, you may notice that your exceptionally crafty child is not merely doing the same thing over and over. In fact, baby may be introducing subtle variations into a certain activity, each of which teaches your child something new and interesting.

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