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Checklist: Smart playtime

10 ways to amp up baby's playtime without turning on the TV.

When baby gets bored with her toys, it’s so easy to pop in a cartoon and let the TV work its magic. Baby gets hypnotized by the TV for one simple reason: The animation. The colors, sounds, and movement really engage and stimulate her. The take-away? Add a little animation into playtime! By playing to baby’s senses, you can entertain and educate her. (no TV necessary!) Some crowd pleasers:

□  Sing songs
Babies love music. The more you change the tone and pitch of your voice, the better. Turn everyday activities into a sing-along. Make up fun songs while you’re making lunch, folding laundry or cleaning. Let your playtime have a soundtrack.

□  Play music
Pick pleasing rhythms and melodies to stimulate baby. From classical music to The Beatles, listening to music has been linked to math aptitude... you’ll have yourself a baby genius who can really groove!

□  Make errands fun
Take baby grocery shopping. The colors and new faces are great stimulation... plus, you can cross another item off your to-do list!

□  Become a storyteller
It’s never too early to read to baby. The best storytellers use lots of voice inflections and tone changes -- better ham up your performance if you want to keep up with the local librarians! Hey, baby's the only one watching... why not have some fun?

□  Play with blocks
Find ones in fun shapes, sizes, colors, and even textures. Or, bring out the pots and pans and let baby jam. You don’t need the most expensive toys when baby is content to play with things you can find around the house.

□  Go for a walk
But not just any walk! Stroll near a park or lake, letting baby see new things in nature. Fill the walks with the sound of your voice. Talk throughout your stroll, pointing things out to baby and engaging her in your surroundings.

Users know how to have fun too. Here are some of your best suggestions:

□  Hide and seek
"A favorite playtime game I like to play with my son is to hide his noisy toys under a blanket and make the noise and then show the toy when he looks, it's like a modified peek-a-boo. It's also a great way for him to start to remember his toys." --KshWife

□  A workout for two
"Get on the floor and exercise with baby. My favorite is Yoga Bonding. Mommies get to do yoga with their b  abies. It's a great way to use up all of baby's energy!" --liz37

□  Hit the water
"Water play! My son loves to hear, watch, and splash in water. Sometimes I park his stroller in front of a fountain where he can watch and listen to the water. Other times I put him in a front carrier and let him 'help' wash dishes. And of course, a good splash in a baby pool in the summertime is always fun! Make sure never to leave baby alone around water for safety." --ModernMomma

□  Mirror fun
"Our daughter loves to play with the 'baby' in the mirror.  Either my husband or I will put her in front of the mirror and we will ask her who the pretty 'baby' in the mirror is, and she'll wave hello to the 'baby' and talk (well, coo) to the 'baby' and play with the 'baby' -- she loves that game!  We like to pretend that we are monsters and we'll look at DD and make a claw motion with our hands and say, 'GGRRRR!' and she will do it back -- and she's only 6 months old!!" --mistybryanemily

□  Make a sound
"My favorite game to play with my nieces (since I'm 5 months pregnant still) was laying them on my lap and making different sounds and waiting as they attempted to mimic them. It was so fun to make the Ooooo sound and watch as one of them circled her lips as I was doing trying to make the same sound!" --sarbear916

-- Paula Kashtan

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