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Can You Top This?
Here's a madcap way to celebrate your little one's growing delight with unexpected events.
Appropriate for: 4 to 10 months
Skills developed: Visual, sense of cause and effect
What you'll need: A wide-ranging selection of odd items to put on your head
In the classic children's book Jennie's Hat, by Ezra Jack Keats, a little girl who's disappointed in the hat she receives as a gift tries on all sorts of odd things (a lamp shade, a flowerpot, an old-fashioned TV antenna) to see if they make better headgear.
Taking inspiration from Jennie's experiments, pretend your house is a hat store and round up a number of possible toppers. Nothing cracks a baby up like the sight of you wearing a tea cozy on your head. A cardboard box, a plastic bowl, a pair of shorts or leggings, or a wicker basket can also do the trick.
As you put each object on your head, make a perplexed face at your baby and ask, "Do you like my hat?" For a real capper, sit your older baby in front of a mirror and put the silly hats on her head.
Following bright and colorful objects is becoming a favorite pastime now that your baby has a well-developed ability to focus up close. And nothing is more mesmerizing than the iridescent hues of fish in nonstop motion, making this an ideal strategy to help you catch your breath while on the go – stopping in for a break from errands at your local pet store, at the house of a friend who happens to have a fish tank, even while waiting to be served in a seafood restaurant.
Appropriate for: 4 months to 1 year
Skills developed: Visual
What you'll need: Access to a fish tank or aquarium
Hold your baby right up to the fish tank, so the fish are at her eye level. Follow the different-colored fish with your finger as they swim back and forth, helping her track them with her eyes.
Describe the fish to her, highlighting their differences: "See the big gold one? Watch that one going around in circles. See the tiny rainbow-colored ones? Don't they swim fast!"
Choose one easily identifiable fish, perhaps the biggest or brightest, and help your baby track it around the tank.
Explore her budding sense of "object permanence" (the concept that something still exists even when it disappears from view, which firms up at about 9 months), noting when a fish is out of sight and then pointing out when it reappears.
Remember: Each baby develops at a different pace, so if yours isn't quite ready for this week's activities, don't worry – just try them again in a few weeks.
Visit your 4-month-old, week 2 page