Playtime: Tickle time

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Learning While Playing

Playing with your baby may seem like all fun and games -- shaking rattles, squeaking plush animals, and watching as your child tries his chubby hand at rolling a ball. But make no mistake: What looks like downtime is work to little ones, and toys are often the tools for getting the job done.
Break open a book, make a silly face, cuddle while cooing, or tickle your little one's toes. Not only are you baby's best playmate, you are "the teacher of your baby's brain,"
 
Here's what to do: 
A baby's skin is supersensitive (and irresistibly touchable), so now's a great time to help her explore the world through her sense of touch. Gather items with a variety of interesting textures, like cotton balls, feathers, tissues, a comb, or any piece of fabric. Then place your baby on a blanket on the floor — or on her changing table or in her crib — and gently brush the objects across her tender tummy, leg, or cheek. Your running commentary makes this game even more interesting, so talk it up. ("Isn't this soft?" "Doesn't this tickle?") You'll probably be able to tell which items are her favourites by her excited kicks and coos. 
  
This game will likely be a favourite all through her first and second years of life. (Don't be surprised if your baby starts suggesting tickle-me items on her own by the time she's about a year old!) 
  
Here's why it's good for babies: Tickle time promotes body awareness and social development as well as tactile stimulation. Plus, it gives you a chance to practice responding to your baby's cues and body language.