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Even before he's eating solids, your baby sees you using utensils and becomes curious about them. Help acquaint her with the spoon a little early by playing these games with some milk or formula, or use them for variety once you've introduced cereals.
Appropriate for: 5 to 10 months
Skills developed: Being spoon-fed
What you'll need: A baby spoon
Though you probably know about the tried-and-true "airplane coming in for a landing" trick, there are endless variations. A good one for surprise value is "rocket, landing on the moon": Hold the spoon down below the table or high-chair tray, then bring it up quickly but carefully (as close to vertical as you can without spilling the contents) and gently place it in your baby's mouth just as you say "moon."
Or use a horizontal move to bring the spoon into your baby's field of vision as you say "here comes the racing speedboat" or try using an up-and-down bobbing motion to introduce a "whale swimming in the ocean."
Some babies are particularly partial to choo-choo trains (make a "chug-a-chug-a-whoo-whoo" sound as you bob the spoon along) and leaping dolphins (a dramatic arcing move sure to make a "splash").
Nature has primed babies to focus on faces from the moment they're born, and there's nothing as riveting to a baby as an expressive set of eyes, nose, and mouth.
Studies have shown that babies recognize and remember faces better than adults do. (They'll focus longer on a standardized representation of a human face than on any other shape, which is why so many baby toys have simple faces on them.)
Appropriate for: 5 to 9 months
Skills developed: Visual recognition
What you'll need: A hand mirror and a flexible face
Make a game of your baby's fascination with faces by making a few of your own.
Sit down next to him when he's propped in a car seat, bouncy seat, or stroller or lying on his back on the floor. If he's in a stroller or seat, position yourself at eye level. If he's on the floor, bend over or lie down next to him so that you're more or less face to face.
Start by slowly changing your expression, going from a smile to a surprised look to a sad or pouty expression. Then move through the expressions again with a pause in between each one, and wait to see if any elicit a response from your baby. (When he's older, your baby may try to mimic you.)
Use a hand mirror to show him his own expression, describing it as you do: "Oh, don't you look surprised! Look what a happy baby!"
Or make one of your own faces in the mirror, tilting it so he can see both you and the mirror image.
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 5-month-old, week 1 page