Interacting with your baby is essential for supporting her emotional—and even physical—health. But that doesn’t mean you need to keep her constantly engaged and entertained. Both of you need a break occasionally. And for babies, downtime provides a much needed chance to process a flood of new sights and sounds, explains Amelia Miller, MD, infant development specialist at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
Learn to recognize the cues that your baby is ready to play and learn.
Play with me:
• Bright, wide eyes
• Calm, watchful demeanor
• Arms or hands reaching out
I need a break:
• Looks or turns away
• Fussy or agitated demeanor
• Covers face with arms or hands
A game to grow on
Variations of peekaboo are played by parents across cultures, and for good reason. The simple game takes on new dimensions as your baby grows and develops.
0 to 4 months: While your little one’s vision is still blurry, peekaboo gives her a chance to practice focusing on the thing she loves to look at most: your face.
5 to 8 months: Playing peekaboo reinforces your baby’s budding awareness that objects continue to exist even when she can’t see them, also known as object permanence.
9 to 12 months: Your baby might initiate the game with you. She’s learning to predict outcomes (first you’ll hide, then you’ll say, “Peekaboo!”) and to take turns.