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Getting ready to crawl, stand, and walk is a big challenge – all sorts of new muscles need to develop in those little legs. This kicking game develops gross motor coordination while your young go-getter's still "on the bench."
Appropriate for: 8 to 13 months
Skills developed: Gross motor
What you'll need: A light, midsize plastic ball
Kneeling or sitting on the floor, hold your baby in front of you (and facing away from you) with one arm around his chest and the other hand supporting his bottom so his legs stick out in front of you both. Place a ball directly in front of him and help his feet kick the ball forward, then move forward so he can propel the ball across the floor, like a mini soccer star. Cheer encouragingly every time his foot makes contact with the ball, and point out how far he's "kicked" it.
This makes a great game when you get your baby together with a playmate: The parents can position the players to face each other and kick the ball back and forth.
Where's That Noise?
Noise-making toys are such favorites because babies love to be surprised by unexpected sounds. Add the fun of peekaboo and you have an audiovisual guessing game.
Appropriate for: 7 to 15 months
Skills developed: Understanding of object permanence, hand-eye coordination
What you'll need: Several noise-making toys; a dish towel or small blanket
Show your baby a noise-making toy, give it a good noisy shake or squeeze, then cover it with a dish towel or small blanket and let him uncover it. Then cover it again and try making it squeak while it's still invisible – this is always good for a laugh and a rush to "discover" it. Substitute a toy that rattles, then one that makes a crunching noise or other unusual sound (you can make your own with a ball of waxed paper).
For the final act, throw a blanket over a portable media player, phone, or tablet, then play music. If nothing else has gotten a big reaction, this certainly will!
Note: Read the label on the toy to make sure it doesn't have any small parts your baby could choke on. The law prohibits removable squeakers and other small parts on toys for children under three years old.
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 8-month-old, week 1 page