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    Watch Baby Grow -- But Not Too Closely

    Watching baby grow

    One in a Million continued...

    And you can pretty much ignore the daunting array of products designed to jumpstart your tiny tot's development engine, experts advise. A few simple items may help baby advance; see a list recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics: Baby, Let's Play.

    But the best thing you can do in these early months is simply get to know your baby and her unique temperament, and give her all the love, closeness and attention you can.

    Research shows kids will be more self-assured and smarter for it later on.

    Hey, Mom and Dad, Look at Me

    "Infants who are held, who have their needs responded to quickly, actually do better, are more self confident, more independent and exhibit greater success in testing," says Dr. Deborah Campbell, director of neonatology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

    Talking, playing games and establishing daily routines are great ways for your child to learn about the world -- and you.

    "Breast-feeding has been a huge bond and a big part of how I connect with him," says Susan Karp of Wilmette, whose son William is 9 months old. "But even looking out the window, going for a walk, or nighttime rituals, like a little bath and reading stories, are good. You don't need to have black and white toys and baby Mozart videos."

    He'll Grow Out of It -- Maybe

    Some parents may feel silly carrying on a conversation in the grocery store with a 2-month-old, who can only gurgle in reply as you read the nutritional values from a box of Nutri-Grain Bars. But make no mistake about it, kids are sponges, emphasizes Dr. Kessler.

    In fact, there's a lot to be said for the good company. "I talk to myself out loud all the time, so it's nice to have the baby as an excuse to not look like a total lunatic," Karp laughs.

    If you are concerned that your baby isn't developing the way she should, your doctor should take your worries seriously, says Dr. Kessler. "Too often a pediatrician will say, 'Don't worry, he'll grow out of it,' or 'He'll talk when he's ready,' but reassurance without something real ... addressing the concern ... is misplaced."

    Most of the time, those cliches are true: He will grow out of it. But trust your gut and be persistent if you really believe there's a problem.

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