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How to Raise a Smart Baby

Confused by the sheer number of smart baby toys, books, and videos? Relax. All your baby really needs to boost brainpower is you.

Smart Babies: Toy Tips

While experts agree that toys can be a great way to help foster the growth of your baby's brain power, the sheer number of companies hawking for a parent's attention can leave you dizzy with indecision.

Sandra Gordon, mother of two and author of Consumer Reports Best Baby Products, says the key is to choose both toys and activities that track with your child's natural biological stages of development. When you do, she says, you're speaking a language your baby can understand.

She also recommends simple toys that are age-appropriate so they don't frustrate your child. Infants, she says, are most interested in movement and sound, so shaking a rattle or a key ring will stimulate them. As they get a little older, she recommends textural toys they can touch and squish in their hands, such as stuffed animals.

"By 9 months of age, play with your child with shape-sorting toys and puzzles and hide another toy inside a nesting block to see if your baby can find it. This adds the element of surprise and builds on the concept of object permanence," says Gordon.

Indeed, experts say any toys that stimulate curiosity, rely on interaction between your baby and the object, or use colors or shapes to intrigue or teach can be a big plus.

At the same time, you also don't want to overwhelm your baby with more than his or her biology is ready to absorb. "It's key to plan activities that engage your baby at every developmental point without overdoing it," says O'Donnell.

Smart Babies: What to Do at Every Age and Stage

To help you home in on what you can to do to encourage your baby's brain development at every stage of growth, our experts helped WebMD put together the following age activity guide.

Age: Birth to 4 months

Read; make silly faces; tickle the body; slowly move objects in front of your baby's eyes, like a brightly colored rattle; sing simple songs and nursery rhymes with repetitive phrases; narrate everything you and your baby will do, such as "We are going in the car now; we are putting you in the car seat; Mommy is getting into the car."

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