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How Baby Games Can Enhance Intellectual Growth

From patty cake to peek-a-boo, the more interactive activities your child engages in with others, the more potential she has to expand her intellectual growth. From developing motor skills to enhancing brain power, games are a fun way to keep her mind sharp. Expose your little one to new information and discover how games not only keep her giggling, but also intellectually stimulated on a day-to-day basis.

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Engage Through Sight, Sound, Smell

Your baby is seeking out new information through her senses at all times. Playing games, such as "I Spy," which uses the sense of sight, or "Telephone," which targets the sense of hearing, with your child will keep her actively engaged, says Dr. Maria Miller, Florida-based pediatrician with Oviedo Pediatrics. Play a smelling game with older babies by lining up a few items for sniffing: an orange peel, some mashed banana, a flower. Wave them briefly beneath baby's nose and name the object. These sensory games can help her recognize sights and sounds, and develop a stronger sense of smell.

Learning Through Touch

Stimulate your baby with games that prompt him to touch and feel objects. As an infant, your child begins to reach for bright colors and shiny objects. Create games to encourage this behavior, recommends Miller. Offer a variety of baby-safe objects -- the sound of a musical shaker or rattle will make touching irresistible; baby toys that crinkle when squeezed are another baby-pleaser. As baby touches each object, touch it with him and name the texture. "Soft," "fuzzy" and "smooth" are some you might use. These hands-on games stimulate your child's brain and motor skills.

Word Recognition

"A parent's voice, touch and presence is the best way to stimulate intellectual growth," notes Miller. Playing games and singing songs as you are doing daily tasks can help your baby learn to recognize words and syllables. Speak clearly and explain routines. "Instead of being quiet during a diaper change, try saying 'Mommy is changing your diaper. One day you will go to the potty on your own but until then we will make sure you are nice and dry,'" Miller recommends. Your child will soon associate words with tasks when you playfully sing or talk to him as if each task is a game.

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Observational Learning

For children, playing and learning are one in the same, according to the website of Dr. Bill Sears, author and associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. As your child stacks blocks, he is involved in a problem-solving and decision-making process. Facial games that include making funny faces or fun with puppets also teach your child to recognize emotion, move his face, make gestures and even stick out his tongue. He is learning how to respond to stimuli and observing your every move with each game.

Photo via George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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