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Build your baby's confidence with games and play

One of the best things you can nurture in your little one is self-confidence.

You do that every time you help your baby feel secure and special with love and attention. Babies also learn to feel good about themselves when they succeed at something new. Just think of their "I can do it" smiles when they pull themselves up. 

That's where the power of play can come in. What seems like a game—say, getting the jack-in-the-box to pop up—can help your wee one solve problems and feel capable. 

Ready to play with your budding problem-solver? Here are four activities for babies nearing their first birthday.

1. Finger art. 

Help baby practice fine motor skills—and discover their inner artist—with nontoxic finger paints. It will be messy, but fun. For a twist, dip the wheels of a toy car in the paint and let baby "drive" it over the paper. 

Rave at the results. Delighting in baby's accomplishments is a real confidence booster for them. 

2. Sticky ball. 

Roll up a wad of masking tape that your little one can grasp. Give baby the chance to touch it. "See how it sticks to your fingers!" Show them how to move the ball from hand to hand. 

3. Find it. 

Is your playmate alert? Then how about building your baby's thinking skills? As baby watches, pick up a toy and hide it behind your back. In a curious voice, ask, "Where did it go?" and see if baby points. 

4. In and out. 

Babies love emptying things. So fill a plastic bowl with a variety of safe objects—maybe a few blocks, measuring cups and soft toys. Help baby pick up the bowl, turn it upside down and fill it up again. 

Nurture baby's vocabulary too!

As you play together, talk about what's happening. "You found a block!" "Look at your pretty picture." Listening to you and connecting your words with actions help little ones learn language. 

Reviewed 1/19/2024

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