One of the things you love doing most - looking into your baby's big, beautiful eyes and making silly faces - has benefits for her as well. That's because early visual stimulation - whether it's seeing human faces or the nursery wallpaper - serves two important purposes for an infant: It helps develop eyesight, which matures by age 2 and activates neurons in the brain that help set up the framework for learning and language skills.

Robert Sanet, a San Diego-based optometrist, suggests that parents expose their infants to bold, bright colors in contrasting patterns (a black-and-white panda bear or a red-and-white rattle, for instance); keep a night-light on in the baby's room, so that she can look around when she wakes up; and change the stuffed animals and pictures that are within her view - or, if possible, move her crib every few weeks, so that she has something new to look at.Dist. by United Feature Syndicate Inc.