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Timely tips for the proud owners of a new bundle

BABIES don't come with instructions. But fortunately for new parents, there are many sources to turn to for answers - grandparents, friends - and the bookstore. One new book on the market comes from Johnson & Johnson, a familiar name in the baby products field. ``From Baby to Toddler,'' edited by John J. Fisher (Perigee Books, New York, paperback, $9.95, 368 pp.), bills itself as a ``month-by-month guide.''

The volume tracks in a general way a child's development from newborn through 24 months. It covers both the nitty-gritty of baby care - things like diapers, bath time, and bottles - and also the kind of behavior a parent can expect to see as the child grows.

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``From Baby to Toddler'' is broken up into chapters, each covering a single month. The chapters begin with a general summary of what a baby might be doing that month. Of course, babies are individuals and can't be pigeonholed, but the information is still useful.

One of the book's strong points is a section in each chapter called ``Growing through Play.'' The solid information, ideas, and activities should be of interest to parents who want to know more about the kinds of toys, games, and play suitable to a child's growing abilities - ideas like batting practice for a 2-month-old, fun kicking games for a 3-month-old, and simple puzzles for a 19-month-old.

One parent-child activity the book suggests is a ``touch tour'' for a 4-month-old. Try carrying your child around the house on a ``tour,'' stopping often to let him or her feel many different textures - the fabric of a curtain, water rushing over his or her hand, the bristles of a hairbrush, and so on. This can also be done outside in nice weather - with stops in the garden, by a tree, etc.

A ``Research Update'' section concludes each chapter and takes a look at recent findings by experts in the field of child development. There is also some medical information.

``From Baby to Toddler'' could be a useful addition to a parental bookshelf.

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