Your baby might not be able to speak yet, but actions speak louder than words. Make no mistake, the way she behaves tells you: ‘I love you, Mummy’.
Picking up on these signs is the key to a mutual appreciation society.
‘Babies show a preference by reaching out to a special person, making eye contact and smiling,’ says Jenni Renwick Smith, a chartered educational child psychologist. ‘Secure attachment is vital for a baby’s confidence.’
Babies start forming attachments from birth, turning towards your familiar voice and smell.
‘Babies show love from about 6 months, by cooing, smiling, and stretching out their arms,’ says Jenni. ‘By a year, they can discriminate between people they know and don’t know. They may become weepy when they see a face they don’t recognise.’
5 reasons why your baby thinks you’re special
- You smell just right. Babies are born with a keen sense of smell. Research shows that in the first five days after she’s born, your baby will recognise your scent and find it deeply reassuring.
- You give her food. Whether you’re breast or bottlefeeding, your baby will soon realise who to turn to if she’s hungry or thirsty.
- You make her laugh. By about six weeks, she’ll start to smile and by four months, she’ll be laughing and gurgling. Toys and pictures are fine, but what really makes her chuckle is another grinning face – especially yours.
- You praise her. Even in the first few months, she’ll respond to encouragement from her parents. If she’s feeding well or slept until 7am, let her know how happy you are.
- You’re always there. Your heart may sink when she wakes crying, but somehow you drag yourself out of bed. Knowing you’re there for her gives her confidence and helps build a bond of trust.
Q ‘My 11-month-old won’t come to me if I’ve been away for the day and clings to her dad.’
A It’s a power thing. Maybe your daughter feels rejected, so she rejects you in turn. Children express their feelings very directly at this age. She’s got no control over whether you come or go but she has got control over how to react when you return. Try not to let it upset you and act normally, maybe playing near her until she feels ready to come to you.
Q ‘My daughter wails as if the world has come to an end when I go out of the room for a few minutes. Help!’
A Look at it from her point of view – out of sight is still out of mind for her. You know you’re only going out for a few minutes but she doesn’t. When possible, take her with you or let her crawl after you.
When you leave, use the same phrase every time, like ‘bye bye, see you in a minute’, and another one like ‘hello there!’ when you return. Also, warn her you’ll be going out of the room soon and she’ll soon realise that she can trust you to be back.