Your baby… Is there ever a sweeter bundle of perfection than your baby? You love your baby so much it hurts but do you ever wonder if your baby loves you? Of course, your baby needs you, but love? What are the signs that it is there, and your baby feels it for you instead of only needing you for care?
Before Birth Bonding
Your baby knows you before you even hold her for the first time.
In the womb she hears your voice, she feels, smells and hears you all before birth. Babies also hear their dad and others when in the womb. So, while your touch after birth is new, your baby already will recognize mom and dad’s voices after birth.
Is This Love Then from Birth?
Not exactly yet. A baby develops emotions as a result of bonding and having needs met. Like any human being as trust and a bond develop love grows.
Babies let their needs be known through nonverbal cues. They will cry or fuss when hurting, hungry or uncomfortable but other than this they are unable to verbally let you know what they need. So, a timeline of love for a baby may be something like this.
- Recognition of voice at birth
- Having needs met
- Developing trust
- Developing personality traits
- Expressing love
Since your baby already recognizes you from the womb, you will be who he looks to when he needs something. As you get to know your baby as the one of a kind person he is, you’ll notice patterns like a certain kind of cry when he is hungry or a look of discomfort or specific movement when needing changed. Bonding continues as you meet these needs. You do these things out of love and through having you do them your baby learns to trust.
According to Eric Erickson, a stage theorist, Erikson’s stages of psycho-social development states that trust verses mistrust is the first stage in human psycho-social development. Specifically, to babies this means that your baby learns to trust you because of repeatedly having needs met. This lays the foundation for the emotion of love.
Further emotion and bonding born of this trust comes from your baby’s personality development. Their brain is always growing, by personality and trust combing as it grows your baby will start to express affection and love in both general and individual ways.
Ways your Baby Shows they Love you Non-Verbally
Your baby without the ability to speak yet cannot say “I love you” but if you see your baby doing the following, she is showing you in ways she can that you are loved.
Your baby’s eyes follow you everywhere. He’s curious about what you’re doing. You’re the center of his universe and he wants to know where you are. A baby is always learning so his attention can be sporadic. There is so many things new to discover! So, when he is totally focused on you and nothing else is drawing attention away then it’s one way you can tell your baby loves you
Starts Copying You
Babies love to mimic your facial expressions. At first, they are only copying what they see on your face to learn but also because it can be fun. While we don’t know what exactly they are thinking it shows love because babies mimic those they are closest to. Through copying you they are also learning your emotions and that emotions are conveyed in different ways with different expressions. They don’t know what an emotion is exactly, what the word means but they learn that by copying they can express what they feel.
Now that your baby has mastered a few things through mimicking you they began to realize her I can communicate with my face! That’s a pretty exciting discovery for an infant, that they can communicate emotion or need by “starting the conversation.” Your baby shows he loves you and trusts you by expressing emotion or need with his face, cooing, whimpers, babbling, scrunching of facial expressions etc.
One great way you’ll know your baby loves you is that is a no longer just him communicating need or want. He’ll love to send time with you by interacting in play and cuddling. Games of peek-a-boo and “got your nose” results in genuine giggles, wiggles and joy. Baby is associating interacting with you or dad with being loved and loving you.
Attempts Verbal Communication
Now baby is not only copying your actions but trying to copy your words. She’s realized that some sounds show affection and feel good. She will coo at you, laugh, talk to you in baby gibberish or maybe even attempt to say actual words like I’ “love you” back although it comes out in gibberish. A good way you can tell if it’s “I love you” cooing is you can see in your baby’s eyes how much they love you.
Gives Shows of Affection
All this time mom and dad have been nuzzling, kissing and showing other physical signs of affection for their baby. At some point your baby gets it. Hey dad is telling me he cares when he kisses my cheek! When they learn this get ready for attempts at kisses and nuzzles of their own. Your baby will show love to you by touching your face, leaning in for a cuddle or firmly planting a “kiss” on your face or nose. They may not actually know how to do that just right yet, so you’ll get some slobber with that kiss, but it is definitely a sign of love.
Reaches For You and Returns to You
Eventually your baby is mobile and exploring the world. They’ll be able to go on their own terms by crawling, using a walker and eventually walking on their own. They’ll ask for affection and hugs by reaching to you to be held or to offer a hug.
As they explore, occasional ouchies can happen or a new discovery might be a little frightening those cases your baby shows love by returning to you for comfort. He knows you love him just as he loves you and by returning, he shows he feels safe within this love. By the same token your baby may be stressed when you leave but supper happy to see you when you return. This happens even if you’re only leaving the room or going on an errand.
As your baby continues to grow into toddlerhood and childhood the signs, they love you expand and continue. Your baby will continue to copy you, study your behavior and replicate it, and emerge with their own personality. One thing is clear though babies do feel love and your baby does love you. The process of growing makes it deeper and richer. The ways babies show love are a mix of normal human social development and the nurturing they receive. At some point you will have another sign of how babies show love. They’ll say it loud and clear “Mommy and Daddy, I love you!”