Ga-Ga for You: 6 Ways Your Baby Says, “I Love You” (Before She Can Speak)

Photo by Jamie Grill Atlas / Stocksy United / 1668709
Photo by Jamie Grill Atlas / Stocksy United

By Cheryl Flanders

When your toddler squeaks out his first semi-clear “I love you,” (or “wub you, Mama”) it’s a warm, fuzzy, glowing moment like no other. But well before that first verbal “I love you,” babies offer plenty of evidence that what they’re feeling for you is indeed love, love, love. Here are six sweet indicators that you’ve won your baby’s heart completely:

1. Soulful Stares

Meaningful looks are a good indication your baby is connecting emotionally with you. Infants love to gaze into faces, and she already knows your voice from her time in utero. Once she matches your face to your voice, she’ll only have eyes for you. 

2. Flirtations

Have you seen your baby’s eyes light up when he catches a glimpse of you? Or have you seen him coyly look away and then shoot a smile your way again? There’s more to exchanges like this than you think—your baby is flirting with you, trying to keep your attention because he’s attached to you. Flirt back to show him the feeling is mutual. Exaggerated face-to-face interactions are a special part of the love bond between you and your child.

3. Magical Smiles

Baby grins are endearing, for sure—but that special smile your baby saves for you is truly amazing. Why? It’s inspired by her love for you. When she looks around at unfamiliar faces and then spots you…that’s when magic happens. She has associated your face with feeling cared for, comfortable, and loved, and she loves you for it in return.

4. Coos

If you’ve heard one of these musical murmurs, that means you’re pretty special in your baby’s book! His earliest communication isn’t handed out to just anyone—at first, he will only coo and interact with those he trusts the most. Go ahead and babble right back! Not only will he feel encouraged and loved from your efforts, all those sounds will eventually help build the language skills he needs to say his first “I love you.”

5. Separation Anxiety

Does your baby cry when you leave the room and smile brightly when you return? That’s her way of letting you know she wants you around more than anyone else. Sure, those baby cries can be painfully shrill, but it’s a normal stage of attachment—and it does pass eventually. But until then, take heart knowing that you’re her number-one, all-time favorite person!

6. Smooches

His scrunched-up nose and pushed out lips are likely to plant a wet, sloppy smooch on whatever part of your face is closest to him, but it’s guaranteed to make your heart melt! Those first kisses mean he’s been paying attention to how you show affection and wants to return the gesture. The action may be difficult for him at first, but his effort shows the depth of his love for you.

As you and your baby continue getting to know each other, your attachment will grow as well. Remember that you’re at the beginning of the love story of a lifetime—enjoy!

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