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How Babies Show Their Love

You know you're the center of your baby's universe, but for the first few months, he doesn't exactly show it -- so it's a thrill when he starts to let you know you're his one and only. These displays of affection are a good sign that he's securely attached to you, says Martha Farrell Erickson, Ph.D., former Harris Programs director in the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. How your little one shows you the love:

2 MONTHS: Smiles at you. By now, your baby will aim his first social grins (not the gas-induced ones) at faces that are becoming familiar, like yours.

4 MONTHS: Imitates you. Pucker up or stick out your tongue and he may try to mimic your moves, a reflex that becomes more intentional as he figures out that you love it. The more animated you get, the more he'll copycat.

7 MONTHS: Raises his arms to be held. Once he has the motor skills to grab for his favorite toys, he'll start grabbing for you, too.

8 MONTHS: Wails when you hand him over to the babysitter. Yes, it's heartbreaking, but separation anxiety shows he prefers you to others.

11 MONTHS: Says "mama." The combination of easy-to-make sounds and a desire to name what's important to him means "mama" is often among babies' earliest words. (Try not to worry, though, if "dada" or even "dog" comes first!)

12 MONTHS: Gives you a kiss. Around his first birthday, your baby finally has the motor and communication skills to respond to your smooches. His won't be perfect -- he may forget to close his mouth -- but no matter what, those first efforts show that he thinks you're pretty special.

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