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Girl Talk: Bonding With Faraway Relatives

Q. My in-laws live 12 hours away, so we rarely see them. How can I help my 6-month-old son develop a bond with them?

A. While familiarity breeds contempt in adults, in babies it breeds contentment, so you need to make your in-laws as familiar a presence as you can.

Displaying lots of photos of your in-laws -- especially in your son's room, on the fridge, or in a plastic-page baby book  - will make them part of his surroundings. Point to the faces and say "Grandma and Grandpa." Soon your son will be able to identify them on his own.

Another great way to foster a relationship is via phone "conversations." As your mom-in-law coos at your son, he may respond by trying to eat the receiver, but, believe me, her voice is seeping into his memory. I tried this with my own son and thought it was a fruitless exercise until we visited my parents. When my son heard my mom's voice, he smiled in recognition.

One more thing. If you and your in-laws both have a computer that can be rigged to a video phone (Apple makes one, called the iSight camera; $150), you can combine face time and phone time for virtual bonding. But whatever your preferred method, you can rest assured that your baby will know his grandparents well before he can ask them to sneak him some candy.