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The Birth of a Hug

There are the smiles and the giggles, but there's nothing quite as heart-melting as the first time your baby reaches up to give you a hug. Finally, she's giving back some of the love you've slathered on her since the day she was born!

Babies learn about hugs by seeing and getting them, so you might start feeling the love when your baby's as young as 5 months, says Susan Caudle, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and pediatric neuropsychologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. She'll quickly learn to hug Dad and other people she's comfortable around  -- as well as her stuffed gorilla, the cat, and anything else she adores.

Not all babies are wild about hugging, though. Some are naturally more affectionate, while others are just too busy exploring their environment to stop for a cuddle. So try not to take it personally if your baby isn't wrapping her arms around you. She might be more receptive to physical affection before nap- or bedtime, or while you're reading a book. These hugs give you something else to look forward to: Before you know it, your baby will be planting messy kisses on your cheek to go with them.