1. He’s watching you
From the moment your baby is born, you are under surveillance. Your baby will not be able to take his eyes off you; he will follow your every move, ‘tracking’ you as you move around your home. That’s because from the moment babies are born they put a lot of effort into working out who the important individuals in their lives are. To do this they will stare as intently as possible at those around them, memorizing faces, which is why their eyes may widen when they recognize you, or, as they get older, they may move their arms and legs around as well, or coo and squeal with delight.
Studies show that right from around three days of age, a baby will prefer his mother’s face to a stranger’s face. And throughout a baby’s first year he will constantly seek out his mother and feel unsettled if she cannot be seen. “Babies are geared to be closest to their mothers because they have become used to her voice and smell before birth, during the last three months in the womb,” says Dr Evelyn McGregor, Lecturer in Child Development at Edinburgh University.
2. Smile and your baby smiles with you
It’s one of the most wonderful moments – when your baby beams a great big smile back at you. It’s a fundamental interaction and a huge milestone in being able to communicate, one of the clearest indications from your baby about how much you mean to him – especially because the biggest and best smiles are nearly always reserved for their parents. That said, it’s something you won’t really see until your baby is well into his second month.
With newborns, what you may think is a smile is actually more of a grimace, a reflex reaction or a response to wind, rather than an indication of pleasure. However, by four to six weeks, when it comes to smiling your baby will have really got the hang of what it’s all about. And the more eye contact and interaction you have with your baby, the more he’ll flash his gummy grin. By the third month, smiles will be second nature: whenever you talk, sing or play with your baby you’re sure to be rewarded with smiles and the odd gurgle of true joy. And by four months, just the sight of you will make your baby grin broadly.
3. He plays copy cat
“Babies copy people they love and admire,” says (is she a pscychologist? Prefer not to give her website a plug pls) Pat Spungin, founder of a parenting website. Your baby shows this in a variety of ways, such as imitating sounds, gestures, and facial expressions. When you hold your baby close and talk to him, he may open and close his mouth in a direct imitation of what you’re doing. And even if you’re doing something mundane such as the washing, you will find that your older baby will want to join in.
He will try and put things in the washing machine, he may attempt to sort out the socks, and will definitely want to sprinkle soap powder everywhere. If you’re happy with this, encourage him and heap on the praise. Every time he manages to copy you by putting the square block through the square hole then there should be all-round rejoicing. You are your baby’s most important teacher; he trusts what you do more than anyone else, so bring it on and encourage the copying. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.
4. Your baby tries to chit-chat
Even from a very early age, babies are trying to constantly talk to those they love most. Some newborns start making cooing noises, mainly to their parents, before the end of their first month, while others don’t get going until three months. By cooing and babbling, babies are not only expressing themselves, but are trying to communicate with you. “Your baby wants to be part of your world and often makes these sounds when your face is close to hers,” says Dr Evelyn McGregor, a lecturer in child development at Edinburgh University. “Babies like eye contact, being face-to-face with their mother and communicating with her.”
And it’s very much a two-way thing: babies love the sound of your voice, so make sure you keep your baby fully briefed on all that’s going on. Talk to your baby constantly – when you go for a walk point out the trees, when you’re at home fill them in with all the minor details of who’s coming, what day it is and what’s happening. Imitate the noises your baby makes and have a pretend ‘conversation’. Chunter away to your heart’s content. Even though it might sound strange to everyone else, you and your baby understand what’s being said and he’s telling you in no uncertain terms that he loves you!
5. You’re his favourite comforter
If your baby sees or hears something unfamiliar, the first thing he will do is turn to you for reassurance. When he’s feeling frightened and apprehensive, you are the one person who can soothe him and alleviate his distress. All babies like to be held and cuddled by the people they know best. They enjoy the warmth of your body, they are reassured by the sound of your heartbeat and they feel secure being held tightly in your arms. Nothing will comfort your baby as much as your voice and touch.
This is why your baby will always seek you out when he needs comforting – and there’s very few people who can fulfil this role. Your baby will seek comfort by crying or, as he gets older, by crawling towards you. At around five months, you may find he stretches his arms out to be picked up by you, and will stare straight at you. He will show, in very obvious ways, that he craves your affection and that you are his favourite form of comfort.