The Science Behind Your Baby’s Affection: How Infants Grow to Love

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The Mystery of a Baby’s Love

Even prior to birth, your baby starts recognizing your voice and experiencing the warmth of your affection. Usually, by around the fifth month in utero, a child can identify their parent’s voice. The key question however, is do little children feel love, and if they do, how do they demonstrate this love?

Babies and the Emotion of Love

Babies indeed feel love. Although it will take considerable time before they can verbalize their feelings, they are surely capable of understanding emotional attachment and affection. But one might wonder how babies develop a sense of love when everything around them is new and unfamiliar? The answer lies in the formation of a secure attachment. This entails a unique relationship involving the exchange of care, comfort, and pleasure.

Forming a Secure Attachment

This is a naturally occurring process in most cases where the bond strengthens as your baby realizes that they can depend on you for their needs. When they cry out because they are hungry, want their diaper changed, or feel uncomfortable due to temperature fluctuations, you show up. This sense of reliability forms a secure attachment as your baby recognizes that their requirements will always be fulfilled.

Establishing Bonds through Skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged from the very first moment. It not only makes your voice seem familiar and comforting to your little one, but the sound of your heartbeat also provides them with a sense of safety and comfort.

Baby Love Expression: How?

Babies express love through non-verbal cues, the depth of which is the same as verbal forms of expression.

From Eyes to Soul

Engaging eye contact is an integral part of the attachment process. Therefore, when your baby is awake and alert, they love to gaze into your eyes.

The Scent of Familiarity

Babies derive comfort from your scent which already becomes familiar to them even before they are born. They develop a keen sense of smell which helps them recognize you even when their visual capabilities are still underdeveloped.

Cuddles and Nuzzles: Symbols of Affection

Choosing to snuggle into your arms and chest is just as much a sign of a baby’s affection as it is for adults. It symbolizes trust, comfort, and emotional connection.

Babies Perceptions about Signs of Affection

Babies do indeed enjoy receiving hugs, kisses, and other endearments. These demonstrations of affection are vital in forming a secure bond.

Assurance of Comfort and Relief

“When a baby’s distressed and their parents respond, they develop an understanding that they can rely on their parents for comfort and relief, making them feel valued,” says Linda Gilkerson, Ph.D. and director of the Irving B. Harris Infant Studies Program at Erikson University.

The Age Factor in a Baby’s Love Learnings

Understanding that babies can express love and comprehend secure attachments is essential. Let’s further explore the social-emotional milestones of such development.

1 to 3 Months Old

During this phase, the baby develops a social smile. They also start expressing themselves through making faces and wiggling around.

4 to 6 Months Old

Babies of this age begin to mimic familiar facial expressions. You can expect to witness intentional laughs and little giggles of joy around this time.

7 to 9 Months Old

This phase is marked by ‘stranger danger’ where your baby usually prefers only you. Over time, they gradually get comfortable with new people.

10 to 12 Months Old

At this age, even without fluent speech, your baby begins to link words with the associated feelings. The cherished words are around the corner, following the mastery of ‘mama’ or ‘dada’.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do babies understand love?
    Yes, babies understand and feel the emotion of love, although they may not be able to verbalize it.
  2. How do babies express love?
    Babies express their love through non-verbal cues like gazing, cuddling, and responding to familiar scents.
  3. At what age do babies learn to love?
    Although feelings of attachment begin to form even before birth, clear stages of social-emotional development can be visible from the first few months after birth.