Tips for Tots: Expressing Love to your Baby

By Anne A. McGrady

As we move along in life, we as adults often find difficult times communicating with babies. Since babies can’t talk, adults often find themselves with the inability during their own childhood to communicate nonverbally.
An opportunity then arises when you have a baby or grandbaby to relearn this skill.
Experience of all kinds with the world of sights, smells, feelings, tastes and sound is necessary for baby to learn to make order out of his/her world. Your baby will feel loved, safe and secure through all different ways of communicating without talking to your child.
Of all the sensory stimulation baby will experience, touch is particularly important because the skin is the largest part of the body, and through it baby experiences his first communication with other people.
Early experiences with feeling and touching can help the baby develop the capacity for being “in touch” with his/her own emotional reactions to his/her experiences.
Tips on how you can communicate with a baby:
• Eyes and General Facial Expressions — Provide opportunities several times during the day to look at your baby eye-to-eye and smile at him/her with your whole face. Baby feels this love you are expressing. If you fail to look at him/her in the eye and if your face is unsmiling and tense, you communicate these feelings to him/her.
• Voice — If your voice is gentle and soothing and full of joy and love, your baby will feel this, too. If your voice is filled with frustration and anxiety, with anger and annoyance, or in a sarcastic manner or you hardly speak to him at all, your baby will sense the negative feelings your voice is carrying and saying.
• Touch — Touch is the most important avenue of communicating with baby. All the love you feel for your baby can be expressed to the baby through your body movements. This tells baby you love and care for him when you handle baby with gentle and secure holding, tender caresses and affectionate stroking. If your movements are tense, abrupt and jerky handlings, this gives baby another message—one which tells baby this is not a secure and comforting place to be.
Baby knows only what he feels and he takes each feeling as a direct message to him/her. It is very important therefore that you be aware of your own nonverbal behavior when you interact with your baby.
This does not mean you will do irreparable harm if you handle your baby roughly or speak impatiently to him/her, but it is harder to undo feelings of insecurity. So, when interacting with baby, let baby know how much you really do love him/her through your mannerisms and behavior reflect well the feelings you really have for baby.
Happy Valentine's Day!

“Big Hugs, Little Hugs,” by Felicia Bord. Philomel Books, 2012. 3-6 years. Adorable illustrations and brief text show many different ways to hug.

“I Love You for You,” by Karen Wagner. Palm Publ. 2012. Board book. 1-4 years. A book that celebrates unconditional love between a parent and child. Sweet rhymes and beautiful illustrations help children develop self-esteem as they discover they are special and loveable. Easy download e-book and original song.