At this age, your baby’s social circle isn’t very large. Of all of the friends, relatives, and strangers who drift in and out of her life, she really only cares about a few key people. And you’re one of them.
Throughout the day, she’ll make many attempts to get your attention and draw you into her world. Yelling may be one of her favorite tactics. When she screams for attention, the best thing you can do is give it to her. She’s not trying to manipulate you or make your life miserable. She’s simply turning up the volume on a basic message: She needs comfort and care from the people she trusts. Hold her close, say a few comforting words, and watch her anger, fear, or frustration melt away.
In her better moods, she’ll have other ways to express herself. She’ll use gestures to ask for toys or food, and she’ll babble to get your attention. When you act interested in her bah-bah-bahs and mah-mah-mahs, she’s bound to keep working on her word play. She has also learned to make different sounds for different situations. Listen to the tone of her voice, and you should be able to tell the difference between “I’m hungry,” “I’m tired,” and “Let’s play.”
Playtime is probably the highlight of her day. She’s starting to understand the concept of fun, and she’ll relish every chance to laugh and giggle. She enjoys seeing you laugh, too. When you have fun together, she gets the message that you enjoy being around her. So give her plenty of tickles and “kitchee-koos.” Show her the joys of “pat-a-cake” and “this little piggy went to market.”
Your baby’s newfound interest in fun and games can be a source of frustration. Like a toddler who can’t reach the cookie jar, she is surrounded by toys, books, and other interesting things that are beyond her grasp. Until she learns to crawl, she’ll depend on you to help her get the things she wants. Yes, she’s needy, demanding, and dependent. These may not be desirable qualities in an older child, but they’re completely normal, natural, and healthy for a baby.
She needs you, and she appreciates you. Watch her eyes when you cuddle together. She’ll gaze at you for as long as 30 seconds at a time. It’s the look of someone who’s deeply in love. And in her own way, she knows that the feeling is mutual.
Sears, William and Martha. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby. From Birth to Age Two. Little, Brown and Co.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five. Bantam Books.
University of Florida, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. How I grow: Months five and six. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/FY633
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