My baby seems to brighten when I enter the room; does she recognize me?

Your baby has known your voice since before birth—her sense of hearing developed in the womb in the second trimester. Although it may not be obvious to you, she’s been watching and listening ever since. And now she’s developing more ways of showing that she knows who her parents are.

At first, your baby may seem to bob her head or wave her arms a bit when you come near. She perks up and may seem more focused or interested as you approach. She already associates your presence with food and calming—no wonder she’s happy to see you!

Then at around 6 weeks, your baby will likely flash her first social smile, an intentional expression that’s different from the involuntary smiles you may have seen earlier as she slept. Soon she’ll begin to show you a big gummy grin whenever she sees you. Like other types of body language, your baby’s smile is a key part of communicating—in this case, her pleasure. It’s a big developmental step as she gains more tools (besides crying!) to tell you what she’s feeling.

In fact, her displays of joy and her smiles are practice for talking later on. Consider this: When your baby smiles, what do you do? You probably smile back. This, in turn, makes her smile even more broadly. These exchanges may seem simple but they follow the turn-taking pattern of human conversation. It’s just one example of how milestones build on one another.

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