1) She stares into your eyes: Newborns love to look at faces, and yours is her favorite. That soulful gaze is a hardwired survival instinct designed to attract love and attention from a caregiver, says neuroscientist Lise Eliot. But it's also the beginning of her love for you – she's realizing just how important you are in her life.
2) He talks to you: Your baby's very earliest coos will be directed at you or another trusted caregiver, says Eliot – he won't start by talking to himself. He'll use this early language (called protoconversation) to engage with you, so answer back! You're both laying the groundwork for real conversation later.
3) She wants you around: About halfway through your baby's first year, you'll notice that she's not happy with your absence. She may scrunch up her face or cry when you step out of the room, and she'll smile upon your return – a sign of her growing attachment.
4) He shares your interests: Whether it's a display of holiday lights or the dirty laundry, if you scrutinize it, your baby will do the same. Called mutual attention, this behavior can start when your baby is just a few months old, but it's more pronounced at 9 to 12 months. "It's a sign that your child is engaged with you and values what you're paying attention to," says pediatrician Harvey Karp.
5) She uses you as a shield: Don't be surprised if your baby buries her head in your chest when someone new appears on the scene. "Stranger anxiety" is a normal phase, and turning to you for protection means your baby loves you and trusts you to keep her safe.
6) He mirrors your face: Your facial expressions are more contagious to your child than the freshest virus at daycare. This is why he'll often smile when you smile or look anxious when you're afraid. This mirroring begins in the newborn period, but increases dramatically between the ages of 9 and 18 months, says Karp.
7) She takes her cues from you: How would your 1-year-old react to an elephant frying an egg in the kitchen? Chances are, she'd look to you. The world can be a confusing and surprising place for your little one, and she uses your reactions to make sense of it. She loves you and trusts your opinion.