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Most Memorable Firsts: Baby's First Hugs

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

There is something about reaching the six-month milestone of a baby's life that is worth celebrating. Congratulations on making it past the "fourth trimester"! Hopefully by this point, you are into more of a routine, are out of the severe sleep deprivation days (if you're lucky!) and are seeing your baby's personality come to life.

Six months is also when babies start exploring their surroundings through semi-crawling, sitting, tummy time and of course, putting everything in their mouths. Or as I call it, Droolfest 2014. My baby could be the headlining act: There is a constant stream of saliva coming out of her mouth at all times, requiring regular bib changes and a never-ending supply of Kleenex.

What I love about this age is her recognition of familiar people and things. When her big brother is rolling around on the floor with her, she playfully grasps his arm; when her big sister is sitting behind her, she looks up and reaches for her hair. But the best part about this stage is her newest development: the baby hugs she gives. The grabby, drooly, hair-pulling hugs that start with her grasping hair from each side of my head, pulling my face to hers and then glomming onto my face with her open mouth.

It's as awesome as it sounds.

Although her "hugs" require a serious toweling off afterwards, they're so incredible because they're validation that all those sleepless nights were worth it. The months of night wakings, the constant worry and being clueless about what she needs all fall by the wayside when she reaches for me and knows who I am. My actions have taught her in her short life that I am someone she loves and trusts, and therefore wants to slobber on.

The first several months of a baby's life are filled with a lot of one-way interaction. You are doing the talking, singing, laughing, touching and hugging while baby is happily receiving these actions. But when these interactions start becoming a two-way street, parenting becomes even more fulfilling.

There are so many milestones to celebrate in a baby's first year, but of all the milestones thus far, these adorable, slobbery baby hugs have been the best. I may be singing a different tune when we officially hit the "sleeping through the night" milestone, but until that point, I'll take the hugs.

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