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Love and relationships: Games, activities and actions that show your baby love

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February offers up a chance to really explore love and relationships as Valentine's Day arrives. The Houston Family Examiner recently had the opportunity to discuss family relationships and the importance of parents showing children love with ESCAPE Family Resource Center Chief Programs Officer Nicole Huff. Don't just wait for Valentine's Day to put a whole lot of love in your child's heart.

Huff shared with the Houston Family Examiner that in the first year, infants go through an incredible amount of cognitive, social and physical development. Holding and touching your baby develops bonding, learning to trust, and even helps your baby grow. Hearing language and music encourages development of both sides of an infant’s brain. Below are ways to show your baby love in ways that have a positive impact on their future.

ESCAPE recommends these ways to show love to your infant to 12 months:

1) Spend time holding your infant
2) Kiss and caress your infant
3) Gently massage your infant. Seek out a class in the community on infant massage.

Texas Children's Hospital Pavilion for Women offers Infant Massage classes. Times and dates vary so be sure to register early.

4) Say, “I Love You” to your infant.
5) Read, sing, and talk to your infant.
6) Respond to their cries and comfort them.
7) Hug your infant for no special reason.
8) Play games that will enhance your infant’s brain development.

Not sure what games to play? Enfamil offers this helpful list of games and activities to help you bond with your child while playing with them and building their brain's development.

9) Read books or attend parenting classes that discuss bonding and attachment.

Amazon offers a number of books on bonding and/or attachment. You can also visit your Harris County Libraries for more books on parenting as well as child development.

Subscribe to the Houston Family Examiner as we continue talking to ESCAPE to learn more ways to connect with our children and put a lot of love in their heart. Our next installment in this series will include ways to work with your toddler aged 12-24 months old.

About ESCAPE: Founded in 1983 by the Houston-area chapters of The National Exchange Club, ESCAPE Family Resource Center is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization that began as part of a national project dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect in local communities across the country. It relies on private support to prevent and combat emotional, physical and sexual violence towards children. According to ESCAPE CEO Lidya K. Osadchey, in fiscal year 2013, the organization collaborated with 93 organizations to provide 363 deliveries of child abuse prevention programs and parenting classes in 81 locations in Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Chambers and Liberty counties in English and Spanish. In the last 13 years, ESCAPE has increased its program delivery from 116 to 375 and increased the number of parents and children who benefit from these programs from 2,316 to 5,515.

ESCAPE is committed, both locally and globally, to providing child abuse and neglect prevention programs, court-ordered and CPS-approved parenting classes, parenting support groups, parenting tips and professional training tools that anyone can use to develop positive parenting and co-parenting, appropriate discipline, anger management and conflict resolution skills.

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