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  1. Bottle feed your toddler, no matter what the age. Encourage eye contact by gently touching her cheek. DO NOT let her hold the bottle. Nourishment has to come from parent(s); be sure to hold her when feeding.
  2. If she turns away (avoiding eye contact) try placing a large mirror across from you. That way, when she turns away, she will see herself in your embrace.
  3. Continue to hold her in your gaze. It may take a long time for her to glance at you. When she finally does, be ready with a warm, loving, approving smile. This sounds little but is really big and pays big rewards.
  4. Encourage eye contact by gently tapping the bridge of her nose and yours as a hand signal to look at you.
  5. Play peek-a-boo.
  6. Have the baby pull a sticker off your nose - and put it back.
  7. Hold the baby in your arms and dance with her - a very synchronous activity.
  8. Swim together.
  9. Paint each other's faces with paint, powder or just pretend.
  10. Play musical nose - sing a song and let your child pinch your nose so you sound very silly. You stop singing if she breaks eye contact.
  11. Play musical swing - put child in a baby swing. Face her as you push. Encourage eye contact by singing a song and stop if she looks away.
  12. Fill your cheeks with air. Have child "pop" them.
  13. Put lotion on each other.
  14. Ask her to feed you. This works great with raisins, Cheerios, or popcorn.
  15. Give Eskimo kisses - rub noses and stare into each other's eyes.
  16. Play in front of a mirror. Make faces, painting Mommy's face, trace each other's faces on the mirror with washable marker, finger paint, shaving cream. Let your child be your puppet and make her dance. Make dolls dance. Any kind of game that gets your child to relax and meet your eyes in the mirror will likely get her relaxed enough to meet your eyes directly.
  17. Instead of using an actual mirror, take turns being each other's mirror. Sit face to face, and have your child imitate every facial movement you make, and vice versa. Then try it with your whole body, mirroring each other's movements.
  18. For an older child, try lip-reading with each other. While you're not really getting eye contact, you're at least looking at each other's faces.
  19. Play a memory game with a more personal touch. Have your child look you over carefully. Then leave the room and return after you've changed something about yourself. See if she can figure out what is different. It could be something really obvious for younger kids, like taking off a sweater, but for older kids you could do something more challenging like buttoning one more button on the sweater.


From THE HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION MEDICINE by Laurie C. Miller. © 2004 by Oxford University Press, Inc. Used by Permission.


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