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When will my child start saying I love you?

When will my child start saying "I love you"?
Submitted by Parents Team

These are the words every parent waits to hear -- and the first time your child tells you she loves you is unforgettable. It usually happens sometime between 18 and 24 months, although at first your child may just be mimicking your own words. But eventually she'll come to understand what the words mean from the warm smile and voice you use when you say it to the way your face lights up when she says it to you. Once your child grasps the concept of love, introduce him to other feelings like happy, sad, and angry. The more a toddler can label his feelings, the more he'll learn to express and manage them. For example, if he starts crying when you turn off the TV, you might say, "I know you're sad because you'd like to watch another show, but you'll be happy when we get to the park and see our friends." --Leslie Gross Klaff

Copyright  2007. Used with permission from the December 2007 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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My youngest is 19-months and has been signing "I love you" for the last 4 months. Although she can't get her little pinky up, we still understand what she is saying. When she signs it she will give hugs and kisses. Teaching her sign language has really helped compared to her older siblings, who did not say "I love you" until well over 18-months.
Submitted by cmh799702
When my son was 17 months he started to say 'lala' for 'I love you'. and we loved he started saying 'I love you' at 22 1/2 months. He has just recently begun to say 'I love you- mommy, dadda, meme, and to just about anyone else.. It is great that he has personalized his 'I love you's'. He will be 2 in Feb.
Submitted by kmchappell08
My daughter has said it at 18mo though u cant understand it too clearly "ah wa oo" & its at bed time cause I say it to her EVERY night as I hold her then lay her down. Now at 19mo she will say it if I dint say it fast enough or just for me to repeat it. She does the holden on to ur leg and says, "mama, dada, sis or bro" as she hugs ya, I love that :)
Submitted by hannah_nannerhead
She's 18 months and only once said "Luv you" to my dad and hasn't said it since. She gives hugs and pats your shoulders and gives kisses to just about anyone and anything. She's very affectionate and outgoing. The first time she patted me on the shoulder I melted!
Submitted by C'smomma
My 18 mth old son has been saying "I love you" since he was 14 mths. I think a lot of it had to do with myself, daddy and grandparents repeating it so much!! (It's all about repetition right?!) He says it every now and then without prompting and gives us hugs sometimes or strokes our back. So cute!
Submitted by njtuncel
My son repeats I love you back whenever I or daddy says it to him. Sometimes you can't understand it very clearly, but I think now he knows what he is saying and will say it spontaneously! He is 18 months old. I don't know much about this, but I'm sure when a young one grasp the concept they are open to using those words or by their actions
Submitted by kevinanne2
my daughter is 19 months and she has said I Love You once, but whenever I tell her that I love her she smiles, gives me a hug and kiss.
Submitted by crystalsooter