A Comprehensive Timeline for Social Development of Your Baby

Photo Credit: jeanine&preston (Preston Smalley) from Flickr

Your Baby Changes Rapidly

The social development of your baby changes drastically over the first year of life. Your baby will respond to you from birth, and certain activities will help your baby build social skills. As your baby’s first birthday gets closer, your little one will be able to interact with you and may even say those first few words. All babies develop on a different schedule, and if you become concerned about your baby’s development, contact his or her pediatrician.

Social Development: Birth to Three Months

Your baby will not be able to see very far, but when you cradle your baby in your arms to nurse or feed him or her, your baby will be able to see your face. Your little one works on learning how to respond to you this month through coos, cries and smiling.

Activities: Hold your baby often, and respond to his cues immediately. You cannot spoil a newborn, so make sure to spend plenty of time interacting with your baby by singing, talking and cuddling. Some babies prefer to interact with you in shorter intervals, so look for cues that your baby is becoming bored or overwhelmed while you play or talk.

Social Development: Three to Six Months

Your little one can now see clearly and is becoming increasingly interested in his or her surroundings. Your baby is learning that he or she is a separate person from you. As your baby grows during these three months, you may notice that he or she tries to initiate social interaction with you.

Activities: Your baby will enjoy games like peekaboo and will begin laughing in response to something funny. Try making different facial expressions and see how your baby responds. Talk to your baby often, and explain what you are doing or where you are going. Even though your baby cannot talk back, he or she will absorb all of the information you share. Your little one may even respond to you by babbling (sounds that may include consonants and vowels strung together, such as mama, dada or baba.)

Social Development: Six to Nine Months

Your little one develops an awareness of his or her surroundings during this stage. Babies often become interested in other babies, even though they will not actually play with them. Some babies develop separation anxiety at this time. Your baby may become upset if you leave the room or if a stranger comes too close. Your baby may also laugh, smile or babble when you come into the room.

Activities: Play games with your baby, such as peekaboo or rolling a ball. Your little one’s social skills develop through his or her interactions with you, so be sure to spend plenty of time talking to your baby. Babies may also enjoy looking at their own reflection in a mirror.

Social Development: Nine to Twelve Months

Your baby is becoming more independent now. Babies often try to mimic actions of the people that surround them. They also try to use a cup and spoon by themselves. Babies often express both negative and positive emotions.  Babies may yell or cry if they drop a toy, and they may also smile or laugh when they learn to clap or wave.  Some babies will start saying those first few words during this stage, as well.

Activities: Encourage social development of your baby during this stage by continuing to talk to your baby. Babies can learn role-playing by playing with toy phones or kitchens. Wave to your baby and encourage him or her to wave back to you when you enter or exit a room.

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