Infant Social Development: Everything You Need to Know
Babies are born as social creatures. They start to collect information and connect with the caregivers right from their earliest days.
It’s natural for parents to worry about the social development of their infant. Are you a new parent with questions about your baby’s social development?
We’ve put together this article with everything you need to know about your infant’s social development, including behaviors to look for and activities to help continually promote their growth.
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Infant Social Development Timeline
Let’s look at different stages in an infant’s social development and activities you can do with them to help nurture them as they grow.
From 0-2 Months Old
A baby’s social development begins as soon as they are born and constantly absorbs information from the world around them. It might appear that for the first two months of their life, all they do is an endless cycle of eating, sleeping, and pooping. They are starting to learn about their world through interactions with their caregivers.
A baby’s instinct to suck remains intact, and sucking is critical for babies to eat, grow, and self-soothe. In addition, self-soothing is an essential factor for a baby to be able to sleep through the night.
You might observe other self-soothing behaviors: holding their hands together, rubbing their eyes, and stroking their faces, ears, and nose.
Encouraging self-soothing early in your baby lays the foundation for them to trust their ability to comfort themself as they grow older. For example, you can try swaddling your baby and giving them the ability to touch its face. Or stroking their hair gently while humming softly to them are great ways to nurture self-soothing.
Babies will also start to recognize and interact with their caregivers by gurgling, cooing, and smiling.
Activities for Social Development in 0-2 Month-Old Infants
Here’s a list of social activities for you and your two-month-old.
- Rocking, cuddling and giving them loving attention
- Playing peek-a-boo with them
- Rhyming and reading books
- Singing songs
- Making silly sounds and exaggerated facial expressions
Don’t overlook tummy time! First, you must talk to your pediatrician to understand your baby’s needs and the best approach to tummy time. This critical activity starts at the hospital and will continue for their first year.
Activities like reading books, singing, and talking to them during tummy time are great ways to develop their communication skills. In addition, you can provide them with fabrics with different textures during tummy time to help them with sensory development.
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From 3 to 6 Months Old
Starting at three months old, babies will begin to want to sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is excellent news for sleep-deprived parents. However, there’s no need to panic if your baby isn’t at this stage. Every baby develops at its own rate, and some may take longer to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep without a parent nearby.
Every interaction between a baby and their caregiver will help forge a deeper bond and help to develop their sense of security and safety. This feeling is crucial so they can start to grow and explore.
Activities for Social Development in 3 to 6-Month-Old Infants
Let’s look at some great social activities for you and your three to six-month-old.
- Talking and responding to your baby’s smiles and coos encourages them to understand two-way communication.
- Babies can’t get enough of looking at themselves in the mirrors at this age. It’s a great activity because it is engaging and lets them see their facial expressions.
- Have fun and make silly faces and noises with your baby and then pause and let them mimic your expressions.
- Hold a toy or a mobile above them and let them try and kick it. You can also start pedaling their legs like they were riding a bicycle.
From 6 to 9 Month Old
This period is when you will see the social development in your baby start to take off, as well as when their personality and temperament begin to show.
Babies start to babble, pronouncing single consonants like “ma” and “da,” and even begin stringing them together. They might also recognize their name and start to express their emotions.
Separation anxiety is expected during this period as they start to comprehend object permanence and that things continue to exist, even when out of sight. This anxiety can be stressful for new parents.
Still, the best thing to do is be loving and compassionate to them when you return to help alleviate their distress.
Activities for Social Development in 6 to 9-Month-Old Infants
This period is the time to help develop their concepts of language and communication and object permanence.
- Play the name game by pointing at objects like parts of your face and labeling them like daddy’s nose or mommy’s ears.
- Play hide and seek with toys or peek-a-boo to help your baby grasp object permanence.
- Talking to your baby from another room is another excellent way to help them understand object permanence.
- You can also continue to read to them and also practice sign language with them.
From 10 to 12 Months Old
As your baby gets to be 10 to 12 months old, they may start to mimic actions like blowing kisses, waving, and talking on the phone. They can also understand simple concepts like yes and no.
Babies this age are eager to play, but they might be clingy and fearful of new places, faces, and situations.
Once again, reassuring them and giving them loving attention is the best way to help them cope with their distress.
This age is also the point where many babies begin to increase their understanding of your words and start to express themselves more.
Activities for Social Development in 10 to 12-Month-Old Infants
Here are some fun activities to do with your 10 to 12-month-old.
- Singing repetitive and interactive songs like B-I-N-G-O, Old MacDonald, and Hokey Pokey to help improve their receptive and expressive language skills.
- Performing shadow puppets is a great way to interact with your baby and support their newfound communication skills.
- Play the name game with a mirror and let them mimic you labeling things like facial expressions and emotions.
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Have Fun With Your Infant’s Social Development
Babies are social creatures from the moment they are born. Spending time with them, interacting with them, and playing games are the best ways to help their social development.
Not every baby develops at the same rate, so be patient with their progress and don’t worry about getting too caught up in artificial benchmarks.
The first year of your baby’s life is about loving and nurturing that help grow their sense of security, trust, and optimism.
By engaging with them daily, snuggling with them, and talking to them, you’ll help put your baby’s social development on the right track!
Related: Why Does My Baby Cry So Much?