Social and emotional development: Building baby’s social skills
When should my baby start socialising with other babies? And what can I do to help?
Even newborn babies prefer seeing a human face than anything else, so being sociable is in their nature from word go.
Social development between the ages of 9-12 months can feel like a little bit of a rollercoaster ride and your baby may sometimes show two different personalities. One who's outgoing and affectionate and another who's clingy and anxious around unfamiliar people or surroundings. Here are some pointers to help your baby thrive in this phase.
When does socialisation begin?
Experts say babies start to take social cues in the womb. Such as being able to recognise their mum’s voice, and after birth they respond to “baby talk”. Any interaction between baby and you is a form of social interaction and helps baby’s language and cognitive development.
By 9-12 months your baby will start learning all about how to express themselves and their emotions - a key part of their social and emotional development.
Can I help my baby socialise?
Your baby is learning to social from a young baby so there’s nothing specific you need to do. Being around you, your family (and siblings if they have them) all helps to develop your baby’s social skills. Up until they go to nursery, this is the centre of many babies’ socialisation.
In order to be social with other babies, does my baby need to be around other babies regularly?
When they’re very young, babies don’t need to be around other babies for socialisation. Don’t feel your little one needs to have regular play dates with babies their own age to help them develop social skills. Being around other babies of a similar age can help in other ways though. For example if your little one hasn’t started crawling yet, being around a baby of a similar age who has can encourage them to give it a go.
Can baby classes and play dates help?
Any new environment, such as nursery or baby class, can help your baby learn about new social settings and they can benefit from learning to trust and accept help from other adults and new social situations.
What if my baby seems shy?
Shy babies and toddlers are quite normal and more often than not, it’s nothing to worry about. Even toddlers are still very immature when it comes to their social skills, after all, they are often used to spending most of their time with mum and dad and maybe siblings but as they get more used to being around different people the more sociable they tend to become. It's estimated that one in five cases of shy toddlers can result in your child remaining shy but that will just be their personality. But don't label your child as shy and don't discuss it when they're around. It's far more helpful to just say "she takes a little time to get comfortable with new faces and situations."