Social skills are one of the most important parts of a child’s development in life. A baby's social development is crucial to their wellbeing and happiness throughout their lives.
Your baby's ability to understand emotions, recognise the emotions of others, and communicate their needs during the first year of their life will astound you.
Long before they start talking, our little ones pick up vital social skills and from the moment they enter the world, they are attempting to communicate with us and understand us.
This is how your baby develops social skills over the first 12 months of their lives.
Birth to three months
From birth, your little one will enjoy social interactions such as being touched, held, talked to, and smiled at. As early as one month old, your child will watch your face and try to mimic your expressions and your gestures.
By three months, your baby will be watching what’s going on around and their vision will have developed significantly to aid this.
Parents usually see the first proper smiles at this age and your baby will be happy to indulge with big smiles and gurgles. "Smiles" before this age are usually accidents or gas!
Playing with your baby and chatting to them can help them develop their socialising skills even more.
Four to six months
You and your baby will have formed a strong bond by this time but your baby will also notice more people and try to interact with them as well, with smiles and babbling.
Many parents really enjoy this period as their babies can now express emotions and show love and affection towards their caregivers. Prior to four months, your baby was preoccupied with basic needs such as eating and sleeping but they begin to develop a wide range of emotions from here onwards.
Your baby may notice other babies this age and while they may try to mimic each other’s voices and smile at each other, the interactions won’t go any further than this for now.
Developing friendships or playing with other tots is not a top priority for your baby just yet as they have many more skills to learn.
Six months to one year old
From six months onwards your baby may become warier of strangers and new faces. They are most comfortable with those they know best and take more time to adjust to new people. This is how your baby figures out who they should trust.
They will also start to frequently babble, making a range of repetitive syllables. Your tot can also now distinguish changes in your voice and may cry if you speak to them sternly or in a low voice.
Between 10 and 18 months, babies can develop separation anxiety. Your baby now understands that you can occasionally leave them and this causes them to fret. Your baby may cry, throw a tantrum or cling to you. It’s perfectly normal and practicing brief periods of separation or developing a “goodbye” ritual can help your tot cope.