How-To build strong social skills in your baby

Social skills in your baby – Do you want your baby to grow up to a happy, confident young a man or lady? Do you worry about your baby not being socially active? What can you, as a parent, do to develop healthy social skills in your baby?

You have come to the right place to know ins and outs of giving the best to the baby to develop strong social skills.

Socializing skills are very important. They should be practiced from an early age. There are multiple activities you can do with your little bundle of joy to develop social skills in your baby.

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Introduction – Social skills in your baby:

Socializing is a very important skill for all individuals. Parents should implement some of the basic skills in infants. This will build a strong foundation for social skills in your baby, which will later be very beneficial as a kid or an adult.

All parents want their child to be confident and be able to interact with others without sweating. Hence, babies should be raised in a healthy and happy environment to develop strong social skills.

We will touch about the outcomes of right and wrong ways of parenting and its effects on social skills in your baby.

What is Social Development in Infants?

Social skills in your baby is very important. It includes building a positive relationship with other kids. This special social skill can be thought from a very early age. As a matter of fact, babies are born with social development skills, but they need help to get them recognized.

With that said, social development exits from the age of newborns. It is readily seen in many ways. For example, they tend to copy their parents’ expressions, or they will try to copy the motion of good-bye or the learn to stick out the tongue just like you.

Furthermore, you will notice a load of curiosity inside them. As the baby gets older, they want to hear and see everything in the house. For instance, “Who shut the door or Who is going outside the room”?

These little things indicate that the baby does have the ability to be curious about his surroundings. Also, he is naturally born with basic social skills. You will have to only take this innate ability and nurture and build these social skills in your baby

Social Development Milestone in kids – Age wise

There are several intertwined areas of development when it comes to social and emotional development. 

Development such as social interactions with other children of their own age or with adults. They also include how they interact and participate with others. These include taking turns or helping their friends, playing together or following rules and being part of a group. 

While your child is at it you would also start finding that along with social interaction emotional development also plays a part. 

In emotional development your child is happy with the others they are playing with or sad or angry or upset. They sometimes might get into a fight when they are trying to express their feelings or sometimes you find them empathising with their friend and try to pacify and console them. 

All these point to emotional development in your kid while they are building their social development skills. And slowly you will start seeing that your baby also starts to self-regulate in socially appropriate ways.

Where they express their feelings or opinion or thoughts in socially appropriate ways so that they can live to the spirit of the friendship and all the group’s rules and participate in the activity.

Below are given the broad outline on how social development happens in a child. These are indicative and each child development and progress is unique and varies baes on lot other factors they are exposed to,

0 to 1 year

  1. Around 6 to 8 weeks you will start noticing that your baby looks at you and makes eye contact with you. These are initial signs of social skills in your baby.
  2. Around 6 to 12 weeks your baby will respond to you and throw in a smile at you. Your baby recognises faces and is happy to see familiar faces.
  3. Your baby around 4 months might try to copy your movements or expressions. E.g. you clap to your baby your baby might try and imitate your clapping movement. 
  4. Your baby recognizes their own name. and response when called by their name.
  5. Around 6 to 12 months your baby’s social skills of interacting with you keep progressing and now you would find your baby showing excitement and appreciation when they are greeted by family members. 
  6. Their imitation skills are developing and they might signal you to want to interact with them and cry when you don’t interact with them or are distracted. 

1 year old

  1. Can follow simple instructions and directions when given.
  2. Show signs of independence and like to try and do things on their own.
  3. Develops joint attention where your baby points at something and turns and looks at you to check if you are also seeing it. And important step in social skills in your baby.
  4. They also show interest and curiosity when they meet a new person. They are still very wary of strangers and will not socialize with them. However, they would stand right behind you and observe them and watch how you interact with them.
  5. Your baby by now knows few of the games that you play with them. they also would have communicated on their own way with you the games that they like to play with you. They might be constantly inviting you to come and play with them their favourite games.
  6.  They make the first steps to participate in games that need turn taking. Like waiting for their turn to press the button.

2-year olds

  1. Playing becomes work for your kid. you would find them engaging themselves and playing alone most of the time.
  2. You can also find that when you place two toddlers next to each other they land up playing on their own sitting next to each other than with each other.
  3. However, they might keep an eye on the other kids sitting next to them and what the other kid is playing. Sometimes they might adjust their own play to imitate the actions of others playing around them. 
  4. They try to imitate or mimic others. Especially adults or bigger kids. 
  5. This is also the age where you find your little one and imitates a lot of what you are doing in their play. Pretend play is one of the plays they engage in. Like feeding their doll or serving tea. 
  6. They also extend their social interactions to their immediate environment. they might take more interest in watching the plants or animals or insects in the garden. Their learning progresses to understanding the environment and exploring the same.
  7. They show much more independence in their task and can also lead to them saying NO to you or being defiant. 

 You might be interested to read our article 20 Important Things Children Learn by Observing You.

3-year-old

  1. They are still happy to play at home. Also, they are open to sit next to their peers and continue to play on their own.
  2.  But you will find that their social skills have developed much more and along with it their observation and imitation of what their peers are doing who are sitting next to them and playing also increases.
  3. They are able to participate in group games with simple rules. games that need to be played along with other children.
  4. They also start using objects with symbols to represent something as part of their play. This type of play is their own interpretation of what they see around them.
  5. They start to develop some ideas about themselves. What is theirs and what they like to share or not. And with whom they like to share and for how long. 
  6. When you let them freely in a park you will also find that they choose children that they would like to play with. When the other kids do not live up to their comfort levels, they quickly drop the friendship and resort to playing by themselves or choose another partner to play with.
  7. They even start to form friendships and call out the names of their friends. Will also start to play and interact and empathise with their friend’s feelings. They might feel sad if their friend falls down. Or happy if their friend achieves something. 
  8. They like familiarity and routine and show least resistance when day progresses as per schedule. 

Read the following articles to know more about importance of play.

Why should you start early with developing social skills?

Research has shown that when children have strong social and emotional foundations. And when these foundations start getting built very early in life it has a huge impact on the child’s attitude and behavior later on in their life. This in turn affects their academic performance, the career choices they make and over all their adult health and wellbeing. 

You might have experienced that the bonding that you have with your baby is almost instantaneous. It is not just you getting attached with your baby but you would also find that your baby responds and is bonding with you. So, bonding and the need to connect with others is an innate need.

And when you have positive interactions with your baby you are starting to lay a solid emotional and social foundation in your baby’s life.

As per Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development; personality developed in a series of 8 stages. We will cover the first 3 stages in the scope of this article as it points to development from infancy to around 5 years of age.

Stage 1: Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust (Hope). 0 till around 18 months to 2 years

When done right: When as parents we lay a positive foundation social skills in your baby at this period, we will find our baby developing security bonding positive outlook or basic optimism. They develop trust in their caregivers. 

When badly handled: And when we fail during this period your baby might start developing characteristics of insecurity, fear and mistrust.

Important Note: One of the basic needs at this stage is the way you attend to your baby’s needs. Such as feeding or attending to when they cry.  

Our articles Why is my Baby Crying? Tips to calm your crying Baby and 12 Baby Body Language that You SHOULD Know can give you more insights.

Stage 2: Autonomy Versus Shame and doubt (Will)). 2 to 3 yrs

When done right: Around this time, you will find that your child tries to show signs of independence. And as parents when you nurture and guide them well when they show these signs of Independence. You would see that your child will emerge from this state being confident and proud of themselves.

When badly handled: But when being parented badly you will find that the child becomes increasingly insecure and unsure about themselves. They doubt their own abilities and might even Express a sense of shame in their capabilities.

Important Note: One of the basic needs at this stage is potty training. The way you go about handing the training and how you react to the accidents of potty training. All build the sense of autonomy or shame in your kid.  You can know more about potty training from our article 11 Simple & Effective Tips for Potty training your baby.

Stage 3: Initiative vs. Guilt (Purpose). Around 3 to 5 years.

During this stage you will find that your child starts to interact with other children and play. 

When done right: When the social interactions are encouraged and nurtured you will find that your child starts broadening their skills of social development by participating in a group, cooperating with others and playing using their imagination and interacting with others. 

They also learn to regulate their emotions and answer appropriately. They tend to lead in some activities and tend to follow in few of them. All these lead to healthy social development skills and your child starts building friends and is more open and confident in social interactions.

When badly handled: When this stage is handled badly, they become fearful of social groups. Don’t get fully involved and shy away from making friendships. Clingier to adults and restrict their social and emotional growth. When they become aggressive or exert too much power they are met with disapproval from the group and land up with a sense of guilt.

Our article 11 Simple & Effective Tips for Potty training your baby can be of good read for you.

Important Note: One of the basic needs at this stage is to explore (Friendship, environment, new things etc.). If you are someone who restricts them to socialize or go out and explore their environment because you are being too cautious or fearful. You will land up passing these traits to your child. Be open and appreciative of their imagination and their need for exploration.

6 Effective tips for building social skills in your baby

Babies tend to learn social skills naturally. However, you can encourage these skills with the following activities.

Read, Play and Sing.

It may sound simple and you may not feel that there are many outcomes from these activities. However, these simple fun activities go a long way in developing strong social skills. Reading, Singing, and playing not only helps develop social skills, but it builds a very special and strong bond between the baby and the parent.

The happy atmosphere of singing and playing makes the baby feel happy and promotes a healthy growth both physically and mentally. Remember, babies do pick up the parent’s mood, so you want to give positive and happy vibes to your baby.

Related articles

How to Read to your Baby: 7 Simple Techniques

12 Everyday activities that WILL impact baby’s development

Benefits of singing to your baby

Give warm and caring responses

Although your baby is not able to talk, he does give lots of signals and body motions of being picked up or hungry or just want us to play. Providing a warm and comforting response to the baby’s needs will let the baby know that he is cared for.

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Maintain the same routine of the day

Babies like it when they know what is next in the schedule of the day. This will result in little or no crying. It will comfort the baby letting him know that some particular thing is next. Haphazard schedules will only lead to a cranky and unhappy baby.

Know your baby’s favorites

Parents should concentrate on the preferences of the baby. Maybe your baby doesn’t like to sleep on her back or wants to be held till he falls asleep. Whatever he prefers better.

Respond to the baby talk

At some point, the baby will start talking in his own baby talk. The best way to respond to these talks is to nod and say things as if you understand the baby completely. This boosts confidence to try out new sounds and makes the baby happy. Know more about how to talk to your baby from our article How- To TALK to your baby ~ .

Strangers need to be accepted

Around the age of 9 months, babies get scared of new faces. This is not quite normal. The best and healthiest way to tackle such a situation is to practice letting go of the mommy. Talk to the baby that mommy is going outside the room. This will let the baby know that it is ok if she doesn’t see mommy’s face and instead sees someone new.

Additionally, more walks to parks or the play dates will eventually wash over the anxiety of seeing a new face.

Take the baby outside for some exploration

Healthy activity is to take the baby outside for some fresh air and learning. Point to the baby and say a bird or a tree. It will build up the vocabulary and it may even encourage the baby to say these words in his baby vocabulary. Also, the bay will learn to do copy the hand motion from you.

Don’t miss to read our articles…

5 Good Socializing Activities for Infants

Parents can play lots of games with their little ones. It is a great way to build a strong bond with the baby and gives many benefits to the baby’s physical and mental growth.

Furthermore, it develops many social skills like taking turns, being nice to other players, cooperation, and teamwork. These activities are excellent in every possible way.

Take turns passing the ball

IT can be played with one parent or some other babies like on a playdate. Sit with you baby in a circle with other babies with their moms and pass the ball to one another.

Peek-a-boo

Cover your eyes with your hands and say peek-a-boo. When you say boo, open up the hands show those big eyes filled with excitement. With enough session of play, you will be able to hear lots of giggle noises.

Pretend Games

Pretend games with a car or a little cartoon character will surely let out more giggles front he baby. This is an excellent game where the parent can mimic the sound s of the character and play out a short role to engage the baby.

 Play “where is the baby?”

This is a fun game that you can play with your baby. Say out loud “where is baby?” and then say “here he is!” this enjoyable game will surely make the baby let go of some giggle sounds. He may even make some kind of noise to let the parent know his presence at “where is baby?”

Act out the nursery rhymes

There are some fun and excellent acting out games out there. For example, Baby Shark or The Finger Family are just some of the poems. These poems are not only fun to hear, but a great way to make the baby learn some of the hand or finger movements.

Signs that your baby is not Socially Developing

Some babies do not socially develop. There are some signs that you can keep an eye out for. If you see these listed signs, then you should seek a psychologist or speech therapist.

  1. The bay is not responding to the sounds.
  2. The baby is not smiling or responding to you the way she should by the age of 9 months.
  3. Avoids eye contact.
  4. The baby cannot self-soothe by the age of 9 months.
  5. The baby shows no interest in social games like peek-a-boo.
  6. By the age of 12 months, the baby shows no interest to the kids of her age.

Conclusion

Taking care of the baby might be challenging at some point. However, it is essential to let the baby grow in a nice health environment. Moreover, parents should play with the baby and do healthy and fun activities to promote the development of social skills in your baby.

All these inputs and steps and initiative that you take one day at a time with your baby goes to form a solid foundation for social skills in your baby. And your baby will be thankful for these to you in later years.

God Bless!!..

Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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1 Response

  1. Mignon Scharmann says:

    i love this optimal article

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