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Social and Emotional Development for Infants 0-12 months

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Infants begin to develop trust when parents begin to fulfill their needs. Such as changing an infant's nappy when needed, feeding on request and holding them when they cry. Infants cry to express anger, pain and hunger. It is their way of communicating with the world around them.

Social and Emotional Development Milestones

From 0 to 3 months

During the first few months infants learn to identify and respond to their own needs and feelings, developing trust and creating a bond with parents and their new family. Infant's social and emotional development increases by becoming more aware of other people that are around them.

Milestones Achieved

  • develops a social smile
  • enjoys interacting with other people
  • uses facial expressions and body language to communicate and express themselves
  • imitates movements and facial expressions
  • makes eye contact when held close to adult
  • stares at people
  • sleeps most of the time
  • alert and preoccupied with faces
  • bonds with parents and family
  • shows excitement as parent prepared to feed
  • recognizes “mum” and “dad”

From 3 to 6 months

This is usually known as the most lovable age. At this stage, infants become more interested in the world around them and begin to explore their own body and the role of “self” begins to emerge in their mind. Infants will begin to show signs of emotions such as joy, anger, interest, fear, disgust and surprise as distinct facial expressions. Infants will also begin to laugh out loud for no apparent reason. An infant will socialize with people through babbling and hold conversations together.

Milestones Achieved

  • recognizes parents and familiar people
  • recognizes self in mirror
  • makes vocal sounds when happy
  • attempts to say words
  • laughs when tickled or amused
  • responds to name being called
  • becomes upset when needs are not met
  • uses facial expressions to show signs of emotions
  • moves head to sound of voices
  • becomes more settled in eating and sleeping patterns
  • laughs during social interactions
  • begins to self soothe when tired or upset by sucking thumb or dummy
  • show wariness of strangers
  • may become upset when parent leaves the room
  • happy to see faces they know
  • enjoys social play
  • interested in mirror images
  • responds to other people’s expression of emotion

From 6 to 12 months

A strong connection between an infant and their family makes them feel safe and secure. This provides a solid foundation for infants to build social relationships with others and helps to develop their trust in others. Physical love plays a large part an infant’s social and emotional development too. Infants enjoy receiving cuddles from family and familiar people. The closeness, the warmth and the body contact is very special for your infant. By bonding this will contribute on its own way with their social and emotional development.

Milestones Achieved

  • shy or anxious around strangers
  • cries when primary caregiver leaves
  • enjoys imitating people in his play
  • raises arms to be picked up
  • shows specific preferences for people and toys
  • prefers mother provider over all others
  • repeats sounds or gestures for attention
  • finger-feeds themselves
  • actively seeks to be next to parent
  • shows signs of anxiety or stress if parent goes away
  • offers toy to adult but does not release it
  • actively explores and plays when parent present
  • aware of verbal praise
  • enjoys familiarity of routines
  • develops separation anxiety
  • understand objects permanence
  • curious in other children
  • plays games such as “peek a boo”
  • gives and receives cuddles and affection

Every infant is different with their own unique personality traits. It is said to believe that an infant’s personality and characteristics as well as their ability to interact with others is a combination of what they are born with and the way that the infant is raised through their early childhood.

Last modified on Monday, January 5, 2015
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