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Babies' Social and Emotional Development from 0-6 Months


mom doing yoga with baby lying on mat



Is it possible to spoil a baby with too much love and attention? No! In the first six months, especially, your baby will benefit from all the protection, support and attentiveness you and your partner can provide.

Research has shown that babies who are responded to quickly and consistently will flourish and thrive in every way. The first time your baby offers a genuine toothless grin or belly laugh, your heart will melt.

Social and Emotional Milestones


Here are some of the social and emotional
milestones to expect over the first six months:

First month:

  • alert one out of every 10 hours

  • enjoys eye contact

  • smiles at faces

  • recognizes parent’s voices

  • begins to trust caregiver

  • cries if under or over stimulated

  • persistent crying may start at about two to three weeks

Second month:

  • responsive smiling
  • communicates moods
  • enjoys visual stimulation
  • studies faces
  • personality becomes more obvious
  • cries for attention
  • persistent crying usually peaks in the second month

Third month:

  • makes eye contact

  • smiles at faces and may laugh out loud

  • knows difference between parents and strangers

  • stops crying when you walk into the room

  • persistent crying usually stops in months three or four

Fourth month:

  • laughs hard when tickled

  • greets caregiver

  • starts social gestures

  • may move arms to signal “pick me up”

  • enjoys social interaction

Fifth month:

  • turns head toward speaker

  • watches your mouth movements

  • shows interest in colours

  • pushes away disliked actions

Sixth month:

  • mimics facial expressions
  • exhibits moods with varied sounds and body movements
  • may be shy or afraid of strangers
  • responds to own name
  • raises arms to signal “pick me up”
  • likes own reflection

Play and Activity

Be sure to spend lots of time with your baby. Talk soothingly, sing songs, and look into your baby’s eyes - you will fall deeper in love. Here are some more tips for nurturing the social and emotional aspects of your baby’s unique personality:

  • Have skin to skin contact with newborns.
  • Always respond to crying within one or two minutes.
  • Don’t feel rejected if your baby turns away from you - young babies get tired easily.
  • Plan daily quiet times with your baby.
  • Don’t jiggle crying babies - use slow, gentle motions.
  • Don’t over stimulate your baby.
  • Copy your baby’s movements and sounds.
  • Rock and cuddle your baby.
  • Play with baby’s fingers and toes ("This Little Piggy Went to Market")

Social and Emotional Play and Activity

For more suggestions, see Leap BC’s guide Move with Me from Birth to Three. This trusted guide contains 40 fun filled activities to support your child’s development from birth to age three.

Last Updated: August 13, 2013