Topic Overview

Emotional and social growth during the first year of life can be both
fascinating and exciting. As babies bond with their parents and caregivers,
their interactions become more personal and engaging.

Although your baby is unique and will exhibit his or her own
personality, most babies grow emotionally and socially in certain predictable
patterns.

  • At 1 month of age, infants express their feelings
    with alert, widened eyes and a rounded mouth. The bond grows between parents
    and their baby during this stage.
  • Around 2 months of
    age, your baby will have a “social” smile. That is a smile made with purpose as
    a way to engage others. Around this same time to about 4 months of
    age, babies develop an attachment to their caregivers. They more readily stop
    crying for familiar caregivers than for strangers. They draw people to them by
    making and keeping eye contact, moving their arms, and smiling.
  • By
    about 4 to 6 months of age, babies become increasingly social and love to
    cuddle and laugh. They become expressive and may “flirt” with their doctor or
    people across a room. Facial expressions now consistently reflect anger, joy,
    interest, fear, disgust, or surprise.
  • During the period between 6
    and 9 months of age, babies who are cared for in a loving and consistent way
    develop a powerful bond with their parents and other significant people in
    their lives. As this bond strengthens, babies learn to trust caregivers. They
    develop a memory and a marked preference for loved ones and begin to recognize
    others as strangers. Your baby may demonstrate fear and uneasiness around people
    he or she does not know, a behavior called stranger
    anxiety.
  • Around 9 to 12 months of age, most babies have a clear preference for special
    people and will show affection to them. Babies miss their regular caregivers when they are away
    and often cry, turn away, or otherwise react strongly. This behavior is called
    separation anxiety or separation protest. With the increased mobility that
    crawling allows, babies who are secure in their attachment to their caregivers
    become more interested in exploring the world around them.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD – Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD – Developmental Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017