Your Baby's Social Development 0-3 months
Your baby loves interacting with you. Talk, smile and keep interactions positive, short and frequent
Your baby at a glance
Your baby is born a social being. From the first day, you will notice her enjoyment in being held and touched by you, and she will love listening to your soothing voice as you talk to her. During this stage you are likely to see your baby:
- Enjoying and being stimulated by hearing your voice. He will love being spoken to and being touched and held
- Using crying as an important form of interaction with you
- Seeking comfort and safety
- Exploring her world using the five senses
- Sleeping a lot, and, whilst loving interaction with you, needing sleep after a relatively short period of interaction and activity.
- Starting to differentiate between objects, and begin to tell one face from another
- Starting to follow your face with his eyes when it moves
- Perhaps showing the beginnings of smiling and becoming more responsive to others
Your baby's story
You will find that your baby needs a lot of sleep in the early days of his life, but when he's not sleeping he will love interacting with you. He can be quietly alert, which is when he's very still and focusing on looking into your eyes, listening to you talking. Other times he can be more active, and you'll see him move more as he takes in what is going on around him, and he will make more sounds. His crying is also a way to interact with you, and he only means to try to tell you that he needs something (food, new nappy, sleep, cuddle etc). As your baby is enjoying interacting with you, he will sometimes feel things get very intense and will therefore look away for a little while. This is called gaze aversion. He will soon be ready to engage with you again though. Often after a period of interaction he will get sleepy and then drift in to sleep. Sleep is still an active state for him, as all the new things he takes in while awake is learning that gets consolidated during his sleep.
Your baby will soon be fascinated to hear her own voice and will increasingly practice making sounds when she's happy and content. During the first three months she is starting to show more interest in conversations between people around her, and may start to understand 'taking turns'. This means that when you talk to her she will make some sounds back to you, and then wait for your response.
You may see some smirks or smiles from your baby very early on, and he may be smiling as heís dreaming (or he may be experiencing stomach movements). But from about two months you can start looking for smiles that are directed at you and are a response to your smiles and chats. More and more, you and your baby will enjoy being animated and joyful with each other.
From the beginning, you are the focus of your babyís attention, and she loves listening to you and watching your face. Already as a 1 month old, she can start experimenting with making faces at you, and may imitate you if you stick out your tongue. Her ability to maintain eye contact with you will improve during these first three months. She much prefers to look at your face (and others around) than any object around her. This means that your baby already has some understanding of the fact that there are similarities between her and the people around her. During her first three months you will find that she increasingly enjoys imitating you and also loves it when you imitate her.
What you can do to encourage and support your baby's development
Your baby may try to imitate your facial expressions, for example if you stick out your tongue or open your mouth wide. This is an important start of social learning, and imitation is a tool your baby will use later for learning new behaviours. So, the more animated you are with your baby at this early stage, the more likely she is to copy what you do. Itís great for both of you to experience this early interaction.
Observe your babyís pattern and notice when he needs a break. He will prefer to interact with you while he is alert and active, or when relaxed but attentive. This early on he will get tired quite easily, and gaze aversion is one way of him telling you he needs to have a rest or even a sleep. In other words, itís good to try to keep interactions short and frequent, allowing your baby time to process and to rest. In addition, interactions and play during the first three months are best kept at a slower pace to give him time to focus and follow movements.
Towards 3 months your baby is likely to start being able to soothe herself more easily and therefore cries less. She is also crying less as she is starting to find other ways to communicate with you. A hot tip for when your baby does cry is to talk to her with a calm, soothing voice, as this can distract her and calm her down.
Some nice suggestions for interaction and play: 'This little piggy', 'so big', and of course nursery rhymes, reading and singing.