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Your baby's emotional development 6 to 9 months

6 to 9 Months
You are becoming the expert in knowing your baby’s likes and dislikes and how best to support her emotionally

Your baby at a glance

Your baby is often expressing joy, and starting to show clear emotional responses to different situations. During this stage you are likely to see your baby:
  • Smiling often and responding to others’ emotional expressions
  • Showing a greater variety of emotional responses to different situations
  • Engaging fully in what is going on around her, therefore needing a break from stimuli at times
  • Showing likes and dislikes more clearly, and may start showing some resistance at times
  • Feeling less certain around strangers, needing reassurance from you

Your baby's story

Close up of baby's faceYour baby is constantly building on his social skills, and you will probably see him responding to other people's emotional expressions, not just yours. His emotional repertoire is increasing, and during this stage she will be able to express several clearly differentiated emotions in response to language, gestures and situations (e.g. when playing peek-a-boo, losing or finding a toy). New emotions she will be expressing as well as experiencing are sadness and fear. You may see fear expressed in response to a stranger approaching, hearing a sudden, loud noise, or seeing a scary picture in a book when you read together.

Things can get too emotionally intense for your baby at times, which means he will need a break or slow down and he may need your help to do this. Signs to look out for include: Startling, looking away or at something else, yawning, crying or starting to suck his thumb.

As well as joyfully engaging in activities that she loves, your baby may start to give you some resistance in situations she enjoys less. If she shows anger, this will be towards the situation that frustrates her rather than towards you (or another person). She may also start to show a stronger reaction to strangers and start clinging to you when she feels insecure. She is differentiating between familiar and unfamiliar people, and this is the start of stranger anxiety.

What you can do to support and encourage your baby's development

Enjoy engaging with your baby’s joyful expressions, and notice what really tickles her. Through her growing emotional repertoire, she is showing you her likes and dislikes more clearly, so you are becoming the expert in how she tends to respond to different situations and how she likes to play.

You may naturally become quite protective and tender toward your baby if you see him becoming afraid. You know your baby best, so follow your instinct and do reassure him and show you understand his feelings. During this stage, as you notice what your baby is more sensitive to; it can be a good idea to introduce some new things slowly and sensitively. This brings a sense of security, and a good foundation for the development of effective emotional responses (how to deal with various emotions and situations).

Respond and help your baby when you notice signs of her being over-stimulated. Give her a break and slow things down for her. Change activity and do something you know she will find relaxing and that doesn’t involve too much interaction or stimulation. When you respond appropriately in situations when she experiences emotional 'overload', she is likely to show less distress overall.

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