Emotional and Social Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months
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
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.
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
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.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.