• These Milestones Are Just as Important as Your Baby's First Steps

    Here's an age-by-age guide to your baby's social and emotional skills.
    by Rachel Perez .
  • These Milestones Are Just as Important as Your Baby's First Steps
    IMAGE Tomwang112/Istock
  • Experts have proven that intelligence alone isn't going to get your child far up in the success ladder. It may be useful for reaping awards in school, but it's not enough in real life. Social skills and emotional intelligence play a big part in the overall development of your child. 

    New parents are often focused on their babies' brain development and gross and fine motor skills. But your baby's milestones also include social and emotional skills. Below is an age-by-age guide. Pay attention to his responses because it will help you spot possible issues early on. Keep in mind each child develops at his own pace. 

    By 2 months, your baby will:

    • start to smile and look directly at you
    • cry to get his needs met
    • be quiet when held or sees faces or hears gentle, loving and soothing voices
    • calm himself by sucking on hands/fingers

    Make your baby feel loved with a lot of skin-to-skin contact. Babies can't get enough of kisses, snuggles, and massages. When you change his nappy or feed or bathe him, make eye contact to build trust. Also, always respond to your baby's cries. Don't worry you're not spoiling her as long you comfort him promptly and consistently when he fusses in the first six months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

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    By 4 months, your baby will:

    • smile and play spontaneously with people
    • cry when you stop playing with them
    • adjust his responses to different people
    • express laughter out loud 
    • engage with you by imitating the faces you make

    He is engaging and responding to you more. So start narrating your day and your activities when you are with your baby. Show her the world, and it doesn't mean traveling out of town. A trip to the park or even a sari-sari store is already an adventure. Point objects out to him. Forming word-picture associations will benefit your child. Use big gestures to copy your baby's movements and the sounds he makes when engaging your baby; she may be able to copy them later on.

    By 6 months, your baby will:

    • become more aware of who's a familiar face versus a stranger 
    • love to play with others
    • respond to your emotions by smiling, laughing, and sometimes crying as well
    • enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror
    • enjoy watching other babies

    Your baby is showing a lot more emotions at this stage, so it's important that you're fully present with your child when you're engaging with her. Be careful not to overstimulate your little one, though. Include quiet times in his routine. Your child may start showing a little bit of personality so take note of his behavior. Observe his social behavior and play to his strengths like encouraging play dates if he enjoys being with other kids.

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    By 9 monthsyour baby will:

    • start to show stranger anxiety
    • cry when he or she doesn't see familiar faces
    • begin to show a preference for some toys
    • start to understand different emotions
    • respond to you when you talk or make gestures
    • not like being confined or restricted

    Keep your baby close when you're in a new environment, or he's meeting a new face including relatives he doesn't see regularly. Take it one step at a time when letting strangers approach your baby. Give him time to get comfortable p and familiar. They may show strong feelings of likes and dislikes so try to follow his lead whenever possible (i.e., when her safety is not at risk).

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    By 12 months, your baby will:

    • play favorites with familiar people
    • cries when mom or dad leaves
    • probably repeat sounds and gestures or hand you a toy or book to make particular noises to start an interaction
    • enjoy simple activities like patty-cake and peek-a-boo
    • put out arms or legs when dressing
    • engage in parallel play

    At this stage, it's important for you to acknowledge your child's feelings, even though he may not yet fully understand what you're saying. Say, "I see that you're happy," or "I know you're upset but..." You can start to offer him choices. Talk about not just what you're doing but also what happens next. Make storytime and other daily tasks enjoyable with your baby. 

    Sources: CDC, AAPChildren’s Therapy & Family Resource CentreHealthy Families British Columbia, Raising Your Child: The Complete Illustrated Guide by Jamie Loehr and Jen Meyers

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