Not all babies develop socially at the same time, and not all will need support with developing the same social skills at the same time. Read about reasons you should join mother and baby support groups and help your baby develop socially.
Baby’s and toddler’s love other
baby’s - put a bunch of them together and you can find hours of entertainment
just watching them beginning to interact with each other.
Your baby’s social development is
just as important as their cognitive, physical and emotional development and
mum and baby groups are a great way to help support all development stages with
your baby! It’s also a great way for new mums to get advice, tips, share
struggles and get out of that too familiar feeling of ‘getting it wrong’.
Not all babies develop socially at
the same time, and not all will need support with developing the same social
skills at the same time. How and what your child develops will vary depending
on a number of factors, including their age and whether they have siblings at
home. But it’s always helpful to know what the normal social development skills
are by different age groups.
do we mean by social skills?
Social skills refer to all the ways
in which we communicate with each other - verbal and nonverbal. For babies this
How they react when they see you- by around four months old your
baby should be happy to see you, will smile and may become needy if you move
away from them.
How they react to other people- especially people they don’t know.
From about 6 months your baby may be unsure and quieter around new people as
they try to see how they interact with them.
Engaging with their surroundings- your baby should notice other people
in their environment and from around 6 months will likely be babbling and
making noises along with others in ‘conversation’ with them!
Engaged with social activities - the most noticeable time you will
see your baby engaging in social activities is at mealtimes - it can be
surprising to see how much they know is going on! Baby’s love being included in
this social activity and being included as part of the family to sit down and
eat at meal times.
sort of social skills will my baby develop?
As mentioned above, mum and baby
groups are great for a number of different reasons - not just helping your baby
develop socially. Later on as your baby grows, this type of social scenario may
develop into ‘play dates’ which are a key part of growing up! Early social
interaction through these types of groups can really help prepare baby’s for
later play dates, and eventually pre-primary and primary social interactions.
Some of the key social development
skills mum and baby groups can help to develop include:
Teaching empathy - babies learn best through imitation and you will
often notice that as your baby grows they spend a lot of time studying facial
expressions and people. It’s not uncommon that if one baby is crying, other
babies will start crying too - even if they don’t know why! Being around other
baby’s as they experience and learn new things, helps your baby to develop
Personal Space - this one becomes more important as your baby grows
and reaches toddlerhood. While your baby may be used to climbing all over you,
their siblings and other family members, not all people/baby’s will like this!
This type of social development is good to learn around other babies, and mum
and baby groups allow baby’s a good space to learn about being around one another.
Social overtures - as mentioned above, baby’s love to learn through
imitation and love being around other babies and children - through this style
of social interaction they have a safe space to observe, learn and experience
other babies and how they engage with the world around them.
Sharing skills- this one might be more important for baby’s
without any siblings! Sharing is a key social skill amongst children and is an
important skill to start teaching early. Mum and baby groups are great way to get
your baby used to playing with other children and sharing toys too.
are the later stages of social development by age?
As babies, their social skills can
be relatively basic and based more on imitation and engagement over anything
else. As your baby grows and develops further there are other social skills and
social skills they will start to show.
2-3 years old- your toddler will be able to initiate basic
conversations, look for and at who is talking to them and wait their turn to
respond in conversation. They will also likely have developed a bit of a
mischievous side and find silly scenarios and objects funny.
3-4 years old - by this age, your toddler will likely be a little
chatterbox - including giving voices to toys and making up games and
conversations. They will do this with other children and should hopefully be
happy taking turns and sharing toys.
4-5 years old - by this age your child should be happy giving
instructions to other children, play role-play games, and use general social overtures
appropriately such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
can I find out about mum and baby groups in my area?
Once you start looking you will
probably be surprised by the number of groups you can find - and it’s important
to try a few to make sure you find the right group where you and your baby feel
comfortable. It’s just as much about you making friends as a new mum, as well
as your baby’s development.
Some great starting points to find
local mum and baby groups include:
Your midwife- can probably recommend a few well-known and popular
Community centres- usually offer a full range of groups from music
and dancing, to crafts, to general soft play and toy get togethers
Art galleries and museums- more often this places are encouraging
mums and babies through the doors with events just for them
Facebook - facebook is a great source not only for mum and baby
meetup groups, but also for chat groups and other baby related events. There’s
a whole host of mums networking and sharing advice and tips and is a great
resource for any new mum.
As with all of your baby’s
development, there is no ‘set’ stage by which they should be doing everything.
Mum and baby groups should not be about comparison or making you feel bad if
your baby hasn’t achieved a certain skill when other baby’s in the group have.
They are designed to be a supportive, happy and safe place for mums and baby’s
alike to get together and share in the joy of parenthood.
As always, if you are concerned at
all about any aspect of your baby’s development - social or otherwise - always
speak with your doctor of midwife who can reassure you and make sure further
tests are done if needed.
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.