From his first smile to his first friend ― here’s what to expect from your sweetie’s developing social skills…

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Your baby’s developing social prowess is quite incredible to watch. You’ll be charmed by his first smile at you, and your heart will melt when he first tries to give you a hug.

Through his interaction with you, your little one will pick up social skills that will help him to make friends and connect with other people in his life. Here’s what to expect in his first year and beyond…

0 to 6 months

• Your baby is born a social creature ― he enjoys being cuddled, held, talked to and smiled at from the get-go. Your sweetie’s social development begins with his first cry and when you lock eyes with him.
• By the first couple of months, he’ll already be able to distinguish your voice from other sounds. He’ll likely stop moving or turn his gaze to you when you talk to him.
• Try sticking your tongue out at your munchkin. You’ll be surprised that he might mimic you. Imitating facial expressions is just one of the ways babies learn how to get along with others.
• As he reaches his sixth month, he’ll get more and more excited about meeting new people ― even greeting them with a wide gummy grin or a squeal. While he may notice other babies, he won’t be interested in playing with them just yet.

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6 to 12 months

• Babies this age usually have a goal in mind when they communicate. You might notice that certain babbling sounds refer to specific requests, like she would like to be or she wants her milk bottle.
• She’ll also start gesturing and using her body language more. For instance, she’ll nod to say “yes” and wave to say goodbye. She may even say simple words like “mama”, “dada” and “dog”.
• During this period, your peewee may seem to have a split personality ― affectionate and outgoing with you, but anxious and clingy around unfamiliar people. This is the start of separation anxiety, which is when she develops an awareness that you could (and occasionally would) leave her.
• So, don’t make a fuss when you do have to leave her. Get her caregiver to distract her with a new toy, then leave after saying goodbye. Her tears should subside within minutes of your departure, since she’ll turn her attention to the person staying with her.

Click through to read about your tot’s first foray into playing with his peers!

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12 to 18 months

• That little baby in your arms is now up and running, a curious and energetic toddler on the move. He might start to resist when you set limits ― a sign of his growing independence.
• While he may not be able to play together with other kids just yet, he’ll enjoy “parallel play” (playing side by side as each child does his own thing). Consider organising a playdate as your tot learns just by observing his playmate.
• Do note that he still can’t grasp concepts like sharing and taking turns yet, so you’ll have to supervise his play. Explain to him, “I see you’re upset because it’s Mike’s turn with the toy. It’ll be your turn again soon.”
• If he gets frustrated because he can’t communicate, this might manifest in aggressive actions, like biting another child. Such behaviour usually diminishes as he learns to use words to express his feelings.

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18+ months

• Junior may now start to reach out to other children actively. Just as with any other skill, he’ll learn how to socialise with others via trial and error, so expect to deal with conflicts like snatching and not wanting to share.
• Your kewpie is also starting to feel a sense of belonging. Including him in meals and family outings with the older kids will give him a sense that he is part of a larger family and community.
• As he turns 2, your tot will start to learn the importance of social niceties. Though he’ll greet his grandparents, he may forget to say “thank you” when that sweet neighbour gives him a stuffed toy. He’ll soon learn to be courteous in time ― handle him with respect and he’ll learn to treat others the same way.
• While your toddler is becoming independent, he’ll still look back at you to check in, before continuing on his adventure. When he can look to you for reassurance, he’ll acquire more confidence as he develops her social skills.

Photos: iStock

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