The human baby is wired to be social from birth. Immediately after birth, your baby will have a long period of quiet alert focus where she will actively seek out your face and make eye contact. This is the first very precious social connection your baby will make. The next three years of your baby’s life lays down the foundation for emotional and social engagement.
Since socialization and connecting with people is a critical predictor of success in life, it is worth ensuring you provide your baby with positive early social experiences:
- On day one take time to hold, touch and make eye contact with your baby.
- Early positive touch experiences wire the brain for engagement – hold your baby, use baby massage and in the first week spend time with your baby in skin to skin contact – naked on your chest.
- Speak to your baby loads – language is critical to social development and is best enhanced if you speak a lot to your baby.
- At around 6 weeks of age, your baby will smile. This social signal is an important milestone. If your baby does not smile by 8-10 weeks of age, ask your paediatrician for advice and track other milestones more carefully.
- Babies learn trust through their early experiences with their mom and dad. Be consistent in meeting your baby’s needs. Do not be tempted to leave your baby to cry at this stage.
- After 6 months of age, babies start to establish object permanence – which means that your little one realizes that she is separate from you and a normal period of separation anxiety will follow.
- Expose your baby to ‘playdates’ from early on. Babies only start to ‘play’ socially with others after 18 months and it will be a time before she understands the concept of sharing.
Enjoy watching your little one develop the precious skill of social interaction.