Learning social skills will be one of your baby’s most important developmental processes as they are hugely important in family life, at school and, eventually, at work and throughout their adult life.
Babies are pre-programmed to make social connections as this will ensure that they are cared for and, therefore, ultimately thrive and survive. They engage us with their eyes, their cries and then their smiles, giggles and coo’s
The first friends your baby will make are you, your partner and siblings. In their first few months, your baby will show preferences for people based on how they feel when they are with them. This will often depend on how they are held and soothed by that person. Lots of cuddles and eye contact can help build trust and attachment together with introducing some gentle fun games. Once your baby learns to sit up and reach out for new and interesting objects and people, they will become much more engaged and active in their little world.
Your baby will be interested in others similar in size to them, and they will be fascinated and transfixed by what they do. As they start to move around towards the end of their first year, they will naturally move towards people and things that interest them. This curiosity and enthusiasm will help them to build new relationships and show the first signs of friendship.
Until they reach their third year, your little one will most likely play alongside other infants rather than with them. It may seem a lonely way to play, but this is vital to help them build up their imagination and social skills
However, from new research carried out by scientists from Charles Sturt University in Australia babies who are too young to talk can still communicate with other babies, form friendships and even crack jokes to each other. They discovered that babies aged six to 18-months were able to ‘talk’ to each other through gestures like noises, humour and shared play during a series of tests.
As your baby grows into a toddler you will notice that they like to imitate both you and their friends and spend lots of time watching what you and they do. They will also also want to assert their independence, they may start to refuse to hold your hand when you walk down a street or throw a tantrum when you say no to something they want to do.
Your toddler is interested in the world, but mainly in how everything in it relates to them. As your child learns to talk and communicate with others, they will also learn to make friends. Your toddler will start to enjoy the company of other children now, both their age and older.
Between the ages of two years old and three years old, your toddler will understand love and trust. They will be able to show affection now. However, they aren’t yet able to put themselves in other people’s shoes or understand that other people have feelings too.
Your toddler is becoming better at sharing their toys and taking turns. It’s a good idea to play lots of games with your baby that encourages this behaviour and to explain to them how it makes the other children feel when they are being kind and sharing. In our Baby College Junior classes, we encourage lots of socialising between the children and they really look forward to seeing each other in class and get very excited when one of their favourites arrive. This is the first steps of them forming friendships