Social skills include the skills needed for your little one to regulate emotions and interact with both other children and adults. From day one babies need to know how to get there needs met. They depend on their caregivers for everything so communicating and interacting with others is an important survival skill. Social Skills are present from day one and will look a little different from one baby to the next.
If you are ever concerned about your little one’s development always seek out the Early Intervention program in your area for a free screening or evaluation. In this post I will give you information about what social skills look like and how to encourage these skills in babies from birth to three months.
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0-3 MONTHS SOCIAL SKILLS INCLUDE:
Although your little one’s vision will be pretty fuzzy at the start, one of the first things they will try to do is to look at your face. You may notice your baby look at your face briefly when they are first born. As they begin to mature you will notice that quick glances turn into longer gazes. Eye contact will become more apparent as your baby goes from days old to weeks old. This is because babies see very blurred images to start with which become more clear as they get older.
Many mothers treasure that moment when they see their little one smile for the first time! It may be just be random (baby just reflexively smiled) but soon there will be meaning behind it. You will soon notice that the smile is in connection with something that makes them happy or comforts them, like the sound of your voice singing them a lullaby. Watch your baby’s cues to figure out what their preferences are so that you can know what they like and dislike.
When you are holding your baby you may notice that sometimes they feel stiffer and other times more relaxed. Pay attention to the different positions you use and how their body reacts. You want your infant to be comfortable and all babies have different positions that feel good to them. When your little one has found a nice position notice their relaxed muscle tone and how they “mold” into your arms
HOW YOU CAN ENCOURAGE SOCIAL SKILLS:
FACE TO FACE TIME
Spend lots of time looking at your little one…and letting them look at you! Our faces are what we use to communicate emotions so let your baby watch you so they can learn. Smile at them to make them feel safe. You can even try making some silly faces, like sticking out your tongue. Wait a few seconds so you can see their reaction before moving to another expression. Watch your baby’s cues and if they start to get fussy or seem overstimulated give them a break from the interaction.
Make silly faces, blow raspberries and play peek-a-boo with your baby. These classic games engage your little one and get them interested in you! In order for a baby to learn to imitate they need to first be able to watch you. Watch how they respond to see which silly faces they like the most.
When your baby starts to make little coos and sounds try to imitate them. Your baby will find this interesting and may even try to have a mini conversation with you. Go along with it and see what silly sounds you both can make.
One of the best ways to get your baby to look at you is by talking to them. By talking to them you are modeling one of the biggest social skills they will need to learn. You can introduce your baby to many words by narrating your day. Talk about what you are going to make for dinner or talk about a what you see while driving in the car. If you speak multiple languages feel free to speak both to them while they are babies. This will allow them to learn both, instead of having to teach them desperately later on in life. There are many benefits for children that grow up bilingual!
Singing is a great for babies for so many reasons! If your baby is upset, singing to them may be comforting and will help soothe them. It is also a great way to draw attention to you and distract your little one during a diaper change. Singing is a great social activity that is easy to take part in with your little one in almost any situation. Make up your own songs or sing one of your childhood favorites to encourage your little one’s development.
Give your baby lots of snuggles and cuddles so that they feel safe and loved. YOU CAN NOT SPOIL A BABY BY HOLDING THEM TOO MUCH WHEN THEY ARE THIS YOUNG, SO IGNORE IT IF SOMEONE SAYS THAT TOO YOU.
Take care of yourself, because if you are stressed out your baby can sense this and they won’t be relaxed. Being a new mom can be overwhelming at times, so ask for help when you need it and let someone else hold your baby (I am sure they won’t mind).
3-6 MONTHS SOCIAL SKILLS INCLUDE:
Awareness of New Situations
You use to be able to take your little one anywhere with not much fuss about being in a new place. Whether you were at the grocery store, restaurant, or your friend’s house your baby did not respond to the environment change.
You may notice now that your baby is not so oblivious to a scenery change these days. Their eyes may widen to take in the new surroundings or they may cry or show signs of fear.
You don’t need to stop taking your little one with you, but do try to make them comfortable in new environments if they appear to be upset. Bring a familiar toy or hold them to calm them down. Tell them about where they are and explain to them that they are in a safe space with you by their side.
Loves Social Play
Your baby’s new favorite toy is….YOU! Your baby is now showing a lot of interest in you and enjoys your company. They love it when you are chatting with them or playing peek-a-boo during a diaper change. They love to look at your face and eye contact is present for brief times when playing and interacting.
Notices Unfamiliar Faces
When your baby was first born they did not care who was holding them, as long as they had a warm body! These days your little one may not be as comfortable with someone who isn’t mom or dad. Your baby is starting to recognize strange faces and new people. They may show some anxiety or cry if a new person is introduced.
HOW CAN I ENCOURAGE SOCIAL SKILLS?
Your baby is starting to crave social play so it is time to have some fun! Playing simple games like peek-a-boo is a great way to be social and have fun with your little one. Try this out during diaper changes or tummy time with your baby.
Mirrors (like this one) are a great way for your baby to discover themselves. If you are in the bathroom, let them see their reflection and talk about the beautiful baby in the mirror. If they are having some floor time take a non-breakable mirror and put it in front of them. They may only glance at the mirror at first, but soon they will be smiling at the new playmate in front of them.
Singing simple songs is a great way to connect with your baby (read about more benefits HERE). Singing provides a perfect transition to bedtime and is a great way to greet your baby when they wake up. You can start with simple nursery rhymes or your favorite song from the radio, either way your little one will get the same benefit. If you know songs in multiple languages it is a great time to introduce those as well.
Reading with your baby provides lots of social interaction (click here to read more about early literacy skills). Explore soft squishy books (like these) together before bed or during play time. Talk about the pictures and show your baby how to pat and point at what they see. Magazines (like this one) designed for babies work well to give them a unique literacy experience as well.
Label emotions that the characters are having in the story so your little one becomes more familiar with those words. Talk about your own emotions as you read as well to help develop their emotional awareness. Let them know how happy it makes you to spend time with your favorite little human!
If you are looking for more ways to encourage your baby’s development check out One Minute Milestones.
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