The Social, Emotional & Physical Development of Infants

seven month old baby in the bed
Your baby will grow and develop rapidly. (Image: AGrigorjeva/iStock/Getty Images)

As you bring home your new infant, you may be surprised at how fast he seems to grow. Your baby will continue to develop socially, emotionally and physically and will develop a strong understanding of language. You can help your child grow by consistently interacting with him.

Social

The social development of your baby is what happens when she responds to human faces and voices. According to the American Pregnancy Association, she may learn to smile back at you when you hold her or she may even begin babbling as if trying to speak to you. Social development affects how your baby plays with other children and adults as she grows. If your baby is delayed in this particular developmental area, she may have a problem with eyesight or hearing, so she will be less able to learn from your cues.

Emotional

Your baby’s emotions go hand in hand with his social development and they need to work together to mature. In the first six months of development, your baby will respond to your love and attention by developing a sense of trust, according to the National Network for Child Care. At the same time, your baby will express his emotions, anger, happiness, excitement or fright. Between six and 12 months, your child will get angry when his needs are not met but will also smile when content and relaxed.

Physical

At the time you give birth to your baby, she won’t be able to sit up on her own nor will she have much control over her large muscles. Your baby will stay at this level of development until she reaches about four months of age, when she will begin to gain better control of her muscles and nerves. At this point, she will be able to sit up straight and hold her head up in addition to being able to slightly roll. As your infant continues to progress, her physical development will amaze you.

Language

According to Medline Plus, language development in your child is how he is starting to make sounds, learn words and understanding what people say. In the second month of life, your baby will begin to make sounds other than crying, a sign that his language is developing. By three months, your child will squeal, coo and babble. At the end of six months, your baby will be able to say one-syllable words such as “ma” and “pa.” At the end of 12 months, your baby will say two or three words and imitate sounds. He will also understand many words.

Activities to Encourage Development

Begin the first six months by talking and singing to your baby as you change her diaper, bathe her or rock her. Put toys close enough to her face that she can see them. You can also try pointing to parts on your baby’s body, such as her ears and nose, and say the name of each part. Put your baby in multiple positions to strengthen her muscles as she moves. The National Network for Child Care suggests that in months six to 12, start allowing your baby to crawl and move away from you, exploring her surroundings. Read books to her and give her toys she can chew. Begin teaching your child what is allowed or not allowed so that she will understand rules. As always, give your child love and attention, taking care of her needs as soon as they arise.

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