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Activities for the Emotional & Social Development of Infants

By Rose Welton ; Updated June 13, 2017

Emotional development begins at birth, when your baby pays attention to things that interest him and tries to occupy himself. He is able to express when he is happy, sad, tired or hungry. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, on their Healthy Children website, his social skills develop as he interacts with his world, enhancing his brain development. You may notice he prefers certain people to others or practices selective behavior, such as only looking at strangers. From the beginning, there are things you can do to strengthen his emotional and social skills.

Responding

By responding to your infant's babbling and early smiles, you let her know she is important and that you are interested in her. This helps her build self-esteem and realize she can trust you. Spend time with your baby face-to-face and mimic her noises and smiles. Talk to her gently and cuddle her close. This will help her develop security and love and give her social interaction.

Expressions

Show your baby different facial expression and then tell him what they are. For example, show him a big smile and then tell him you are happy. Make a face that is sad, angry, surprised and silly, each time saying the expression. Show him pictures in books and magazines of people with different faces. Exposing him to these various expressions helps him understand that emotions can be displayed in a social and readable way.

Social Interactions

Let other people hold your baby. Exercise caution by making sure others have washed their hands and that they are people you can trust. Your baby may not want to go to every person you hand him to, but let him try so he can see what it’s like to interact with people of both genders and all ages. This will build his social interaction skills and expose him to others.

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