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Developmental Milestones: Socialization in Babies

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

When will my baby develop social skills?

Babies are born social creatures. From their earliest days, they begin to connect to and collect information from their caregivers. In fact, even newborns are capable of imitating facial expressions, demonstrating an understanding of how another’s actions relate to their own. Within weeks, they are cooing and intentionally smiling, responding in rhythm to their caregiver’s communications. By the end of the first three months, most families feel they “know” their infant, and that they have meaningful 2-way communication that includes game playing (e.g., peek-a-boo). Until approximately your baby’s first birthday, they and their primary caretakers are often immersed in an intimate dyad of love and learning.

Developmental Milestones in 0-3 Month-Old Babies

The importance of trust

Babies are almost entirely dependent on their caregivers. So, the ways that parents interact with their babies have a profound effect on a child's health.

A researcher, Erik Erikson calls the stage of Basic Trust vs. Mistrust. From 0-2, he believed that early patterns of trust influence a child's social and emotional development. If they succeed, they will have mastered the basic psychosocial goals of this age and will advance in development with a strong and secure sense of the world and its place within it. For it is only from a place of secure attachment that a baby is safe enough to explore the larger world around her. According to his theory, a parent essentially shapes their child's perception and future relationships.

Social smile

Your baby will be taking in their world by watching everything that is happening in their world. This is an exciting time because you’ll see a social smile occur! Babies will use smiles as an initiation of a shared interaction with familiar caregivers.

Developmental Milestones in 3-6 Month-Old Babies

Shared interactions Your baby’s come a long way in their first 3 months. They’re probably now a very social being who loves being with you and having fun together! At this point, you’re an expert at reading your baby’s signals and responding appropriately - most of the time. Your baby also ‘‘read’ some of your expressions. They’ll smile when you show you’re happy and may look worried if you look tired. They still have an idea that the whole of life is happening inside them and they are making all of it happen. The idea that you are completely separate from them, and can take yourself away from them, will not come until your baby is 7 months or older At this age, babies will start to differentiate between two people based on the way they look, sound, or feel, show excitement by waving arms and legs, and laugh aloud! Recognizing feelings During this time, your infant begins to recognize and identify their own feelings and that they are different. For example, they may know the difference between feeling hungry and feeling lonely and may be able to give you some clue as to whether they want food or a cuddle. Your baby is able to differentiate between these emotional states because of your support helping them navigate various feelings and appropriate responses. Separation You and your baby are starting to feel (and act) like separate people. Your baby is starting to sit up, move by rolling, reach out, and act on the world. They worry that you might not come back when you go away and will let you know it. Your baby will respond to you by giving them opportunities to look at many different items, touch them, play with them, and safely put them in their mouth.

Developmental Milestones in 9-12 Month-Old Babies


Around 9-12 months, babies become more interested in exploring their world. This drive often coincides with their learning to crawl and/or walk, which leads to new adventures further away from nurturing caretakers. They begin to use pre-verbal skills: pointing to objects, an important developmental milestone that demonstrates their ability to communicate! Pointing thus allows interactions to expand to include objects and actions, enlarging babies’ ability to communicate and learn through shared interactions.

Developmental Milestones in 9-18 Month-Old Babies

Stranger danger

Nine to eighteen months is when your little one is noticing when you leave and return and that you still exist even when you’re not physically present. Stranger anxiety is beginning. Babies often resist and protest being with novel or less-known adults. ‘Peek-a-boo’ and ‘hiding under a blanket’ are favorite games because they’re anticipatory with familiar people coming and going. Your baby is beginning to understand that when they see you, you also see them. But they still think if they can’t see you, you can’t see them (e.g., putting their hands over their eyes to hide).

Developmental Milestones in 2-Year-Old Babies


Around two years old, toddlers enter the stage of Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt, described by Erikson. At this point in development, children are just starting to gain some independence. They are starting to perform basic actions on their own and make simple decisions about what they prefer. By allowing kids to make choices and gain control, parents and caregivers can help children develop a sense of autonomy. When provided encouragement, children explore and expand on these interests and drives.

Potty Training

They develop self-sufficient behavior, such as beginning to dress and feed themselves, but most importantly potty training. The highlighting theme of this stage, is children need to develop personal control over physical and self-help skills to facilitate independence. Potty training plays a vital role in helping children develop this sense of autonomy.

Developmental Milestones in 2-3 Year-Old Babies

Pushing the limits

The third stage of psychosocial development takes place during the early preschool years. At this point in psychosocial development, children begin to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interactions. Your child will begin to push the limits to determine what a parent’s boundaries are. Your child may begin to protest by saying no, exhibit tantrums, and become ‘stubborn.’

Sense of purpose

Children who are successful at this stage develop a sense of purpose, feel capable, and lead others. Children who try to exert too much power experience disapproval, resulting in a sense of guilt, self-doubt, and lack of initiative.

Final Thoughts

Those who fail to acquire these skills are left with a sense of guilt, self-doubt, and lack of initiative. As their parent, it is important to help set your baby up to succeed, so if they are having trouble with any of the skills mentioned here, contact Ressa Speech today.

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