Parents are their baby’s playmates and friends, too. Children spend countless hours looking at their parents, trying to emulate their facial expressions and their mannerisms. These small observations later become the foundation of the infant’s socialising traits.
He may break into a toothless grin or chuckle; he may twist and turn his head; move his hands and fingers; or shriek out in different situations. It is vital that we encourage the baby’s expressions and efforts to communicate feelings publicly. Talking and listening to what your baby says or tries to say or even the groans and noises he makes is important. All this while he is picking up vital clues and sounds; he will soon start accepting familiar senses and discarding the unfamiliar ones.
Trust is one important factor based on which social development of the child happens. He will tend to cling on to one person more than others and spend more time with a few select people. Your child learns to trust others to provide for his needs – whether bodily or for entertainment, security and so on. Children who experience such security are better able to deal with the world.
For the first six months, the baby will try to interact with people around him by simple gestures like sticking his tongue out, making noises and groans, smiling intermittently, or by blinking rapidly. One should acknowledge all these small actions and reciprocate as they are the baby’s first attempt at associating with the world.
Seven simple ways to encourage social skill development in babies are as follows:
- Smile and talk to your baby as frequently as possible.
- Touch your baby and let him feel you and your skin.
- Make eye contact with your baby.
- Involve all your close family members in associating with the infant, especially with fathers.
- Pick up your baby and play with him often.
- Ask questions to your baby like, “where is your hand?”, “where is your nose?”, “will you eat more?” This will give the baby a sense of belonging to his parents and increase his participation in what is happening around him.
- Let your baby play in front of mirrors. He will watch himself move and crawl and will start understanding himself even more.
One more effective way of helping a baby socialise is by introducing him to other toddlers and infants of his age group. He may first be an introvert and refuse to share his gifts with other kids, but with time and increased familiarity he will interact with other kids. Interacting with other kids is one of the first steps a baby takes in terms of communicating with the outside world beyond his immediate family.