It’s exciting to see your baby coo, smile and reach for you or objects. As she develops, she will begin to socialize using both verbal and nonverbal communication. Recognizing her cues and communicating often with your infant can help her to develop strong social skills that will aid her in future relationships.
Socialization in infants starts with the parent who makes daily connections with the baby through interactions and playtime, says Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Pittsburgh-based family physician and author of "Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate." When you make funny faces or gaze in your child’s eyes, he learns how to respond and socialize with you. Holding your baby is an important way to communicate, too, she says, as your child learns how to connect with others through non-verbal communication.
Although infants may not know immediately how to calm down when upset, over time, they learn self-soothing techniques while embracing social norms. It’s the parent’s job to comfort the child and introduce social norms, says Laurie Zelinger, New York-based child psychologist. For example, when your baby is crying in a public place, pick him up, hold him and talk softly to soothe him; this teaches him the level of volume preferred in these situations. Although he may not be able to resist crying in public as an infant, the soothing techniques illustrate social expectations.
Even as an infant, your little one can learn how to interact with other children. Allowing young children to play together is a healthy way to help kids socialize, says Vicki Hoefle, Vermont-based professional parent educator.. Two infants on a play date or paired together for floor time may stare at each other for awhile, mimic actions as one rolls over or reaches out his hand and make cooing sounds to communicate -- all ways your infant is learning to interact socially.
Your child will likely learn to socialize with you on a daily basis, but it is also beneficial to allow your infant to bond and socialize with other adults, recommends Zelinger. Invite a family member or friend over to interact with your baby so she begins to see other examples of socialization. "Talking is a valuable form of stimulation which leads to brain growth," she says. While one friend may laugh loudly or tickle your baby, another may use a soft voice to communicate. These examples teach your infant how to adapt to different styles of socialization and learn how to interact with different personalities.