Birth to 18 months Social/Emotional Development

We have become so aware of the need for doing everything we can to assist our infant into attachment, that sometimes we forget the need to actually socialize our baby.  We also need to help our infant to achieve a sense of self apart from others, especially us, the primary care taker/parent.

Healthy children are not symbiotic.  We raise our children to be independent thinkers.  So while we are looking to raise children who are fully attached to us, we concurrently are raising children to be capable of individual thought and reasoning.  Interesting that to have a healthy child, a parent needs to provide both attachment and individuality from the very beginning.

From the Washington State Early Learning and Developmental Benchmarks–Review Draft, November 2004, here are some indicators for helping infants to perceive themselves as separate from others:

Birth to 18 months Indicators:

  • Explores own body (e.g., observes hands, reaches for toes)
  • Responds with gestures or vocalizations when name is spoken.
  • Shows awareness of self in voice, mirror image, and body.
  • Attempts to complete basic daily living tasks (e.g., feeds self).

Some Strategies for Caregivers:

  • Make time to be alone and fully engaged with your child.
  • Use child’s name during interactions.
  • Provide unbreakable mirrors for child to look at self.
  • Give child time to find ways to soothe self.
  • Give child time to remain engaged in activities.

One of the reasons I want to post these type of researched findings, is that most parents are already doing much of what is listed.  This is to help parents and care takers take a breath and realize that your natural instincts for interacting with infants is just what the baby needs.

Hooray for you!  Soak it in and enjoy this moment.  Savor the good moments to help you through the challenging moments.

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