Socialising For Babies: Learning From Others

First Few Words

Your baby is beginning to try a few words, with 'mama' and 'dada' likely to be among them. Many of his attempts will still be crude, like 'ba' for 'ball', for example. These new sounds prompt others to give him the words he wants, and that's what teaches him language.

Shared Joint Attention

Before he becomes adept at naming the things around him, he'll point at them. It's a process that psychologists call 'shared joint attention'. He'll start with jabbing his finger at objects he wants and will soon move on to pointing at interesting items just to share them with you. He'll make faces to get laughs from you and will dance and pose to hold your attention. No one understands the meaning behind his gestures and behaviour better than you do, so he'll throw his whole body into getting the responses he wants. He's irresistible.

Your Little Social Butterfly

Many babies this age like being around other children their own age, siblings, relatives and neighbours. Don't expect too much interaction. Your baby may enjoy watching other children and may even try imitating them, but actually playing together comes later. (A note on imitation: Babies are happy to repeat any action that gets a laugh. So watch what you reward with a chuckle – it may not be something that deserves an encore!) Sharing is also too much to expect at this age. Instead, concentrate on teaching older children how to trade toys back and forth with your baby.

Signs of Empathy

It's not too early to start watching for signs of empathy in your little one – crying when another child cries, patting someone in distress or trying to help someone who's hurt. Even though your baby can't really understand how the sufferer feels, she's learning how to identify and respond to feelings.

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