Your Baby has Social and Emotional Needs

As babies grow older, they will begin to express themselves more. Although they cannot engage in any meaningful speech yet, they can respond by babbling loudly when someone talks to them. Between 6-12 months, they will also start displaying emotions such as fear and anger to express their needs or discomfort. It is also during this time that they look to their caregivers for consistent trust and security in times of uncertainty. Hence, this period is critical for you to establish a strong bond with your baby and provide a secure environment for him to grow healthily. 

Providing Assurance and Security 

At this age, it is normal for your baby to feel insecure and fearful when you walk away from him. Recognise that this is due to his increased awareness of strangers and this apparent emotional dependency on you may pass in a few months. 

Do not be irritable when he clings tightly to you. Instead, be patient and shower him with reassurance. Provide him with plenty of opportunities to be with others and assure him that the people around him are dependable. Speak words of support to him, hug him when necessary and shower him with praise when he makes efforts to cope positively. Even if he fails, your praise and approval act as encouragement for him to persevere and try again. At the same time, it helps to boost his confidence. 

Establishing a Routine 

Putting your baby into a routine helps in his emotional development at this age. Routines​ such as having meals at regular times, a fixed time for bed each night, and following a specific sequence in bathing or eating gives him a sense of stability and contributes to his overall sense of security and well-being. Your baby will enjoy the familiarity of the routine and this will be emotionally beneficial for him. 

Lessons in Behaviour 

Your baby will not understand what is good and bad behavior unless you help him to. Establishing rules on behaviour helps to enhance his social awareness of others and helps him establish self-control.​

Show your baby what is good and bad behaviour. To reinforce good behaviour, reward him with attention by clapping your hands, smiling at him and praising him. For bad behaviour, say ‘no’ and be firm with him. Discourage bad behaviour through your tone and expression, and ignore him for a while before reassuring him that you still love him. Repeat this process until he understands it is your way of saying ‘no’ to bad behaviour. 

It is important to refrain from always correcting your baby on what he should not do. Instead help him to learn appropriate behaviour by telling him what he should do and model that good behaviour. 

Building a Safe, Positive and Happy Environment 

Your baby learns from the people he interacts with and responds to the environment he lives in. As parents, you play a critical role in establishing a safe, positive and happy environment for the growth of your baby.​

A positive and supportive relationship among family members helps promote positive emotions in your baby. Hence, avoid conflicts in front of your baby and speak to each another in a calm and pleasant way. As he develops his abilities, he will also learn to communicate like you do. 

Encourage all family members to spend time playing with him and making him laugh. Playing and having fun together helps to build happy memories which can make him feel confident about himself and the people around him. 

As your baby becomes more sensitive to your emotions, it is important for you to be able to manage your negative emotions as you tend to him. Your baby can sense your frustration in your tone and your expression and react negatively towards you, which might stress you out even more. Hence it is crucial that you look for ways to calm yourself down before attending to him. Once you are calm, you can soothe him by cuddling and singing to him to make him feel safe, loved and secure. ​​

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