Your baby will develop at his own rate but here are a few steps he is likely to take:
|Birth to three months||Within the first few days of birth, your newborn will make eye contact with you and faces. By two months, your baby will give his first smiles.|
|Three to six months||Your baby is happy to communicate with new people and is starting to learn how to be a separate little person. Some babies are more sociable and may smile at others or just stare.|
|Six to nine months||Your baby now recognises and responds to his name. He will prefer familiar people now and may show the first signs of separation anxiety, being unhappy when he’s away from you. He enjoys a game of peekaboo with you and may be showing interest in other babies by looking at them and grabbing them, or rolling towards them.|
|10 to 12 months||Your baby enjoys playing alongside other children (parallel play), but doesn’t play with them yet. He won’t learn to play with children for at least another year. Your baby’s separation anxiety may have increased, making him wary of strangers.
To encourage your baby to get used to other babies and children you could join a parent-and-baby group.
|13 to 18 months||Your toddler will have started talking, which will help him to develop relationships. He’ll still enjoy parallel play with other children, but separation anxiety is likely to peak about now. Your toddler is likely have mood swings, and relies on having you nearby to reassure him.|
|19 to 24 months||Your toddler shows affection with hugs and kisses, though some children enjoy cuddles more than others. He may be mostly affectionate but have phases of pushing you away, and may have tantrums from time to time.
He may shy away from interacting with unfamiliar adults. He will begin to reach out to other children for play, but probably isn’t good at sharing.
|Two to three years||Your child may show a preference for one or two friends his age. And you may see him talking to or playing with an imaginary friend. He may be interested in the feelings of characters when you read him a story.
Sharing and taking turns is improving but is not quite there yet. He may become aggressive from time to time, hitting or biting to protect his space or belongings. Sometimes this can be due to frustration, as he may not yet be able to express his needs, despite knowing what he wants.
He has started to be more in tune with others’ emotions, but is not fully able to put himself in another’s shoes (empathy). He most enjoys playing in the presence of adults.
Ask for help if …Occasional aggression and frustration is a normal part of a child’s development. But talk to your health visitor or doctor if aggressive behaviour becomes frequent or severe and is getting in the way of daily activities.
|Three to four years||Your child will be more confident and independent than ever now, though he’ll still need your attention and guidance. He will learn a lot from watching and interacting with others, starting to understand how relationships with others work.
Your child may bicker with playmates, especially if he’s strong-willed, but he’ll also show affection. He’ll initiate play and make up his own games, enjoying playing with others and on his own.
He’ll be able to have fun with structured group games and may even like playing a simple board game for children, if the rules are flexible! He will be increasingly able to share and take turns without you having to remind him.