How Can You Help Your Baby’s Social Development?
A guest post by Hayley from Baby College West Berkshire & North Reading.
In our Baby College classes we talk about how your baby develops social skills, it is reassuring to remember that during the first three years of your little one’s life the majority of their most important socialisation will take place at home. For your little baby it is all about you, your partner, any siblings they may have and grandparents. As they get older they will start to learn about their wider world and how they can interact (and react) to contacts made outside their family circle.
Our fun, development classes are perfect for giving you lots of ideas for play and bonding at home. We all know how important play is for your baby or small child. In those first, formative years it can be said living, playing, and learning are almost one.
For your little baby, play encourages a closer, more fun relationship with you. It helps lay the foundations of their early social development as they watch the expressions on your face and learn about communicating. Movement and play encourage their understanding of their sensory world, which will be crucial for their later social development too.
For your growing toddler and small child, play helps their social and emotional development and their self-confidence and imagination. We really do like to encourage all our parents and carers to join in with all the activities as, not only is this fun for you, but it also sets a good example for your baby/child too.
You should also remember that you are your baby’s best teacher and a period of forced confinement like this, will have some advantages for your little one:
- They are going to be spending a lot of time with you and this can really help build up the bond between parent and child and cement your role as ‘teacher’.
- You will probably be living a simpler life, which means that you may have more time to spend with your baby or toddler. Time and attention are the most precious gifts you can give your child.
- With a simple routine you can make your small child feel secure and safe and give definition to the day. It can also help with their concentration, by repeating an activity every day they learn how to do the activity and how to concentrate throughout it.
Our Baby College programme is fundamentally about inspiring and encouraging parents with stimulating activities to try with their little ones. Our job is to arm you with research and ideas for play together. Those of you who have been attending Baby College for some time will know that, particularly with younger babies, the teacher explains and demonstrates an activity to the grown ups, and then each parent / caregiver works with their own child in class.
How to help your baby and young child’s social development
- Skin-to-skin contact: baby massage is very beneficial
- Lots of cuddles
- Plenty of eye contact and talking/smiling with your baby
- Singing songs and dancing together round your house
- Go for walks and talk about what they can see
- Lots of play or cuddles with siblings (if they have any)
- Using scarves or small bits of cloth to start playing peek-a-boo
- Singing lots of nursery rhymes and performing action rhymes
- Using sign language to ease frustrations and aid communication
- Responding to their babbling and attempts to talk to you – pay attention and listen
- Playing peek-a-boo games or simple hiding games (hiding objects under a cup etc). This will help your toddler to start to understand about object permanence
- Playing outside and letting them roam a little
Older toddlers and young children
- Letting them explore their world using role play
- Remember that you are a role model. Your little one will learn about empathy and social interaction by watching how you react.
- Be interested in what they are interested in. Remember to ask questions and listen to their replies
- Know your child’s limits, don’t push them too much and make sure they have quiet times during the day.
Find out more about Baby College at www.babycollege.co.uk/west-berks-and-north-reading.
Baby College West Berkshire & North Reading is a West Berkshire Family Life membership card partner! You can enjoy a 10% discount on classes! Terms apply. Find out more and sign up for your FREE membership card here.