Learn

Month 6: Socializing &  Self-Esteem

by Penny Warner

BABY'S PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Body is Growing

  • Mouthing – At this age, your baby is probably putting everything she can grasp into her mouth. While lying on her tummy, she may reach for items around her and take them into her mouth, to find out what they feel like, what size and temperature they are, if they’re soft or hard, and even if they’re edible. It’s the way she learns about the properties of different objects. 
  • Rollover – Your baby will be rolling over both ways if she isn’t already. This is another major milestone and leads to greater mobility. Some babies even use rolling as a method to get from one spot to another. Be sure to keep an eye on her at all times.
  • Sitting – Sitting without support is the latest physical task your baby is trying to perfect, as she attempts to hold up her head and straighten her back. She may roll up into a sitting position, combining both rolling and sitting, but may tip over soon after.

How You Can Help

  • Mouthing – You need to be especially careful of your baby’s surroundings, now that she’s taking everything into her mouth. She’ll try to mouth even the tiniest objects, including coins, bits of food, and bugs. She could choke on these objects, so make sure the area is cleared of objects that are sharp, breakable, or have small parts. Don’t stop her from mouthing objects – it’s still a valuable learning experience. Set out a variety of items for baby to grasp and mouth while lying on her tummy. 
  • Rollover – To help baby practice her rolling over, give her a little help by tucking in an arm and lifting a leg over, so she gets the idea if she hasn’t already. Place toys on either side of baby to encourage her to rollover. Give her praise when she rolls to keep her motivated, although the experience will do that itself.
  • Sitting – Hold your baby in your lap and support her lightly around the waist. Let go for a few seconds and let her balance herself. After a few times, repeat the exercise on the floor, making sure your hands are close by in order to catch her as she tries to balance herself.

BABY’S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Brain is Maturing

  • Self Esteem – Your baby shows early signs of self esteem when she wants a favorite toy, attaches to a “lovey”, or smiles at herself in the mirror. These reactions are not selfish acts, but expressions of her growing awareness that she matters.
  • Matching Sounds – Around this time your baby will begin to distinguish between somewhat similar sounds, and will anticipate which object makes which sound. She’s fine tuning her listening skills, and using the sounds to help her identify between different objects.
  • Social Language – Your baby is using syllables, vowels, and consonants to practice “social language.” She’s imitating the sounds she hears from the people around her, as a form of pre-language. You’re likely to hear consonants including “ba,” “da,” “ga,” “la,” “ma,” “na,” “pa,” “ta,” and “wa.” The rest of the consonants are more difficult and will come later.

How You Can Help

  • Self Esteem – One of the best ways to help your baby enhance her self-esteem is to give her lots of mirror time. About this time she may respond to the mirror by smiling at herself in the reflection. Let your baby see herself standing up, sitting, and up close. Then put a hat on her head and watch her reaction to her new image.
  • Matching Sounds – Play a listening game with your baby, using two toys that make similar but different sounds, such as two rattles. Hold up one rattle and shake it for baby, then hold up the other one and shake it. Repeat, and watch your baby move her eyes between the two objects as she anticipates which will make the next noise.
  • Social Language – To continue your baby’s rapid growth in speech sounds, repeat back the sounds she makes, using songs or chants. When she says a sound, imitate it, then make another sound that’s similar, and see if baby will imitate you. Say a few simple words that use similar sounds, and show her the objects that match, such as “dada” – point to daddy, “mama” – point to mommy, and “wawa” – point to a water bottle.

BABY’S PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

How Baby’s Personality is Unfolding

  • Social Interaction – Your baby is displaying more recognition of and response to other people she’s familiar with. She shows this by watching the people she’s attached to, smiling at them spontaneously, vocalizing excitedly, and waving her arms and legs.
  • Social Play – Your baby is beginning to anticipate the fun of playing with you. She may be wide-eyed at first, then begin to smile or laugh, and become excited. She may also begin to “ask” for the play to continue, by making more noises, waving more excitedly, and fussing when it ends.
  • Emotional Expression – A few weeks ago, when your baby was upset, she tended to be comforted by rocking, swinging, and other physical methods of calming baby. Now she tends to be comforted more by being with the people she’s attached to, by having her “lovey”, or by soothing herself with the pacifier.

How You Can Help

  • Social Interaction – Your baby becomes more comfortable with other people the more time she spends with them. If she doesn’t seem to respond positively to a friend or relative initially, she just needs time to warm up and get to know them. Have the person approach her slowly, talk to her, and continue to make attempts throughout the meeting. Don’t force the friendship. Baby will warm up as she grows comfortable with different people.
  • Social Play – Your baby will enjoy playing more games around this age, as she learns how to interact and respond to her caregivers. Continue playing “Peek-A-Boo,” “Pat-A-Cake,” fingerplays for fine motor development, “Airplane” for gross motor play, and “Where did it go?” for cognitive play. At the same time, all play enhances social development.
  • Emotional Expression – Notice how baby responds to your methods of comfort, and you may see that different techniques work for different discomforts. Often just holding your baby, talking to her, and caressing her will be enough to soothe her at this stage. Sometimes a change of caregiver is needed if your baby continues to be upset, to give you both a break.