Baby Emotional Development Milestones

Like every type of development, children improve themselves emotionally at a specific pace. Baby emotional development milestones can be summarized as follows:


Month 1

  • Makes eye contact
  • Cries for help
  • Responds to parents’ smiles and voices

Month 2

  • Begins to develop a social smile
  • Enjoys playing with other people and may cry when play stops
  • Prefers looking at people rather than objects
  • Studies faces
  • Gurgles and coos in response to sounds around her
  • First begins to express anger

Month 3

  • Starts a “conversation” by smiling at you and gurgling to get your attention
  • Smiles back when you smile at him. The big smile involves his whole body — hands open wide, arms lift up, legs move
  • Can imitate some movements and facial expressions

Month 4

  • Is intrigued by children. Will turn toward children’s voices in person or on TV
  • Laughs when tickled and when interacting with others
  • Cries if play is disrupted

Month 5

  • Becomes increasingly assertive
  • Can differentiate between family members (parents and siblings) and strangers
  • Likes to play during meals

Month 6

  • May quickly tire of a toy but will never tire of your attention
  • Temperament becomes increasingly apparent. You’ll see whether she tends to be easygoing or easily upset; gentle or active
  • Recognizes his own name
  • Coos for pleasure and cries with displeasure
  • Can make noises like grunts and squeals; clicks his tongue 

Month 7

  • Starts to understand the meaning of “no”
  • Enjoys social interaction
  • Expresses anger more strongly
  • Tries to mimic adult sounds

Month 8

  • Can differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar
  • May become shy or anxious with strangers
  • Cries in frustration when he can’t reach a toy or do something he wants to do

Month 9

  • Imitates gestures that other people make
  • Looks at correct picture when an image is named
  • Smiles and kisses own image in the mirror
  • Likes to play near parent (i.e., in kitchen while Mom is cooking)
  • May be more sensitive to the presence of other children

Month 10

  • Separation anxiety may begin
  • Self-esteem begins to develop
  • Responds to positive recognition such as clapping
  • Becomes cautious of heights
  • Shows moods such as sad, happy, and angry

Month 11

  • Tries to gain approval and avoid disapproval
  • Can be uncooperative

Month 12

  • May have temper tantrums
  • Can fluctuate between being cooperative and uncooperative
  • Shows a developing sense of humor
  • May cling to parents or one parent in particular

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