A profile of a young sociable baby



From the early weeks of life, the baby grows and develops. Movement becomes voluntary and is more controlled and the baby starts to socialise.

As the baby develops, primitive reflexes disappear and baby learns to control movements of the body. First the head, the shoulders, arms, out to the hands and down to the trunk of the body, then legs and feet. Once the baby can lift their head, they can see the world from new angles and look at the interesting things around them. Babies are fascinated by what adults and other children are doing. If baby is safely strapped in a chair or on a rug on the floor, they love to watch ordinary everyday events like washing up or preparing a meal. Having time to move freely on the floor, without restricting clothes, allows baby to move arms and legs and learn to co-ordinate these movements.


One of the first movements the baby learns is to control is the face. Learning to suck and pull faces. At around 6 weeks comes the magical first smile; a genuine response to adult interaction. When people smile back this reinforces the action for baby and the smiles are repeated. This repetition builds up the nerve pathways needed for the action of smiling and the baby learns to use muscular movement to be sociable.


As their movements become smoother and more controlled the baby learns about the world. At first movement is random, but when interesting things happen baby repeats a movement deliberately. For example: if the baby accidently moves his arm and hits a toy suspended in arm's reach seeing the movement of the toy and hearing it rattle attracts baby's attention and baby will repeat the action. A young baby will concentrate watching the movements of his or her own fingers. This movement helps co-ordination of hand and brain and eye and teaches the baby the skill to reach out to the things they see. Finger play is a way of learning about the world and about the limits of baby's own body. At first a baby does not know he or she is a separate being who can have an effect on the world. After a few months, baby learns not only put hands into the mouth but also feet. A game to encourage a baby to explore the limits of their body is to put safe wrist or ankle straps with tiny bells securely attached so they ring when the baby moves their limbs. It does not take a baby long to work out how to make the sound for themselves.


The young baby cries when uncomfortable but learns that help comes and baby is soothed by a familiar gentle voice. At around 3 months, the baby shouts for attention. Baby's arms and legs move with excitement. Baby makes contented little sounds and starts to coo. Most of all, baby becomes an expert at talking with his or her eyes. Their eyes follow moving objects and turn to the light. Their eyes gaze intently at nearby faces when the baby wants someone to talk with them. They look away when they have had enough interaction and want to stop. They look at interesting objects and observant caregivers will respond by bringing the object closer. If you give it to baby they will grasp the object and hold it. Young babies chat to you. They coo and gurgle. Then wait for a reply. They know conversations are about taking turns to listen and then respond.


All this time babies are bonding with the family and close caregivers. They feel secure when things are the same and they learn to recognise familiar routines. They recognise the sounds of food preparation or of water being run for bathtime. Bathtime is more fun as baby enjoys being handled and enjoys the feel of warm water splashed on their skin. Baby massage can soothe and relax both baby and the person giving the massage. Use Sweet Almond Oil rather than mineral based oil for baby's delicate skin. Babies are expert at reading adult emotions. A crying baby may be responding to an anxious adult. All babies are different, some sleep longer than others, some are content and some are fretful. Fron 3 months, babies sleep less during the day and are content to watch a nearby adult or to smile and talk. As the caregiver becomes more confident in handling the baby and understands baby's individual needs, baby settles into a familiar routine. Gradually baby changes from passive dependent to a sociable baby who is fascinated by the world and how he or she can affect it.

The young sociable baby:
  • learns to control body movements of arms and legs
  • learns to hold up their head and look around
  • moves arms and kicks legs with excitement
  • learns the limits of their own body
  • concentrates on own finger play
  • reaches out to nearby suspended toys and can make it move
  • eyes follow moving objects and head turns towards the light
  • watches faces intently
  • smiles and coos to responsive caregivers
  • shouts for attention
  • is soothed by a gentle familiar voice
  • learns to recognise familiar routines
  • enjoys bathtime

  • Please come and see each separate page for profiles of child development.

    A NEWBORN BABY
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    A YOUNG SOCIABLE BABY
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    A MOBILE BABY EXPLORER
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    AN INDEPENDENT TODDLER
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    A NURSERY SCHOOL CHILD
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    AN INFANT SCHOOL PUPIL
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    PROFILES INTRODUCTION
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