5 Ways to socialize with your baby

May 1, 2012 at 5:19 a.m. ET

Your baby is learning to be social before she’s born. When she’s in your belly, she’s listening to your voice and picking it out from all the others -- that’s the first step. Once she’s here, it’s up to you to keep helping her learn how to interact. You don’t need lots of toys or trips to visit other babies. She can learn everything she needs at this young age just from hanging out with you.

dad playing with baby

Meet her needs

When your baby cries, it's because she needs something. Do what you can to get her what she needs as quickly as possible. This helps build her trust in you, which leads to her trust of other people. It also shows her to ask for things she needs.

Read Why your baby is crying and what you can do about it >>

Play copycat

You may think your baby can't do much socializing those first few months, but that's not true. While your baby is just lying there, she's not staring into space, she's watching you and soaking up every move you make — especially with your face. At as early as one month old, she'll be ready to put some of what she's learned to use. When you catch your baby looking at you, make a face, stick out your tongue, make your eyes go wide, anything simple to reproduce. Pretty soon, she'll start to make those faces right back at you. It's a great way for your baby to practice facial expressions (a huge part of socializing) and to learn about taking turns.

Stare at her

The next time you catch your baby looking at you, look right back. Make eye contact and try to hold her stare. It'll teach her to make eye contact and give her a taste of non-verbal communication.

Check out 10 Playtime activities with an infant >>


At around three months old, something magical will happen. After all these months of smiling at your baby, she'll smile back at you! Make sure you smile back! This is also the age when she'll begin to distinguish emotions, and she'll often share yours. You'll notice that she smiles when she sees you smile, and cries when she knows you're upset.

Health milestones for infants and preschoolers >>

Talk back

Long before your baby learns to form words, she'll make sounds. When she babbles and coos your way, talk back to her. It doesn't matter if you mimic her sounds or use your own words, as long as you're talking. This teaches her the natural flow of dialogue (You talk and I respond, then you talk and I talk again) and encourages the basics of polite conversation.

Quick Tip

Encourage your spouse to do all these things as well. It's good for your baby to learn to socialize with someone other than you.

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