Have you ever heard your pediatrician talk about ‘development domains’ and wondered what that meant? A domain of development is a specific aspect or category of development. There are four main domains: language and communication, cognitive, motor, and social/emotional development.
Did you know that all development domains don’t take priority all at once? Dr. Mona Amin, Pediatrician, mom, and the infant development lead for Enfamil’s Village of Experts, shares insights and advice on the first domain that becomes apparent in baby’s life – social and emotional development. While reading please remember, your baby will develop at their own pace!
The social and emotional domain ultimately lays the groundwork for baby’s overall growth and helps you both by:
- Fostering baby’s ability to establish future relationships/bonds
- Making it easier to read baby’s cues
- Reassuring you that you’re supporting their brain development!
Supporting Social/Emotional Development in Early Infancy
Did you know that the first domain of infant development that can be initiated is social and emotional development? This is the interaction infants establish with their caregivers from birth.
Emotional development is a child's ability to express, recognize, and manage their emotions, as well as respond appropriately to others' emotions. So much of this is mirrored in our emotional regulation as they observe us. As they grow, social development refers to their ability to create meaningful relationships with the adults in their life and other children.
But fostering social and emotional development begins in the newborn months.
When your baby is born, the goal for the first two weeks is to focus on feeding, resting when you can, and learning about your baby’s sleepy and hunger cues.
Don’t worry so much about “playing” with your baby within the first few weeks.
So much of play at this stage is learning about your baby, cuddling, and finding your own special way of bonding. There is no official timeline or one right way to bond with your baby. Some parents may take a bit longer than others to feel bonded to their baby, but the most important thing is to recognize that all parents will reach that milestone.
In the first three months of your baby’s life, their social and emotional development will be established when you respond to their cries and understand what they mean. During this time, you will begin to learn if their cry is due to hunger, a wet or dirty diaper, or that maybe they need some cuddles.
By three months, your infant should smile at your face and other familiar faces, as well as calm themselves with their own hands in their mouth. They may track you as you walk by them and brighten up at the sight of you—they know you’re theirs and are happy to see you.
Activities to foster development
Foster social and emotional development early on by creating your own bonding routine. This can look so different from family to family. Some examples include:
- Singing to them
- Talking to them about your day (even babies love gossip)
- Cuddling with them in ways including contact naps when you are fully awake (for safety)
- Baths and baby massages to bond via physical touch
- Making silly faces at your baby to make them smile
- Making routines fun and light-hearted such as singing songs, laughing, or sticking your tongue out at them in a playful way during diaper changes.
You can incorporate these activities during ordinary, everyday events like changing diapers, tummy time, etc. Remember, although there are many ways to foster a foundation of social and emotional development in your infant, there are even more ways to incorporate activities into your everyday routine to create a foundation for this domain of development.
Interested in learning more about baby’s early development? Learn more from the Village of Experts – a reliable resource supported by the #1 trusted infant formula brand by pediatricians and parents, Enfamil!