Intro One

  • baby with blanket on headSocial and Emotional Intro Part 1

    Things like smiling and responding to you, making eye contact or calming down when held by a familiar adult are all social and emotional milestones that most babies express and explore by a certain age.

    During this first year, your baby will form special bonds with caring adults, explore the world around them by touching, looking and engaging within safe spaces with caregivers.  They will also learn more about emotions by watching you, sharing a smile and calming with your help.  

Intro Two

  • moms kissing babySocial and Emotional Intro Part 2

    Just as it’s important for babies to be healthy physically, it’s also important for your baby to be healthy socially and emotionally. These skills help them make friends as they get older, learn how to express emotions in safe ways and take initiative to problem-solve and succeed in school and life.

Steps Milestone Checklist

How You Can Help Your Baby's Social and Emotional Development

  • baby walking with father crawling behindHOW YOU CAN HELP YOUR BABY'S SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

    How do you know your baby is on track for social and emotional development? While every baby grows at their own pace, we have developed materials through the Steps initiative to guide you on what skills you might expect as your little one develops, and what to do if you think your baby is not achieving milestones. 



    Birth - 2 Months

    Right from birth, babies look for comfort and support from caregivers. At first, that means holding your baby, rocking, and cuddling to help create a bond. Your baby is learning to trust someone to take care of their needs.

    When your baby is fussy or crying, respond with warmth and kindness so your baby learns their needs will be met consistently and with care. You’ll show them how to safely get their needs met, how a loving relationship works, and how to get along with others.

    As your baby becomes more alert and aware, make eye contact often. Talk to your baby as if they could talk back, with natural conversational pauses and lots of facial expression. They will learn the rhythm of communication, and how to tell someone’s emotions from seeing expressions. Talk about the emotions as you see them, “Your eyebrows are up and you have a big smile, you are happy!” This way your baby can hear these important words early.

  • 4 to 6 Months

    4-6 Months

    Your baby will enjoy trying to copy your expressions and learn how to respond to people this way. Make a silly face, give a big smile, or raise your eyebrows and encourage your baby to do the same.

    Babies start to notice things that are happening around them now and want to be a part of the action. Share one-on-one time with your baby and let them touch your face and copy your facial expressions. Share a laugh during bath time or snuggle in as you read a book to them. Respond to your baby’s reactions with joy and calm so they learn that their behavior has meaning and you are there to support them.

  • 7 to 9 Months

    7-9 Months

    You may notice that your baby is fearful of strangers, or loud noises or new situations. That’s completely normal. Offer comfort and explore slowly together, letting your baby know you are there. They will develop curiosity and learn explore in safe ways, which will help do the same in new situations as they develop and grow.

    Play games together, like peek-a-boo, to help your baby explore back and forth interaction and shared emotions. 

  • 9 to 12 MONTHS

    9-12 Months

    Now your baby is starting to recognize some words, even if they can’t say them yet. This lays a foundation for learning to express themselves and you can help them make the connection between words and feelings. When your baby laughs, talk about being happy. When your baby cries because the toys are being put away, talk about being sad that play time is over.

    Your baby is forming a strong bond with familiar caregivers and at this stage tends to have favorite toys and people. At this time, your baby might want one toy over another, or prefer bananas to carrots. You can help baby’s growing confidence by offering choices—which of these two toys do you want? Do you want the ball or the book? 

    This is also an age where your baby may like to hand you things, repeat sounds that you make and cry when you leave.  Leave time during daily routines to connect, “mommy’s cooking dinner, can you give me the big spoon?” or “Grandma can hear you waking up, I am on my way to get you.”


Tips and Resources for Parents

  • mom and dad holding babyTIPS AND RESOURCES FOR PARENTS

    Social and emotional development impacts your child’s health, happiness and ability to learn and succeed in their school years and beyond. Learn how to support them on this learning journey.

    Get Social and Emotional Tips

More Resources for Parents

  • Social and Emotional Health: A Guide for Families with Children Birth to Age 8

    Social and Emotional Health: A Guide for Families with Children Birth to Age 8

    A Guide for families who want to help children (0-8) to be socially and emotionally healthy

    Get the Guide

  • Developing Social-Emotional Skills

    Developing Social-Emotional Skills

    Learn what you can do to support social-emotional development in your baby from ZerotoThree.org 

    Visit ZeroToThree


    Help Your Child Build Relationships

    Tips on developing strong relationships from ZerotoThree.org

    Get Relationship Tips


    Social and Emotional Skills

    Learn about social-emotional skills and how to encourage your baby’s development from Pathways.org

    Visit Pathways.org


Contact Us

  • Contact Us

    The Michigan Department of Education offers more help to find resources to meet your needs.

    Contact Us