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When will your baby smile, laugh, learn to give hugs, and make friends? Get up to speed on the major social milestones from birth to age 8.
Learn more about your child's social and relationship development.
Babies know how to interact with other people from day one. Infants socialize by making eye contact, cooing, and making faces at you. New babies may also mimic their parents' facial expressions.
From 3 to 6 months, babies' social development continues as they start to smile, laugh, and enjoy peekaboo.
Talk to your child's doctor if your baby doesn't show affection for caregivers, avoids eye contact, or seems uninterested in interacting with people.
Between 6 and 9 months, babies start to prefer the people they're most familiar with, which may lead to separation anxiety when you're not there. Around 7 months, babies respond to their name.
As babies inch closer to their first birthday, they'll enjoy watching and imitating other children. They may also play near – but not really with – other kids.
Thirteen to 18 months is an exciting age, when children begin to talk. Naturally, this helps develop relationships. Separation anxiety may also peak now. By 18 months, toddlers can follow simple one-step commands.
A sweet development happens between 19 and 24 months, when children begin to give hugs and kisses. But they're not yet good at sharing toys with other kids.
Between the ages of 2 and 3, a bond with one or two special friends – and sometimes with imaginary friends – starts to blossom. At this age, kids also get better at sharing and taking turns. Some 2- and 3-year-olds may start to hit or bite. Talk to a doctor if you're concerned about your child's behavior.
At ages 3 and 4, kids become more confident and independent. They can initiate play and make up games by themselves or with others. They may bicker when playing, but will also show their playmates affection. Sharing and taking turns comes more easily now, even without prodding from adults – though not always when it comes to their favorite toys.
At 5 years old, children can show empathy and develop their own friendships. They care what their friends think and want to fit in. They typically love talking with adults and telling stories.
By the time children reach 6, 7, and 8, they often prefer hanging out with same-sex kids and may develop a best friend. Playdates run more smoothly at this age, and some kids will be ready for a sleepover. Kids this age might enjoy spending more time alone than they did before. They're likely to imitate the way you interact with other people, so it's good to model respect, kindness, and other traits you value.