Social-emotional development – birth to four months

The lower part of baby’s emotional brain is ready, so baby can feel and show basic emotions, but is not aware of these feelings.

This is a critical time for baby to learn about emotions by connecting with others.

Copy baby’s facial expressions, hand gestures and ‘talk’ because baby:

  • gets to know own movements and expressions
  • learns to see emotions in others and can later grow empathy (the ability to understand and share someone else’s feelings)
  • will ‘talk’ more when they can see who they are talking to.

Be friendly, playful and sensitive with baby:

  • to keep stress hormones low in baby’s brain
  • to help wire up the feel good part of baby’s brain.

Care for baby in responsive and familiar ways because:

  • baby learns their needs will be met quickly and knows what to expect.
Published — 20 February 2019 Last updated — 11 March 2019

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What is your relationship with the child?

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If you had a spare moment, what would you most likely do with the child?

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Are you of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander descent?
Does the child need additional support with their development or learning?
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