6.4 Social Emotional Milestones

As infants and toddlers interact with other people, their social and emotional skills develop. Here is a table of social and emotional milestones that they typically experience during the first two years.

Table 6.2: Social and Emotional Milestones248
Typical Age What Most Children Do By This Age
2 months Begins to smile at people
2 months Can briefly calm self (may bring hands to mouth and suck on hand)
2 months Tries to look at parent
4 months Smiles spontaneously, especially at people
4 months Likes to play with people and might cry when playing stops
4 months Copies some movements and facial expressions, like smiling or frowning
6 months Knows familiar faces and begins to know if someone is a stranger
6 months Likes to play with others, especially parents
6 months Responds to other people’s emotions and often seems happy
6 months Likes to look at self in a mirror
9 months May be afraid of strangers
9 months May be clingy with familiar adults
9 months Has favorite toys
1 year Is shy or nervous with strangers
1 year Cries when mom or dad leaves
1 year Has favorite things and people
1 year Shows fear in some situations
1 year Hands you a book when wants to hear a story
1 year Repeats sounds or actions to get attention
1 year Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing
1 year Plays games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”
18 months Likes to hand things to others as play
18 months May have temper tantrums
18 months May be afraid of strangers
18 months Shows affection to familiar people
18 months Plays simple pretend, such as feeding a doll
18 months May cling to caregivers in new situations
18 months Points to show others something interesting
18 months Explores alone but with parent close by
2 years Copies others, especially adults and older children
2 years Gets excited when with other children
2 years Shows more and more independence
2 years Shows defiant behavior (doing what he has been told not to)
2 years Plays mainly beside other children, but is beginning to include other children, such as in chase games

  1. Developmental Milestones by the CDC is in the public domain↩︎