Q:My 7-month-old doesn't show much interest in playing with other babies. At his age, should I be helping him to become more social?
A: While it's okay to gently encourage your son to socialize, don't expect him to be too interested in other infants quite yet. "If you put him down in a play group, odds are he'll come scooting back to you," says Bryan Sibley, M.D., medical director of Beacon Children's Specialty Hospital in Houston.
Babies who are 7 to 9 months old focus on those who are most familiar to them: their parents or other caregivers, brothers and sisters, or peers who are part of their daily life, according to William Cohen, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. He advises parents and caregivers to focus on interacting with babies themselves. "Read, talk, dance, sing, and join in any activity that the baby is interested in," he says.
By 12 months, babies will start to show interest in how other infants play with toys and, to some extent, in the babies themselves, Dr. Sibley says. Parallel play with peers usually begins around age 2.