How can I help my baby play with others?

Q: My 7-month-old baby doesn't show much interest in playing with other babies. Should he be more social?

A: Don't expect your baby to be a social butterfly quite yet. At this age, babies aren't that interested in playing with each other -- if you put him down in a playgroup, odds are he'll come scooting back to you, which is totally normal. Babies 7 to 9 months focus what's most familiar to them: Mom and Dad or other caregivers, brothers and sisters, or peers who are part of their daily life. Instead of trying to get your infant to interact with his baby friends, try to focus on engaging baby yourself -- read, talk, dance, sing, and join in any activity that your baby is interested in. By 12 months, babies will start to show interest in how other infants play with toys and, to some extent, in the babies themselves. Parallel play with peers (where children play next to -- but not with -- each other) usually begins around age 2. --Wayne Kalyn

Originally published in the March 2003 issue of Child magazine. Updated 2009.

2 Comments

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