How to Help Baby Be More Social

It's never too early to encourage your little one to make friends.

mothers and babies playing
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Show them the way. Baby is always watching you and your behavior, so be an example of friendliness in front of your child, suggests Sara Lise Raff, an educational consultant. For example, if you go to religious services each week, greet the celebrant and introduce him or her to your child. At playdates, you can even engage her friends in small talk ("I love your new doll, Emily. What's her name?"). Kids love to mimic their parents' behavior, so seeing you at ease with others will show her there's nothing to fear.

Stick with small groups. Babies might feel overwhelmed around larger groups. At this stage, it's best to limit your child's playdates to only a few pals. Then, as your child gets older and starts to feel more comfortable around other tots, you can begin planning dates with larger groups or sign him up for classes where there will be more children around.

Take it easy. Research shows that kids whose parents push them too far, too quickly, end up withdrawing even more. If your baby seems anxious around new people, don't force the situation. Just try again at another time.

Don't overprotect. It's also important that you give your child opportunities to succeed in new situations. Help your little one take gentle steps in the direction of achievement and accomplishment. If she shows some resistance to social situations, a gentle nudge might include saying "Let's just go take a look." As Baby becomes more comfortable, you can back off a bit and simply follow her lead.

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

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