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Emotional Development: 12 to 18 months

Emotional Development means developing a full range of emotions, from sad to happy to angry, and learning to handle them appropriately. This leads to deeper qualities – sympathy, caring, resilience, self-esteem, assertiveness and being able to rise to life's challenges.

Emerging Skills
  • Enjoy consistency and knowing what comes next
  • Be resistant to change
  • Express appropriate emotions
  • Actively seek comfort in a person or object when distressed
  • Find out more about What to Expect from your baby, 12 to 18 months.


    Through the comfort and responsiveness of an adult, babies will learn how to handle their emotions and how to seek help when needed.

    Parents Can:
  • Provide a safe environment to explore
  • Encourage their baby to explore his surroundings (for example, allow your baby to get into cupboards, ensuring that the contents pose no harm)
  • Child Will:
  • Explore his environment in a self-directed way
  • Develop confidence in deciding what objects to play with

  • Parents Can:
  • Give their baby many opportunities to feel successful. For example, play a game that he has initiated or allow him to feed himself
  • Child Will:
  • Develop a sense of competence and a feeling that he can influence others
  • Feel secure enough to explore his environment

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide praise and encouragement
  • Child Will:
  • Develop a positive sense of self
  • Feel loved and valued
  • Discover how to have an effect on people and things
  • Respond to your reactions

  • Play

    Through opportunities for play, babies will experience joyful, free, spontaneous moments of fun while learning about themselves and others.

    Parents Can:
  • Explore feelings through stories or songs while they play with teddies and other toys
  • Child Will:
  • Respond to your words, stories and songs
  • Express emotion in response to what she sees or hears
  • Try to mimic some of the actions she sees you doing

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide their baby with the chance to play with them everyday
  • Child Will:
  • Look forward to this time with you
  • Express her feelings about the activities you two are involved in

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide opportunities for their baby to play on his own
  • Child Will:
  • Learn to be self-reliant for small periods of time
  • Learn to solve small problems or deal with minor frustrations on his own
  • Develop confidence in his abilities

  • Teach

    Through routines and emotionally and physically safe and secure environments, babies can learn how to think, solve problems and communicate.

    Parents Can:
  • Teach their baby simple words to express her feelings
  • Child Will:
  • Learn to connect how she feels to words
  • Respond to you when you label her emotions

  • Parents Can:
  • Inform their baby when a routine will be different, or tell her in advance what will happen
  • Begin to leave their baby with another familiar caregiver (have visits with the caregiver before, if possible)
  • Child Will:
  • Become better prepared to deal with separation
  • Exhibit less anxiety over time
  • Seek comfort from the familiar caregiver with whom you are leaving her

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